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Brinksmanship Continues In Google-China Row Over Censorship

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the should-I-stay-or-should-I-lost-carrier dept.

Businesses 133

According to The Financial Times, "Google has drawn up detailed plans for the closure of its Chinese search engine and is now '99.9 per cent' certain to go ahead [with the closure] as talks over censorship with the Chinese authorities have reached an apparent impasse, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking. In a hardening of positions on both sides, the Chinese government also on Friday threw down a direct public challenge to the US search company, with a warning that it was not prepared to compromise on internet censorship to stop Google leaving." "99.9 per cent" or not, both sides say they'd actually like Google to remain in China, but neither is willing to bend publicly on the question of censorship. If Google closes google.cn, as now seems likely, it could still maintain its R&D office in Beijing and its sales force, who sell ads on google.com targeted into China.

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Brinkmanship not Brinksmanship (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466380)

/grammar nazi

Re:Brinkmanship not Brinksmanship (1)

red456 (1760250) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466406)

Nazi not nazi, surely?

Re:Brinkmanship not Brinksmanship (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466668)

"Nazi, not nazi, surely", surely?

Re:Brinkmanship not Brinksmanship (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467206)

i LOLed.

Re:Brinkmanship not Brinksmanship (1)

daniel.b.douglas (1654503) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467808)

Surely "'Nazi, not nazi, surely?', not 'Nazi not nazi, surely?', surely?", not "'Nazi, not nazi, surely', surely?"?

Re:Brinkmanship not Brinksmanship (-1, Troll)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466504)

Both are correct, moron.

are you "99.9 per cent" sure? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31467312)

proofread motherfuckers.

turns out my CAPTCHA is "amateurs," how apt.

Well, that's good to hear (2, Interesting)

Jeian (409916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466392)

It's nice that they're taking a stand, even if the gap will be filled by Baidu fairly quickly.

Re:Well, that's good to hear (4, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466516)

Microsoft will move aggressively to fill the void, promising to proactively censor results AND to report people entering 'improper' terms into Bing.

They will do anything to get another fraction of a percentage point for market share.

Re:Well, that's good to hear (4, Interesting)

JWW (79176) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466688)

I totally agree. Google is taking a stand for freedom on the internet here and it will hurt their business. Microsoft doesn't give a shit about freedom and will increase their business.

People need to really look at what companies do and judge who they should do business with or not. If Microsoft will be willing to sell the internet freedoms of Chinese citizens down the river for a buck, whats to say that someday they won't sell the internet freedoms of American citizens too?

Re:Well, that's good to hear (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466940)

Um...sorry to burst your FUD bubble, but Microsoft has a much better privacy policy than Google, and there is no evidence of Microsoft ever having censored search results at the request of the Chinese government.

Re:Well, that's good to hear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31467004)

I agree that it's FUD, but any company operating a search engine in any capacity in China must censor results. So, yes, by Microsoft being willing to fill Google's void, they are willing to exploit the Chinese for money.

Morally wrong, yes, but I don't think you can realistically hold it against Microsoft. At least Google actually IS leaving. That would have me far more concerned.

Re:Well, that's good to hear (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31468458)

No, Google has a more honest privacy policy. Didn't you read that story about how much information Microsoft has and their policies for turning it over? It was on Wikileaks a while back, I think. That's the problem with people like you. Can't handle honesty, so you punish the guys who are honest and go with the shady guys because they know how to manipulate you into thinking they're trustworthy (even though they're doing everything the other guys are doing and more, just out of the public eye).

Oh, and it's Chinese law to censor search results. There are *NO* search engines operating in China that don't censor. Bing operates in China, so they censor. They just keep quiet about it, though, and that causes the uninformed to conclude that they're more trustworthy.

Re:Well, that's good to hear (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31468312)

will it hurt their business though? the chinese can still access google.com at the end of the day, and they aren't even closing their offices. this all seems like some pointless politcal dick measuring contest.

Re:Well, that's good to hear (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31469956)

I totally agree. Google is taking a stand for freedom on the internet here and it will hurt their business.

Yeah! I totally agree too. After only 5+ years of censorship in China, the geniuses at Google finally took a stand for freedom.

Are you high?

Re:Well, that's good to hear (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466702)

Sorry to burst your little anti-Microsoft bubble, but why the fuck would enough Chinese citizens use Bing, thus giving Bing the "fraction of a percentage point" of market share that you speak of, if Bing partook in such behavior?

In reality, they'd totally ignore Bing and use Baidu instead.

Re:Well, that's good to hear (0, Troll)

trapnest (1608791) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466776)

[bìng] (noun): illness, disease, malady, (medical) condition

Re:Well, that's good to hear (2, Informative)

koxkoxkox (879667) | more than 4 years ago | (#31468594)

In China it is called Biying, which is more like "surely" + "answer"

Re:Well, that's good to hear (1)

trapnest (1608791) | more than 4 years ago | (#31469880)

I'd mod you up if I hadn't posted.

