November 17, 2017

Don’t be Evil? Google to Censor in China, Will Appear Before Congress

By LJ Staff

Google, despite a "Don't be Evil" model, last week said it would censor its search and news materials according to Chinese government standards. "Google.cn will comply with local Chinese laws and regulations," reads a Google statement announcing the launch. The statement went on to say that in deciding how to approach "the Chinese—or any—market," Google must "balance our commitments to satisfy the interest of users, expand access to information, and respond to local conditions." The question, however, is how does the company "expand access to information" when "local conditions" forbid such access? A number of organizations, including Reporters Without Borders were quick to blast Google's decision as a "moral error." The group called Google's China policy a "a black day for freedom of expression in China," adding that Google's previous statements about respecting online privacy were the "height of hypocrisy" in view of its  China policy. Representatives of Google and other Internet companies have been called to a hearing on February 1 held by the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.

Meanwhile, Google is fighting a Bush Administration subpoena to turn over U.S. user data to the government. Court documents show that the Bush Administration last year subpoenaed one million random Web addresses and all Google searches from those addresses from any one-week period in an effort to determine the prevalence of pornography online. Google, however, has argued that this request, part of an effort to defend the Child Online Protection Act (which is currently in a federal court), is unduly burdensome and "intended to harass."

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