Brin says Google compromised principles in China

First, Google starts to censor results in China, making a mockery of its core values. Then they try to explain it doesn’t really matter, since no one is using the censored version of their website. But now that they’ve cowed to the Chinese government, the uncensored version of Google is reportedly blocked from within China. For lack of a better analysis: Duh!

On the heels of this, Sergey Brin seems to now admit that Google compromised their principles by helping the Chinese censor the search results for the Tiananmen Square protests and the massacre that followed it 17 years ago today. From the AP story:

Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin acknowledged Tuesday the dominant Internet company has compromised its principles by accommodating Chinese censorship demands. He said Google is wrestling to make the deal work before deciding whether to reverse course.Meeting with reporters near Capitol Hill, Brin said Google had agreed to the censorship demands only after Chinese authorities blocked its service in that country. Google’s rivals accommodated the same demands – which Brin described as “a set of rules that we weren’t comfortable with” – without international criticism, he said.

“We felt that perhaps we could compromise our principles but provide ultimately more information for the Chinese and be a more effective service and perhaps make more of a difference,” Brin said. …

Google’s China-approved Web service omits politically sensitive information that might be retrieved during Internet searches, such as details about the 1989 suppression of political unrest in Tiananmen Square. Its agreement with China has provoked considerable criticism from human rights groups.

“Perhaps now the principled approach makes more sense,” Brin said.

The Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders said Tuesday that Google’s main Web site, http://www.google.com , was no longer accessible in most Chinese provinces due to censorship efforts, and that it was completely inaccessible throughout China on May 31.

Brin said Google is trying to improve its censored search service, Google.cn, before deciding whether to reverse course. He said virtually all the company’s customers in China use the non-censored service.

“It’s perfectly reasonable to do something different, to say, ‘Look, we’re going to stand by the principle against censorship and we won’t actually operate there.’ That’s an alternate path,” Brin said. “It’s not where we chose to go right now, but I can sort of see how people came to different conclusions about doing the right thing.”

[via Buzzmachine]

UPDATE: Wired News reports that Google.com is no longer blocked in China. The temporary blockage was most likely meant to coincide with the June 4 anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

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