Re:Well, that's good to hear (1)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470468)

...And Biying sounds like the English word "buying" which is like "gimme"+"money".

It's a huge international capitalist conspiracy! Google it!

Re:Well, that's good to hear (4, Informative)

Avin22 (1438931) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466534)

There was a recent slashdot story on this. The common person in China probably will not see too much of a difference with Google gone, since they do have Baidu, but scientists and researchers will since they rely heavily on Google Scholar, which China has yet to reproduce their own version of.

Re:Well, that's good to hear (5, Insightful)

Redlazer (786403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467026)

But that's the best part of Google leaving.

Anything that rusts the machinery of their fucked government is better. Scientists losing access to important/useful data? This is good news, as it will slow them down. Hopefully, it will be one of many things that will affect change in the country. The first domino, or perhaps, just the middle domino?

Re:Well, that's good to hear (0, Flamebait)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467330)

We should be slowing down their scientists if we can; it will buy the United States extra time to prepare for future threats from China. They have been stealing our best research for years anyway so why make it easy for them? Let the Chinese fund their own damn research for a change.

Re:Well, that's good to hear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31467516)

This is the kind of mentality from some Americans I find quite amusing. On one hand they want to preach their political systems and religion, and on the other hand, they don't want China to get too smart. Don't you think AMD is the one that makes Intel get better and better?

Re:Well, that's good to hear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31467614)

I think the Chinese (or the Indians, Egyptians...) could claim "they have been stealing our best research for centuries").

Re:Well, that's good to hear (3, Interesting)

Redlazer (786403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31468674)

The issue is with this specific regime - their economy is based around technological progress, and getting "caught up" with the rest of the world, infrastructure-wise.

I believe it is the first step in bringing an entire nation forward. Unfortunately, they chose actual oppression over a benevolent dictatorship.

I want them to catch up with the rest of us, because as their people become more educated, they will want to know about this thing we call "Freedom" (speaking as a Canadian, not that the US isn't "Free"). Then people start to get angry, blah blah blah.

However, I still am against oppression and censorship, as what really matters here is an intelligent, free citizenry. Censorship (among other things) is a good way to slow that process, and losing science is a good way to slow the censorship process.

It's a complicated web, and pulling one string tugs on many others. Pull on them enough, and if it unravels around a competent populace, they will rebuild around their current ideals. Hopefully their ideals are right, if not, the process will start again.

Since time immemorial.

Re:Well, that's good to hear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31468880)

>> as their people become more educated, they will want to know about this thing we call "Freedom"

I doubt that. It's a common misconception in the west that in China the people are brainwashed by the government. On a certain intellectual level almost all the Chinese have quite the same mindset. I am a Chinese myself and I know how hard it is to be able to see some of the common things in the Chinese culture. It's even harder to changes things culturally. people can get really relentless when they refuse to change.

Re:Well, that's good to hear (1)

Pinhedd (1661735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467108)

you mean they haven't copied one yet

Re:Well, that's good to hear (1)

vampire_baozi (1270720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31469028)

This isn't a problem. They are closing down the localized version of Google.cn only. Unless the Powers That Be decide to completely block access to Google.com (individual content wouldn't be blocked unless it was "objectionable", and most content on Google Scholar is decidedly apolitical), Chinese scholars can just use the English version. Many of them have decent English, or have access to grad students with decent English. So again, no big loss unless they somehow lose access to the English Google scholar as well.

Re:Well, that's good to hear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466724)

Yea, it's nice alright, that a company thinks they can operate in a country without following the laws of the country (setting aside for a minute whether the laws are "just" and "true" and all that). I wonder how that would that fly in the good ol' US of A or anywhere else for that matter?

Hey, slashdotters! Would you rather be ruled by corporations or by governments? Or is there really a diff?

Re:Well, that's good to hear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466780)

They have been censoring for God knows how long, and the only reason they are getting to leave is cos they realized they family jewels are being kicked around by some chinese hackers. This is the same company that may close 'google.cn' but wants to keep its engineers there - and wants android on phones sold there.

For a company that has 30% of the market share ( the loss will be like losing Microsoft's Bing and Yahoo search engines) - there is enough innovation and a market to keep search happening. Google is not the start and end of search. Google is just the start and end of a monopoly. We may miss it here in the US for say a year or two - but soon after we'll get some cool new players.

Re:Well, that's good to hear (1)

BlueBoxSW.com (745855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466812)

I agree. This is about important principles. It is nice to see them recognize this.

Re:Well, that's good to hear (1)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 4 years ago | (#31468938)

I really don't see that China has anything much to lose over this. Google had some pretty staunch competition anyway from Baidu, which seems to be like a combination of google, youtube and wikipedia, set for the Chinese market.

