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This is an extract from the second latest post on Google's Blog (here), and I think they've really summarised the entire testimonial in one single line -- They have shown a sense of responsibility and transparency that no other company (in Google's position) would. I think they have done a commendable job of keeping people informed, and make substantial progress -- at the same time.
The Decision: What Google Is Doing in China The deliberative process and analysis outlined above led to the following decisions.

(1) Launch Google.cn. We have recently launched Google.cn, a version of Google’s search engine that we will filter in response to Chinese laws and regulations on illegal content. This website will supplement, and not replace, the existing, unfiltered Chinese-language interface on Google.com. That website will remain open and unfiltered for Chinese-speaking users worldwide.

(2) Disclosure of Filtering Google.cn presents to users a clear notification whenever links have been removed from our search results in response to local laws and regulations in China. We view this a step toward greater transparency that no other company has done before.

(3) Limit Services Google.cn today includes basic Google search services, together with a local business information and map service. Other products – such as Gmail and Blogger, our blog service – that involve personal and confidential information will be introduced only when we are comfortable that we can provide them in a way that protects the privacy and security of users’ information.

Next Steps: Voluntary Industry Action

Google supports the idea of Internet industry action to define common principles to guide the practices of technology firms in countries that restrict access to information. Together with colleagues at other leading Internet companies, we are actively exploring the potential for guidelines that would apply for all countries in which Internet content is subjected to governmental restrictions. Such guidelines might encompass, for example, disclosure to users, protections for user data, and periodic reporting about governmental restrictions and the measures taken in response to them.

Next Steps: U.S. Government Action

The United States government has a role to play in contributing to the global expansion of free expression. For example, the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce and the office of the U.S. Trade Representative should continue to make censorship a central element of our bilateral and multilateral agendas.

Moreover, the U.S. government should seek to bolster the global reach and impact of our Internet information industry by placing obstacles to its growth at the top of our trade agenda. At the risk of oversimplification, the U.S. should treat censorship as a barrier to trade, and raise that issue in appropriate fora.

Thanks guys!

[Update]: here's something more to show you how much Google cares! (link)

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7 Comments

You must know that the Chinese propaganda machine will exploit Google.cn as evidence that Google's values are not inconsistent with Beijing's censorship. This will give the censors legitimacy that they wouldn't otherwise get if Google decided to abstain. This is not a slight and subtle advantage for a regime that was ranked 159th out of 167 countries graded on the World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders(1).

In China, Google.com leaves it to the government censors to do the censoring. This leaves the opening in people's minds that maybe their government is more repressive than other countries. Google.cn adds little more than speed to what a state-censored Google.com or Baidu can provide. Internet users can now get their oppression served to them faster and more efficiently than with the competition. And when served by a liberalized, free, western corporation based in a democratic nation, acting in accordance with its own freely chosen policies, the nuanced agonizing that led to a tortured decision between two imperfect choices will not register with the chinese citizen end user.

And why not?

BECAUSE HE CAN'T READ GOOGLE'S STATEMENTS ON THE MATTER. For all intents and purposes this controversy doesn't exist. The only reality is that "supposedly" "freer" entities are no more idealistic than anyone else.

Google.cn adds no data that the censors won't allow. Google.cn adds much legitimacy to the CCP. That's a net loss for freedom. That's doing evil. Eliminating Google.cn will not increase restrictions on the flow of data into China. It will restrict the perception that the CCP is no less "free" than a western, free-market, non-government corporation.

Google did not chose the lesser of two evils. Google got in bed with the devil and left the bedroom door cracked open for the children to peer inside.

(1) http://www.rsf.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=554

I can do nothing but accept your comment as a valid argument ddub. But don't you think you're being a bit too harsh on Google? After all, Google hired Mr. Lee (after a bitter lawsuit with Microsoft) so that they could slowly and steadily start entering the eastern countries.

Yes! I will admit that Google will have certain self interest points to account for this effort, but at the end of the day, the chinese are getting nothing more (or anything lesser) than they would without Google.cn. I'm also sure that a copy of the testimonial (in chinese) would be available to the people of China so that they have a clear idea of what is going on.

This leaves the opening in people's minds that maybe their government is more repressive than other countries

Is this notion wrong? If a government wilfully keeps information from its own citizens, do you think such an organisation is fir to be known as a government which supposedly is in control of the country, and is working towards its betterment? We all know that the biggest resource of a country is its population, and the biggest resource that people have (after health) is awareness and knowledge. Maybe this will wake the people up to realise what they have been facing, and maybe they'll have the guts and enough self-respect to do something about such an oppressive regime!

Thanks for your comment, it qualifies almost for a post in itself! :P

gotten hold of the time magazine edition for feb 20th '06 recently..it's got a pretty good coverage on this with some cool trivia..maybe u'd like to check that out

Cool comment hack.
    Anonymous Anonymous, on Wed Mar 15, 03:41:00 AM  

Most of chinese DO NOT CARE censors.
Google.cn do not support local GMail, Blogger, Groups, and its search service in Chinese is not so good as what in English too. It should set up individual editions, which Yahoo! had done in China.
I am very confused why Google put so much attention to spread the American value system.
Everyone has his style of life, and most Chinese do not believe what most Americans believe naturally.

@??: I'm guessing your name is foreign characters that my blog doesn't recognise :) Anyway, I don't understand what you mean by 'set up individual editions'. If you mean one edition per country, that is what Google has done with Google.cn.

Google's service in China is not as good because they're restricted by local laws, and that was what the whole ruckus was in the first place. However, they have given their clearances at more that one occasion, and the people have accepted.

Sometimes, something is better than nothing. And it is not like the chinese aren't getting their share of information that is supposed to be getting blocked by the government. Thats the magic of proxies! ;-) Yes! Everyone has a different style of life, but information and awareness shouldn't be restricted by lifestyle. Every person has a right to information, no matter who he is or where he is.

testing!!!
    Anonymous Alex, on Fri Nov 17, 03:06:00 PM  




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