Google has officially launched google.cn, a version of its search service designed to appease the Chinese government’s desire to block searches related to Taiwanese or Tibetan independence, the Tiananmen massacre, Falun Gong, etc.
CNN posted this statement from Google on the matter:
In order to operate from China, we have removed some content from the search results available on Google.cn, in response to local law, regulation or policy. While removing search results is inconsistent with Google’s mission, providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission.
As an emerging economic powerhouse, China is developing rapidly, thanks in no small measure to the Internet. We firmly believe, with our culture of innovation, Google can make meaningful and positive contributions to the already impressive pace of development in China.
There’s plenty of coverage on this event, especially noting the irony given recent events:
- Search Engine Watch: “Less than a week after we hear that Google is ready to fight the US government in part to defend its users, now comes news that Google will cave into the Chinese government’s demands for its new Google China web site.”
- Good Morning Silicon Valley:”Apparently you can scratch “censorship in pursuit of profit” off your list of Things That Are Evil.”
- Google Blogoscoped: “By bowing to the Chinese government, instead of rejecting them, they implicitly support the government’s decision to restrict human rights and freedom of speech in China. If the censorship in Google.cn will work like that in Google.de, then the Chinese surfers won’t even know at all times they’re being cheated, and they may trust the positive Google brand. Google has entered very muddy waters here.”
UPDATE: Philipp Lenssen has posted some side-by-side comparisons of search results from google.cn and google.com.
The Chinese people are used to censorship already. Its not like its something new for them OR that they don’t know they are being censored or watched. Previously the Google servers were outside of China and everythin served from there was being filtered by the Government. So what the Chinese people are seeing now is no different than what they were seeing earlier. The only difference now is that the user experience is a bit better since the server is housed inside of China, so the latency is less. In the end, it’s a win for the Chinese internet user.
Note this is different from the US where the US government tries to snoop on people WITHOUT them know about it.
Just becuase the Chinese are “used to censorship” does not make it ethically acceptable for Google to actively participate in it. Your arguement that the Chinese are better off by having the Google servers do the censoring rather than a government firewall is equally questionable on ethical grounds; only an odd form of utilitarianism would consider more efficient censorship as a “win” for the Chinese.