China is well within it's rights as a sovereign nation to govern it's people in the way it sees fit. We may not agree with all of it's measures, but we don't have to! Google, as a foreign company, should keep it's nose out of Chinese politics.

Not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31469614)

Bing/Yahoo will be all over. Both companies have worked with Chinese gov, such as turning over information that convicted one of the civies. Likewise, MS and Yahoo have had ZERO issues with censoring. I think that it is fair to say that MS and Yahoo will do very well there, esp. since MS is ran just like China.

Wow... (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466396)

Is Google actually delivering on their "Don't be evil" thing?

BTW (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466424)

I deliver my load all over your girlfriend's face... is that close enough?

Re:Wow... (5, Interesting)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467484)

Is Google actually delivering on their "Don't be evil" thing?

It's Sergei, mostly.

Can't find the reference right now, but there's a story out there in which it's posited that his childhood experience in the Soviet Union left him with an aversion to coercive state power. He allowed himself to be talked into going into China by Schmidt and Page, but when it became clear that China was using them to target human rights activists, Sergei baulked.

Having agreed at the outset to put limits on what they would put up with from China, Larry and Eric had no choice but to go along when Sergei insisted that they retaliate.

Re:Wow... (2, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31469062)

I thought I had remembered that too. One of those fun-filled-but-fail-at-a-party facts I have stuffed away. The boys still own Google, or enough of it to decide it's course over any objections by share holders et al.

I feel certain that if Google pulls out of China, they're fucked, so to speak. How then can MS or Yahoo be seen as non-corrupt if they stay? While it's political in nature it has a certain PR value to it as well. Baidu, while fairly well used is basically by Chinese, for Chinese, about Chinese. Outside of China its usefulness falls very quickly. Inside of China it filters whatever it's told to filter. The Chinese, it seems, remain isolationist. Now if we could only paint Walmart et al as evil for doing business with the Chinese. If you want to see the Chinese people free, help motivate them to be angry with their government. Right now, Chinese school children can look at a picture of tank man and not know what it is. Stopping a little censorship won't change that. There needs to be enough anger to spill the blood of tyrants.

I'm afraid that probably won't come till there is no jobs, no money to buy food, no exports income, and no way to buy food from across the border. Culturally, China (as stated above) is stagnate-ish, stuck in their ways, isolationist culturally. You have to do a lot of shaking to get those nuts to fall out of the tree. It may take a lot more people like those running Google to shake the tree hard enough. I hate to say it, but a good international news-making incident might be enough to encourage North Americans to stop buying Chinese made goods. If that hurts North American retailers in the short term, it will hopefully hurt Chinese manufacturers in the long term. A tricky game to say the least, but if you want to play it without guns somebody has to get shot with something in the somewhere at some point.

Perhaps if /b/tards and fag hating Christians stopped their normal crap long enough to petition our government to inspect 100% of incoming goods from China at a cost to the manufacturer it might make a difference to their bottom line, our pets' and children's lives, and the world over all ? It would be awful if Google were to rank stories about Chinese goods higher than they have been doing... don't you think? wink wink nudge nudge

Do It (3, Interesting)

LearnToSpell (694184) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466420)

This is where you put your money where your mouth is, Google. You always want chances to prove your little slogan. Here's a great opportunity to change some people's minds who think you've grown into Everycorp.

Re:Do It (1)

powerspike (729889) | more than 4 years ago | (#31469936)

there a public company now...
"don't be evil" now means don't lose the shareholders money, what did you think it mean?

What changed? (3, Interesting)

hufman (1670590) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466458)

What changed? They used to be fine with censoring their results. Surely a little bit of hacking wouldn't change morals that much; what else has changed?

Re:What changed? (4, Interesting)

skine (1524819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466660)

I'm a bit of a cynic, but it seems to me that Google wanted to leave China after they were hacked, and made an unreasonable (in context) offer to China in order to make the Chinese look like the "bad guys" and Google look like the "good guys."

Re:What changed? (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466998)

I'm a bit of a cynic, but it seems to me that Google wanted to leave China after they were hacked, and made an unreasonable (in context) offer to China in order to make the Chinese look like the "bad guys" and Google look like the "good guys."

Getting hacked by state-sponsored hackers seems like enough of a reason all on its own, no need to make up another one.

Seems more like an attempt to use the hacking as leverage to reduce censorship requirements as in "you hacked us, we're leaving unless you cut restrictions on our business."

Re:What changed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31468630)

Getting hacked by state-sponsored hackers seems like enough of a reason all on its own, no need to make up another one.

Seems more like an attempt to use the hacking as leverage to reduce censorship requirements as in "you hacked us, we're leaving unless you cut restrictions on our business."

