Monday, March 22, 2010

Google Stops Censoring Service: And This is News

"Google Stops Censorship, Making Block by China Likely (Update1)"
Brian Womack, via Bloomberg (March 22, 2010)

" (Adds Chinese government comments in eighth paragraph.)...

"Google Inc., following through on a pledge to stop censoring search results in China, began serving mainland Chinese users via its unfiltered Hong Kong site, a move that could prompt the government to block the service.

"The company began redirecting traffic from its site to Hong Kong, a part of the country that isn't subject to censorship laws. The move, which escalates a two- month dispute with the government over censorship, was 'totally wrong,' the official Xinhua news agency said.

"By relying on Hong Kong, Google is trying to find a way to fight censorship laws while still keeping a presence in mainland China. The approach may not work for long because the government will probably block the site, called, just as it has before with the main page, said Ben Schachter, an analyst at Broadpoint AmTech Inc. in San Francisco...."

I'm glad to hear that Hong Kong isn't, ah, quite as 'protected' as the masses in the rest of China. I suspect that the party leaders in Beijing realize, at some level, that it wouldn't be a good idea to choke the intellectual and financial life there.

But that's another topic.

I'm somewhat impressed that Google's willing to buck the system in the only remaining major worker's paradise on the planet. Not terribly surprised, though: too many people know what's going on in China and Google has a reputation to lose. We don't always call it 'losing face' in the West, but the old-fashioned idea of having values and sticking by them apparently hasn't been entirely lost.

I'm getting off-topic. Following contemporary mores for a moment, I'll blame my environment: specifically a sleep-deprived weekend. ("Lemming Tracks: Back to Work" (March 22, 2010))

Besides, in strictly economic bottom-line terms, Google may have decided that it's better to lose a few bucks by being banned in China, than dropping a bundle in lost revenue everywhere else. Google is an 800-pound gorilla, but there are other online businesses with similar services.

These are interesting times.

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