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Google, Yahoo Accused of Irresponsible Chinese Censorship

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In what Brett Tabke calls “the China Syndrome” Google and Yahoo! are being accused of censorship. French-based international press freedom group Reporters sans Frontires (RSF), also known as Reporters without Borders, claims both search engines gave into the Chinese government’s demands of controlling search results.

The move “directly threatens freedom of expression,” the group claims, saying it “deplores the ‘irresponsible’ policies of major US Internet firms Yahoo! and Google in bowing directly and indirectly to Chinese government demands for censorship.”


Learn To Walk The Straight and Narrow Young Search Engine...
Learn To Walk The Straight and Narrow Young Search Engine…

RSF responded by writing the United States government calling for “restrictions on private-sector activity.” Calling the government hypocritical, the group demanded the search engines change their ways and “pledge to respect freedom of information, including abroad.”

Both Yahoo! China and Yahoo’s Yisou give into Chinese government demands, the group says. Sites frowned upon by the Chinese regime are not displayed. A search on Yahoo! China for “Taiwan independence” returned only mainland sites criticizing the Taiwan Independence Party.

Although Google will block illegal content, Sergey Brin told Reuters, “The objectivity of our rankings is one of our very important principles.” Though Google has been accused of unnecessary censorship in the past it also went under fire by Jewish groups for NOT censoring an anti-Semantic site, which ranked #1 for the term “Jew.”

Google’s open information stance went as far as getting it blocked for a week by the Chinese government last year. In June, however, Google bought shares in the Chinese search engine Baidu, which is said to filter certain results. However, the Chinese version of Google (www.google.com/intl/zh-CN) still appears to be uncensored.

The Chinese government is notorious for its efforts to limit web access among its citizens. Web sites are “strictly regulated,” according to this Harvard Law School report. Sites such as AltaVista and Amnesty International are blocked. In 2001, the government shut down thousands of Internet cafes, which were believed to be threatening.

If China is committed to controlling its citizens’ information access, it makes sense for the government to view search engines as a threat. “The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) says 80% of Chinese Internet users get online data” through search engines, according to RSF.

RSF believes Yahoo! And Google are going against the Global Internet Freedom Act, which was voted by the House of Representatives a year ago in an effort “to develop and deploy technologies to defeat Internet jamming and censorship.”

Webmasterworld members are quick to point out there are two sides to every story.

“I have mixed feelings on this,” said one member, pointing out that if the search engines hadn’t agreed to censor certain content, Chinese individuals wouldn’t have been granted access to Yahoo! and Google’s search powers. The point was also made that filtering isn’t foolproof. “If we can’t block porn from our children with a 100% guarantee, the Chinese cannot block alternative political views with a 100% guarantee.”

Another member added, “They’re both trying to gain ground on each other there in a huge potential market. Their choice is presumably between doing as they’re told or being blocked altogether by the authorities.”

Nonetheless, Google and Yahoo! might one day find their actions coming back to haunt them. “Brad” warns, “It is dangerous to become too entangled with totalitarian and authoritarian regimes.”

Are Yahoo! and Google doing the right thing for Chinese citizens or are they making a huge mistake?

Or could this just be part of an effort to gain access to China’s estimated 80 million web users for advertising clicks?

Share your views at WebProWorld, the WebProNews forum

Brittany Thompson is an administrator for WebProWorld.com and contributes to the Insider Reports with her regular articles and interviews.

Google, Yahoo Accused of Irresponsible Chinese Censorship
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  • http://www.seethrureviews.com/Sit-Stay-Fetch-Book-Reviews.html Sit Stay Fetch Review

    Like it or not, a company has to comply with any country’s rules when doing business in that country…. period!

  • don mitchel

    Yahoo sends the article to me I click on but, always says they are sorry. (error for posting), this started after accepted posts did not appear and I have seen other post appear at the same time. Sad that a trusted internet provider is not capable of providing all the political comments on an article in the USA, as a partial selection of the publics opinion on an article skews the view of the general public. Now this site may elect not to post because of opposing views, but it is not an internet service provider. The following is example of what I can not post on their sites.
    Jobs and immigration would not be such a hot button
    issue, had Senator Boxer support ballast water legislation in 2008. How can anyone know who to vote for, when politicians will not talk to specifics (current bills etc.)? The news media will only ask superficial questions. Americans hopefully have learned that voting for someone because they say the word “change”, should raise red flags and mean- to be careful what you wish for. Restoration programs are great, but by themselves without proper prevention, will only continue to be, a repair to the damage still being allowed to occur and a continued economic drain. NY has spent enormous amounts of money, (that could have been stimulus money) on ballast water protection. The Federal government could not act to protect all states equally after a house vote for ballast laws 395-7, because our country is now dependent on foreign manufactured products to survive which are primarily delivered by foreign ships. Candidates for governor in NY, should be ask if the money the state has spent to protect their waters without infrastructure for enforcement will be wasted, by disregarding NY regulations, should the Coast Guard initiate any plan, weak or strong in the presidential election year 2012. Are they going to be granting permits or passes to ships while this plan to pressure the Federal government to act responsibly, plays out? NY laws are important to uphold as they affect all Great Lakes states, with international implications as well, and NY regulations may pressure this administration to finally act responsibly, before the presidential election year 2012. At best immediate action would be 2 1/2 years after historic legislation passed the largest elected legislative voice of the people 395-7 for the real change we needed in 2008. This legislation was killed by one member of the presidents party, while the three top members of this administration were Senators, leaving the states in competition with each other as they negotiate on an international level with foreign economic interest. Our countries policy of promoting economic globalization should stop this pass destroying our environment, and take our economic security back, by creating a level playing field for American manufacturing. We already have enough store clerks, as store clerks are now the largest career for Americans to aspire. This means the American dream for many American will only be a store clerks standard of living. Unfortunately this scenario has been created by the last two decades of political dynasty’s interlacement of our free market economy to the point of dependence with the controlled economy of a communist country.