[conspiracy]Who says the hackers were controlled by the Chinese government? Google and perhaps the US government, both of whom have been publicly grandstanding about how terrible Chinese censorship is. [/conspiracy]

Re:What changed? (4, Interesting)

pizzap (1253052) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467116)

No, I don't think they ever liked it. From the start Google wasn't offering all its products and had a differianted position on the state censoring and human rights violations. They werren't offering blogs, for example, since they didn't want to cooperate with the chinese police on that issue. This was stated publicly by Google. Competing with a state owned search gigant, while the same state steals your property, can't be much fun for Google.

Re:What changed? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467352)

It was the balance of argument at Google headquarters that changed. Apparently Sergey Brin (who was born in the Soviet Union) has always been fairly opposed to censoring search results, while Eric Schmidt has been in favor of it. Originally Sergey was convinced to go along with it, although reluctantly. Once China started hacking their servers, it really seems to have bugged Sergey, and suddenly he was no longer convinced to go along with it. That's the kind of thing that happens when you have more than one person running a company: the different people have different morals.

Not that much at the end? (1)

hackingbear (988354) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467672)

If Google closes google.cn, as now seems likely, it could still maintain its R&D office in Beijing and its sales force, who sell ads on google.com targeted into China.

I don't know how one would call this strategy a "pull out". That's more "into the market" than before google.cn was established in a time when Chinese users just used google.com directly and that Google could not sell ads directly in China. Only the job of censoring is just shift from google back to the Great Firewall. Neither side seems to lose anything and both sides can now claim victory. "Don't do evils, just collect money and let others do the evils"

Maybe google now becomes more popular in China than before. Very creative marketing move by appealing to populism!

So? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466480)

Why should China care if Google goes or stays? All China has to do is checkout the source code from the internal Google repository, and build their own.

Giants (-1, Troll)

saadmubeen (1765984) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466560)

Both are giants in there respective positions...China is now leading the world's economy whereas Google holds its position as the leader of Internet Business....It will be great if these two sort out there matters peacefully... Regards http://www.saadstore.com/ [saadstore.com]

Google is the only one that stands to lose... (2, Interesting)

foodnugget (663749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466574)

While I'm fairly certain that google doing this is the right thing to do, I don't see how this hurts China. It would be trivial (read: a matter of trivia, not necessarily super easy, but it has obviously been done before, and is a known process) to have a new emerging search engine for China.
Google could stay there and stay on top because they have the best product (for now). If they leave the market, something will fill the vacuum and profit greatly from the billion.s of people in China.
I don't think China has much to lose here, I'm curious as to whether or not someone has a good convincing argument to the contrary?

Re:Google is the only one that stands to lose... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466626)

While I'm fairly certain that google doing this is the right thing to do, I don't see how this hurts China. It would be trivial (read: a matter of trivia, not necessarily super easy, but it has obviously been done before, and is a known process) to have a new emerging search engine for China.

I agree for the most part, although Google could pursue this issue through the WTO. It'd be interesting to see if anything would come of that.

Re:Google is the only one that stands to lose... (5, Insightful)

Jenming (37265) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466710)

I don't think its Google's intention to hurt China. To me it just seems they don't want to do business in a country that pushes them around.

Re:Google is the only one that stands to lose... (3, Insightful)

henrypijames (669281) | more than 4 years ago | (#31469678)

Right, 'cause it's much nicer to do business in countries where corporate can push government around (like in the US of A).

Re:Google is the only one that stands to lose... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466926)

Google is not on top in China and never has been.

Re:Google is the only one that stands to lose... (1)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467182)

China might lose because this discourages other businesses to operate in China.

Re:Google is the only one that stands to lose... (2, Insightful)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467598)

China loses because Google is the best search engine, especially for scholarly papers, books and such. Sure they have Baidu, but it is basically the AOL of China; very popular with those who don't know better. University students, engineers, and smart people in general prefer Google, especially when searching in English. I suspect Google leaving China will lead to more people bypassing the filters to get to Google.

Also, Google has been a symbolically important, and may influence other western companies.

Bad summary, Google isn't pulling out of China (1, Informative)

edelbrp (62429) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466592)

From the article:

"It’s very important to know we are not pulling out of China"

At most, it appears they would stop offering search services.

Re:Bad summary, Google isn't pulling out of China (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466782)

Get your brain checked. The summary is fine, and your "informative" clarification is already stated in the summary.

Re:Bad summary, Google isn't pulling out of China (1)

edelbrp (62429) | more than 4 years ago | (#31469912)

Checked. Works fine! (thumbs up!)

I'm saying that the summary misses the important point that Google isn't at all interested in not doing business in or with China which many people would like to hear. It's clearly misleading fellow commenters here if you scroll up or down which is why I posted my original comment early on.

I RTFA! So sue me! Shesh.

