Google Blog Explains Google.cn

Over at Google Blog, there’s a thoughtful post addressing the hub bub over the launch of a politically-censored Google.cn.

On one hand, it certainly seems laudable in that there seems to be an actual understanding of the criticisms at hand here over at Google. On the other hand, it’s about as internally contradicting as one would expect, given the hypocrisy of Google’s position — for example, a sentence reading “Launching a Google domain that restricts information in any way isn’t a step we took lightly” is followed a few paragraphs later with acknowledgment of the fact that Google’s French, German and American services also censor information.

Here’s a particularly interesting bit of wishful thinking on Google’s part:

Obviously, the situation in China is far different than it is in those other countries; while China has made great strides in the past decades, it remains in many ways closed. We aren’t happy about what we had to do this week, and we hope that over time everyone in the world will come to enjoy full access to information. But how is that full access most likely to be achieved? We are convinced that the Internet, and its continued development through the efforts of companies like Google, will effectively contribute to openness and prosperity in the world. Our continued engagement with China is the best (perhaps only) way for Google to help bring the tremendous benefits of universal information access to all our users there.

Unfortunately, we’re not entirely as optimistic that instant capitulation to a government’s censorship policy is going to lead to a revolutionary, information-free wonderland in China’s near future. If such a society is in China’s future, it certainly won’t have anything to do with Google’s pandering to censorship, but with the resolve of the Chinese people to change the way their government operates. And the most likely way they are going to start wanting to do that is by being exposed to uncensored information about other viewpoints – information Google is not providing. It’s too bad Google didn’t aim their ingenuity at some way for Chinese people to more reliably visit their other, non-Chinese domains instead.

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  1. Smoking Pope says:

    Dreamworld: “I’m sorry, but your country’s philosophy differs greatly from ours. We cannot be party to the censoring of what we believe to be public data. As much as we’d like your business, we refuse to win it at the expense of our morals. Good day.”

  2. nweaver says:

    One observation: Google is being far more open. Everybody else has been capitulating without saying a thing. Google says what its doing by making google.cn open and public to the rest of the world too.

    EG, their (probabyl deliberately) incompetent censoring of tiennamen on image search.

  3. SamC says:

    I’m not sure I agree.

    Getting the door somewhat open, rather than completely closed, is better. Especially that there’s the disclaimer that things are censored.

    The more access that the chinese people have to information, the better off they are.

    Notice that the google filter has trouble with typos… It’s been reported to be case-sensitive too.

    It depends on how google plays it out. As I said in the last article about google.cn, I think a little bit of willful slopiness/laziness on the part of the filter writers will go a long way.

    A filter that works badly is better than a complete block.

  4. Smoking Pope says:

    That’s why I prefaced it with the words “Dream World”. Pragmatically speaking, it may be more effective to get your foot in the door, so to speak. History seems to show that economic partnership works a whole lot better than tanks (which should be onvious to anyone who’s ever eaten in a Pizza Hut in Viet Nam).

    But still, toadying up to them really gets on my last nerve.

  5. SamC says:

    Well, sometimes you have to toady if you want to get close enough to get the knife in correctly…