HONG KONG -
Bloggers and technology experts are slamming
US-based Google's decision to censor keywords
rejected by Beijing in its Chinese version - with
some vowing to work around China's ever more
efficient campaign to control what its own people
see and hear online.
greeted Google's decision with a mixture of
cynicism and anger. "It is shameful that Google,
Yahoo, MSN, and others are collaborating with a
repressive regime in China -
in the same way that some firms did with Nazi
Germany decades ago," wrote one commentator on a
blog based in the central Chinese city of
Changsha. "History will send those collaborators
to court and, I hope, very soon," said the
commentator, identified as Erping Zhang.
Google sparks debate "While
Google hasn't made public the contents of the
censored search results, we can guess that they
are probably related to anti-government movements,
or to sex," wrote blogger Feiyang1024 on
Microsoft's MSN Spaces. "It is natural that Google
would set such limits in a Chinese environment."
Another commentator said Google was simply
following the lead of many other Western Internet
companies. "Western companies always change their
initial stance when they get to China," said the
commentator, identified as Watson. "Cisco is
actually much worse than Google."
Commentator Danny O'Brien, writing on the
Electronic Freedom Foundation website, called on
Google to use its foothold in the Chinese market
to protect Chinese citizens. "Google stood up to
the US government when it asked for their records,
but what threats - to their business, and to their
employees - might China make to obtain similar
information?" O'Brien said. "Google should take
this as the moment to reform its data retention
promised Tech-savvy bloggers rushed to try
out Google.cn, the default version of Google for
users in China. They quickly found that those
requesting the overseas version would have access
to it, but that they would have to know about it
in advance. They also discovered that misspelled
"bad words" yielded uncensored results.
Meanwhile, California-based Web privacy
specialist Anonymizer said it was working on an
anti-censorship solution aimed specifically at
Chinese Web users.
anti-censorship solution for Chinese citizens will
be available before quarter's end," the company
said on Wednesday. "The solution will provide a
regularly changing URL that users can access to
open the doors to unfettered access of the World
Wide Web." Users' identities would also be
protected from online tracking and monitoring by
the Chinese government, it said.
"Anonymizer is not willing to sit idly by
while the freedom of the Internet is slowly
crushed," Anonymizer president Lance Cottrell said
in a statement. "We take pride in the fact that
our online privacy and security solutions provide
access to global information for those under the
thumb of repressive regimes."
of two evils' Rather than relying on
China's sophisticated monitoring system to plug
holes in the Great Firewall, Google's new
Chinese-language search engine carries out its own
keyword, domain-name, and URL filtering according
to a list of words forbidden by Beijing.
Online tech experts have already carried
out multiple comparisons of Google's overseas
Chinese-language search results and the new,
Beijing-approved service at Google.cn. They found
that while some filtering is done using forbidden
keywords, in some cases entire websites are
removed from search results.
websites include overseas news media such as Radio
Free Asia, the Voice of America and the British
Broadcasting Corp, and sites run by followers of
the banned Falungong spiritual movement.
Human-rights sites and images of the 1989 bloody
crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy
movement are also blocked.
executive officer Eric Schmidt defended the
company's decision. "We concluded that although we
weren't wild about the restrictions, it was even
worse to not try to serve those users at all,"
Schmidt told attendees at a recent technology
seminar at the World Economic Forum in Davos,
"We actually did an evil
scale and decided [that] not to serve at all was
worse evil," he said, referring to the company's
famous "don't be evil" creed.
2006 Radio Free Asia. Used with the permission of
Radio Free Asia