Re:Bad summary, Google isn't pulling out of China (2, Informative)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467156)

The search services are the part that pertains to censorship. Google isn't severing business ties, they are refusing to facilitate censorship.

Google the political player (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466600)

It's funny, I don't recall Microsoft ever having this kind of pull, to be able to influence the market on a political level. But everyone uses Windows so I guess they're in for the profit all the way. Google apparently is a little different.

Re:Google the political player (2, Insightful)

Jenming (37265) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466722)

I am not sure what pull you are talking about. Google threatened to leave China if they didn't stop censoring, China told them they are free to go.

Thats not a lot of pull in my book.

Re:Google the political player (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31469500)

It's funny, I don't recall Microsoft ever having this kind of pull

Those who pull the strings usually don't want to be seen doing that.

keeping your eye off the ball (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466644)

which is to say we needn't pretend to focus on china's woes when our censorship/misinformation machine grinds away the facts, replacing them with the fluff&dismay stories of our 'idols'.

never a better time to consult with/trust in your creators, where all of the realness resides.

Brinksmanship? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466682)

Why do you say that? It looks like a contract dispute to me, and if they can't come to terms, business will cease.

Talking about keeping open the marketing and development office shows that. If it were brinksmanship, they'd just pull out.

The shareholders are not going to accept Google forgoing huge profits for ethical reasons. That's not how corporate governance works.

Google played badly (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466802)

They should not have publicized charges against the Chinese government when they had no actual proof of their involvement. By doing so, it makes Google look like they're taking advantage of a situation in order to attempt extralegal government reform. If that play failed, they had the choice of either kowtowing in apology or going home. Neither really does much for their profile. They had no contingency and now they've lost both the opportunity to be a force of reform in China and their stake in that billion-plus market. In contrast, the Chinese government walks away from this almost entirely unharmed. Their censorship policies are already known so they lose nothing in that regard. They were only asking that the company obey the laws that every other company must obey. And their argument need only be that, surely, Google is not suggesting that it is above the law?

Google went public too early, before they had the means to prove their case and without thinking about the strength of their position. They foolishly thought that the incident itself and an accompanying accusation would be enough for a foreign company to topple government policy.

Re:Google played badly (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31467820)

I reckon they do have the proof but it cannot be discussed in the public arena, nor probably the private one. To reveal the evidence would expose something you have but don't want to be publicly known. The chinese know this and being the Eastern business entrepreneurs they are, know how to use it best against a Western mind.

The Chinese government and big steel companies (one and the same really) have been doing this with resource exporting nations for years.

"The market price for resource_x is $10/unit? That agreement that was signed a year ago to purchase at $13/unit for three years means nothing. The market price is now lower so we want that price." And they get it.

Re:Google played badly (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 4 years ago | (#31468592)

time to set up a cartel...

What fool would sell ads in China? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466818)

Consider the arrest of Rio Tinto's Chinese management and it's clear that any senior employee remaining in China would become hostage to Google's continued censorship of search results.
-- Newall

Why does everyone support Google in this? (3, Insightful)

Capena (1713520) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466820)

If they can't get the government to stop censorship, what is the point of Google pulling out of China? It looks like the result of Google's actions will be:
- there is less search engine choice in China
- (presumably) some people from Google China will lose their jobs

It would be completely different if Google was so important that they could force the Chinese government to do what they want. But they are not even the biggest search engine in China. Why is everyone acting like Google is doing the right thing, when it seems like what they are doing will be bad for everyone involved (the employees, users, and shareholders)?

Re:Why does everyone support Google in this? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466910)

Standing up for your principals isn't about doing what's convenient or causing the least damage. China has been very concerned in the last decade about being part of the global community. Imagine if every company took the same path as google and essentially shut china off from the internet outside their country. They would get the message.

Re:Why does everyone support Google in this? (2, Insightful)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466980)

In my country, it is completely illegal to search for the word "Capena" or the phrase "government corruption".

Are you ok with that?

Re:Why does everyone support Google in this? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31469812)

In my country, it is completely illegal to search for the word "Capena" or the phrase "government corruption".

Are you ok with that?

You think that sucks? In my country, government corruption isn't just acknowledged publicly, but accepted as unchangeable. We've elected men convicted on seven felony corruption charges. [bostonherald.com] We have people who were never elected to any office [bloomberg.com] handing out checks for 630 billion dollars even after our elected officials emphatically said "NO!"

As for Chinese censorship... It's completely illegal to view BBC World News [livestation.com] here in the US. I have to proxy through China to watch it. Are you ok with that?

Silence is consent (2, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31468790)

It's one thing to know you are helpless to stop evil from happening. It's quite another thing to accept it to the point where you participate in it. Google got in there presumably hoping to in some way help turn the course a little bit. If there's no hope they can do that, there's only money. For Bing that might be enough, but apparently for Google it isn't.

