Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Google to defy China's censors a little less

Google is backing down, but only a little, in its standoff with the government of the People's Republic of China. Three months after it began redirecting traffic from its censored, China-based google.cn site to a less-regulated site based in Hong Kong, google.hk, Google said Monday night that it would stop sending Chinese users to the Hong Kong page automatically.

Instead, Google Senior Vice President David Drummond wrote in a blog post that the company will limit google.cn to "services like music and text translate, which we can provide locally without filtering," while adding a prominent link to google.hk on that home page (as seen in the screenshot below).

google_china_hk.png

Drummond explained the move as Google's only way to preserve a commercial Web presence in China after seeing the Communist government's intense dislike of its redirecting strategy -- itself a response to a series of hacking attempts on Google's computers and increasing interference with its operations inside the country:

...it's clear from conversations we have had with Chinese government officials that they find the redirect unacceptable -- and that if we continue redirecting users our Internet Content Provider license will not be renewed (it's up for renewal on June 30). Without an ICP license, we can't operate a commercial website like Google.cn -- so Google would effectively go dark in China.

That's a prospect dreaded by many of our Chinese users, who have been vocal about their desire to keep Google.cn alive.

Drummond expressed optimism about the odds of Beijing renewing its license after this change, but my colleague Keith Richburg's story suggests that's no sure thing. We'll all see soon enough.

Now, from the perspective of those of us living in countries with constitutional guarantees of free speech, the Mountain View, Calif., firm's conduct in the PRC doesn't directly affect us either way. But it can and should play into how we view Google, a company that invites its users to trust it with an enormous amount of private information. Do Google's actions in this case show a willingness to sacrifice its business to defend its ideals and its users? Do they suggest a commitment to ethical conduct worthy of that trust?

You tell me.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 29, 2010; 10:40 AM ET
Categories:  Policy and politics , Search  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: PostPoints tip: Blogs I like: Google Operating System
Next: Hulu adds 'Hulu Plus' premium service for smartphones and other gadgets

Comments

"Do Google's actions in this case show a willingness to sacrifice its business to defend its ideals and its users?"

How could somebody argue for that?! Of course Google has and will continue to sacrifice its ideals in order to do business in China.

Google doesn't assume China is stupid, and we shouldn't assume Google is stupid.. so obviously the redirect was a gimmick. Though - I'm basing this theory on the one article I've read on the matter - this article.

Posted by: AGreenhill | June 29, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Google's corporate motto is "Don't be evil". No doubt this is a strange, new usage of the word "evil" that I was previously unfamiliar with.

Posted by: HippopotamusMan | June 29, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Google absolutely caved. But, like many American companies, money trumps ideals. The idea "but the people there want us!" Yeah, they want a government that doesn't abuse their rights but they don't have one. And guess what? Having Google.cn isn't going to change their government. It's going to give them a little taste of Western culture. Unfortunately, we've learned for 3 decades that democracy can't be spread through capitalism (don't get me wrong, I love capitalism). Communist China is more than willing to allow enough capitalist ideas to gain wealth but still keep a firm grip on it's citizens. It's time, and has been since Tienanmen Square, to yank business away from China.

Posted by: jav1231 | June 29, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I agree, jav1231, except for one small point: China already _is_ capitalistic. They are "communists" in name only. Their system is very much state-run capitalism.

The Chinese culture has been business-oriented for millenia. The 40-year interlude of Maoism was a small blip in their long history. Now, they are back to their cultural roots, which is much more similar to capitalism than to Chairman Mao's system.

But I agree that Google caved, and that we should try to yank business from China.

Posted by: HippopotamusMan | June 29, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

How is this caving in? The Chinese still cannot do a search in Google's China site. There's an image link on the Google China site that directs users to Google Hong Kong.

Posted by: CDCDCD | June 29, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the Google sissies blinked. Hahahaha...

Posted by: Rosiemeow | June 29, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Still, Google seems to be the only company that actually tries to improve something in the human rights field of China, rather than Yahoo!, MSN and the rest that just pretend to follow the same round, but then turn around and shake hands with Chinese authorities.
Here's the article where the author reviews the whole story of China-Google relationship — http://www.win.ru/en/school/4655.phtml.

Posted by: last_boy_scout | July 5, 2010 4:06 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company