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June 8, 2006

Google Soul Searches on China, Chinese Government Gets Testy

Google's co-founder Sergey Brin was quoted recently that his company compromised its principles in filtering search results for Chinese customers.  Google's U.S. site is off-limits to Chinese citizens and the Google.cn site has taken hits from various human rights groups for the censorship.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry now reiterates that censorship or certain sensitive material is the law, and the law is to be followed.  There is implications in this statement for Yahoo! and Microsoft, both of whom have also taken hits for cooperating with the Chinese government.  Yahoo! in particular took a lot of heat for allegedly providing evidence that identified dissidents who ultimately went to prison.  Congress even got into the act, holding hearings where executives from all three companies were excoriated for cooperating with the Chinese government to the detriment of spreading democracy.  Since then, it's business as usual.

China has 110 million Internet users.  That's a pretty big market to serve ads and other services.  The ironic thing about all of this is that the Chinese government demands cooperation when investigating offenses under their laws.  Here the U.S. government wants ISPs to record all traces of Internet activity for two years running and allegedly got cooperation from AT&T to actually record all traffic on a covert basis.  Who has the more onerous approach to the Internet?

The story on the Chinese Foreign Ministry statement is on the San Francisco Chronicle web site.

June 8, 2006 | Permalink

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