Who is Google fooling (0, Troll)

camcorder (759720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466902)

Google can fool nobody. They lost in China. Baidu is a clear winner. And this hack thing is just to blame for them for their failure. If they were such a big network company they could have easily eliminated such an attack, but they couldn't and now they just don't want to be seen "evil" and blame Chinese government.

They for sure will not leave the China for their operations. It's a huge market. They will just try to hide their incapability but be prepared for better technology for China and they know as much as I do that if they leave the China they will eventually lose market in whole world. If not why it took so long for them close their operations in China? It's just a basic block on Chinese ips which they know what they are.

So mod me down Google fanbois (oh it should hard to find on /.) but that's the reality.

Re:Who is Google fooling (2, Insightful)

kegon (766647) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467090)

I've got no love for Google, they are merely the next hegemony as far as I am concerned. I think it's excessive to say that "Google lost in China". They entered the market late against entrenched local competition. They will always be seen as the face of USA Inc. rather than an independent or local company: they can't play the friendly local card, they will always be the big bad foreigners.

Google wants to be the international search engine, but there is a lot more effort to filter out "inappropriate content". I don't know what form the instructions for censorship take but presumably they have some list of vague words or contexts plus possibly numerous requests for "suspicious results" to be removed. All that work must eat into profits.

Furthermore they believe they are in a hostile climate what with numerous hacking attempts. I can understand why they are thinking to get out. They seem to be doing alright in the rest of the world. Why do you say they have to stay ? Surely they can go off and focus their efforts on something else and come back later ?

Take it to the people (2, Interesting)

wehup (567821) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466912)

Could Google not go on the offensive by listing censored results and providing a link that leads not to the censored content, but to a page explaining that the government is afraid of the content?

My humnle theory (5, Interesting)

trifish (826353) | more than 4 years ago | (#31466920)

What this is all about.

Recently quit a lot of independent security researchers and companies showed evidence that if you do any kind of business in China, you are BOUND to be hacked by "someone" from China. They also said that there is no defence against it (the China attacks will eventually always succeed).

Google was one of the victims of such attacks. They considered the facts. What do we get by doing business in China?

1) Small market share (the Chinese search engine Baidu dominates the search engine market in China)

2) Trojans on our internal networks.

Let's give up (because of 1 and 2). But let's do it in a way that wins us PR points. Let's do it in a way that makes us look good. Like, true fighters for freedom.

Let's tell them we're not going to obey their laws and regulations. We (Google) KNOW that they will not allow us to get away with that. But we don't care, because we've decided to leave anyway.

Re:My humnle theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31468494)

Google is near tied with Baidu's marketshare and is projected to pass it in the next few months.... I mean was projected obviously. So don't act as if Google is giving up nothing.

Chinese traffic is worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31466972)

Seriously.. What can you sell with clicks from China?
Think of all the money that Google can save if they actually blocked all of China from using their services?

Leaving China will be a good thing for Google.

Re:Chinese traffic is worthless (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467244)

the regular stuff only to Chinese people?

Re:Chinese traffic is worthless (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 4 years ago | (#31468614)

China's per-capita GDP is tiny

Glad someone finally grew a pair (1)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467142)

Like google or not, it's good to see a business stand up to the Chinese government.

and this is called a "pull out"? (1)

hackingbear (988354) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467374)

If Google closes google.cn, as now seems likely, it could still maintain its R&D office in Beijing and its sales force, who sell ads on google.com targeted into China.

I don't know how one would call this strategy a "pull out". That's more "into the market" than before google.cn was established in a time when Chinese users just used google.com directly and that Google could not sell ads directly in China. Only the job of censoring is just shift from google to the Great Firewall. Neither side seems to lose anything and both sides can now claim victory. "Don't do evils, just collect money and let others do the evils" Very creative marketing move!

Re:and this is called a "pull out"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31467726)

Most Chinese don't read in any other languages. Even some of my classmates from an elite university complains of the usage of English in our email. That's why the government doesn't care about the English sites, except when there are major events.

Google may lose market share in china (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467902)

by leaving, but they will earn immense PR and public support all around the world that will have far reaching consequences. economically, technically, and due to recent trends, politically.

It's not Google's job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31468018)

to tell the Chinese government how to do things, no matter how wrong they think those ideas are, or how Google justifies those beliefs.

So many people from the US seem to forget to see things from China's POV. As far as they are concerned, this is a method of keeping society's beliefs safe and consistent. Doing things to internet access is only a means to that goal. And don't forget that not everyone in the world has a Manifest Destiny/Rugged Individualism/Self-Interest Maximizing mindset. East Asian cultures value the stability of society the most, and many people from Confucian-based cultures would not disagree with the statement "Society > Individual".

The point being, the average US guy has screwed up beliefs concerning China's motivations behind Internet control. In principle, China is not against freedom. But China is for social stability. Telling China to stop filtering the Internet is tantamount to disagreeing with the aim of social stability, compared to US people's belief that internet filtering can only be an attack on people's freedom/individuality.

Re:It's not Google's job (3, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31468510)

It's not Google's job to tell the Chinese government how to do things, no matter how wrong they think those ideas are, or how Google justifies those beliefs.

What? That makes no sense whatsoever. Google is a U.S. corporation, and could not under any circumstances "tell" the PRC to do anything. The PRC can, on the other hand, tell Google how it must behave when operating within Chinese territory.

Consequently, Google isn't telling anyone how to run their government ... quite the opposite in fact. What Google is objecting to is China's government telling Google how to run Google's business. China is insisting on concessions that Google's founders (in particular, Sergey Brin) are unwilling to accept. End of story. That is their choice and, oddly enough, it's being a U.S. corporation rather than a Chinese corporation that allows them to make that decision. If the converse were true, if it were Baidu being told to bend over and take it, well, let's just say they would do exactly what their government handlers told them to do.

The point being, the average US guy has screwed up beliefs concerning China's motivations behind Internet control.

I see ... and the average Chinese guy has a clear understanding of U.S. motivations behind our current hands-off attitude towards Internet control.

Don't make this into more than it is.

Re:It's not Google's job (1)

genner (694963) | more than 4 years ago | (#31468890)

to tell the Chinese government how to do things, no matter how wrong they think those ideas are, or how Google justifies those beliefs.

So many people from the US seem to forget to see things from China's POV. As far as they are concerned, this is a method of keeping society's beliefs safe and consistent. Doing things to internet access is only a means to that goal. And don't forget that not everyone in the world has a Manifest Destiny/Rugged Individualism/Self-Interest Maximizing mindset. East Asian cultures value the stability of society the most, and many people from Confucian-based cultures would not disagree with the statement "Society > Individual".

The point being, the average US guy has screwed up beliefs concerning China's motivations behind Internet control. In principle, China is not against freedom. But China is for social stability. Telling China to stop filtering the Internet is tantamount to disagreeing with the aim of social stability, compared to US people's belief that internet filtering can only be an attack on people's freedom/individuality.

to tell Google how to do things, no matter how wrong they think those ideas are, or how China justifies those beliefs.

So many people from China seem to forget to see things from Google's POV. As far as they are concerned, this is a method of keeping society's beliefs safe and consistent. Not doing things to internet access is only a means to that goal. And don't forget that not everyone in the world has a Collectivistic Maximizing mindset. American cultures value the freedom of individuals the most, and many people from Christian-based cultures would not disagree with the statement "An injury to one is an injury to all".

The point being, the average Chinese guy has screwed up beliefs concerning Google's motivations behind Internet control. In principle, Google is not against a stable society. But Google is for freedom. Telling Google to keep filtering the Internet is tantamount to disagreeing with the aim of freedom, compared to the Chinese people's belief that internet filtering is the only way to social stability.

Re:It's not Google's job. (1)

doug20r (1436837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31469802)

Well said. If Google are allowed to succeed then please understand that you will all live in fear. You may awaken one morning to have your Google services cut off and if Google are as successful as they aspire to be then you will have few alternatives. If you appeal to Google they will investigate in secret by their own standards and not those of society, they will likely not even contact you or give you a chance to defend yourself, and you will have little chance to challenge Google court. If you complain to your Government they will not be able to do anything - they may remind you that Google whipped China in 2010 and there is little they can do!

Chinese want them gone anyhow (2, Insightful)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31468142)

China has always wanted to build market share for Baidu. The general Chinese diagram of the world ("Us" vs "Barbarians") has never and will never change.

Now Australia Please (1)

zuperduperman (1206922) | more than 4 years ago | (#31468372)

Down here we need a little help. The issue is just not really even impinging on public consciousness. I hope Google takes this stand elsewhere and gives some other countries who are warming to the idea of total control over information flow in their countries something to think about. (Yes, I know it won't happen).

Re:Now Australia Please (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31468528)

I hope Google takes this stand elsewhere and gives some other countries who are warming to the idea of total control over information flow in their countries something to think about. (Yes, I know it won't happen).

Google is an incredibly valuable resource to pretty much every Internet-capable country on this planet. Consequently, the threat of pulling out of a country is a very real one. It's real to China, you can bank on that. The don't currently have a viable alternative to a number of Google's services. Oh, they can certainly duplicate them at some point in the future, but the loss of Google will hurt now. Other countries which do not now, and will probably never have, an alternative to Google are far more likely to be cooperative in this kind of negotiation. That's will be especially true if Google does, in fact, pull out of China.

Re:Now Australia Please (2)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | more than 4 years ago | (#31468856)

Yes. Part of what makes the internet so useful is the 'network effect'. If China loses access to Google's indexes of all the European and US produced information (arguably superior to Baidu's now, and probably will remain so in the future) then they do actually lose the full benefits of the network effect. Now there is an interesting philosophical bit here. Google knows while it is in China it must obey Chinese Law and sovereignty. Rather than break the law they are faced with a dilemma of what to do. They have decided it is not worth doing business is China and the bucketloads money they would make (even if behind Baidu) is not worth 'kowtowing' (now there's an awful word) and reinforcing a repressive censorship policy. Yes, Google will be heavily criticised by some, just as environmentalists in the 1960s and 1970s were mocked at the time, yet the mainstream have accepted parts of that worldview as being necessary for human progress.

Missed Opportunity, plus bonus rant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31468820)

I really think people, and certain governments in particular, are completely missing the boat on this issue.

A good, effective search engine helps authorities find "illicit" content just as effectively as it helps the regular people looking for it.
Even if you are an oppressive government looking to quell dissension, or a "responsible" government looking to crack down on crime and kiddie porn... having access to good search results would -help- you do so more effectively.

"But...", the governments cry, "couldn't we block these evil things from the common prole while maintaining a 'privileged' access so -we- could search?"

No, you can't. The effectiveness of the search results is based on crowdsourcing and the accumulation of access data. Block access and you lose both the data and the effectiveness of your search.
If, for the sake of argument, you wanted to keep your people from accessing porn, or seditious diatribes against the state, you really should embrace open search engines.
Let people search and build up the data to efficiently find the things you detest, then you can search too and block those sites at your great National Firewall of Destiny. No matter how sites change addresses, as the people who want to find them find them, they will bubble up in search results, and your official firewall can be updated.

Effective search engines, like so many things, are in essence morally neutral. You can use them both to free or oppress.

The big problem the global community is running into is that, at a fundamental level, we simply can't agree on what is reasonable, unacceptable, or even illegal. Perhaps the UN can step up with a minimal set of standards for internet conduct... but otherwise we're sinking deeper into a mire of legal confusion. When The Republic of Republica declares it illegal to post images of the Prime Minister (because that helps steal his soul) or mailboxes (due to privacy concerns and a local mailbox vandalism spree), or panda bears (which local religion holds to be symbolic of pure evil), should German, US, or Chinese search engines purge them from their databases? We are now a globall community... and we are very soon going to need a global set of laws and guidelines.

Unfortunately, human beings have proven themselves spectacularly bad at coming up with reasonable compromises on such things. (The EU struggles with this regularly, as does the US.)

Re:Missed Opportunity, plus bonus rant! (1, Offtopic)

Yobgod Ababua (68687) | more than 4 years ago | (#31468838)

Curses. Reboot logged me out. I am the OP.

Re:Missed Opportunity, plus bonus rant! (2, Insightful)

Yobgod Ababua (68687) | more than 4 years ago | (#31468862)

But... if you're blocking level 0 content, this doesn't help. Repost away...

I really think people, and certain governments in particular, are completely missing the boat on this issue.

A good, effective search engine helps authorities find "illicit" content just as effectively as it helps the regular people looking for it.
Even if you are an oppressive government looking to quell dissension, or a "responsible" government looking to crack down on crime and kiddie porn... having access to good search results would -help- you do so more effectively.

"But...", the governments cry, "couldn't we block these evil things from the common prole while maintaining a 'privileged' access so -we- could search?"

No, you can't. The effectiveness of the search results is based on crowdsourcing and the accumulation of access data. Block access and you lose both the data and the effectiveness of your search.
If, for the sake of argument, you wanted to keep your people from accessing porn, or seditious diatribes against the state, you really should embrace open search engines.
Let people search and build up the data to efficiently find the things you detest, then you can search too and block those sites at your great National Firewall of Destiny. No matter how sites change addresses, as the people who want to find them find them, they will bubble up in search results, and your official firewall can be updated.

Effective search engines, like so many things, are in essence morally neutral. You can use them both to free or oppress.

The big problem the global community is running into is that, at a fundamental level, we simply can't agree on what is reasonable, unacceptable, or even illegal. Perhaps the UN can step up with a minimal set of standards for internet conduct... but otherwise we're sinking deeper into a mire of legal confusion. When The Republic of Republica declares it illegal to post images of the Prime Minister (because that helps steal his soul) or mailboxes (due to privacy concerns and a local mailbox vandalism spree), or panda bears (which local religion holds to be symbolic of pure evil), should German, US, or Chinese search engines purge them from their databases? We are now a globall community... and we are very soon going to need a global set of laws and guidelines.

Unfortunately, human beings have proven themselves spectacularly bad at coming up with reasonable compromises on such things. (The EU struggles with this regularly, as does the US.) Often this basically means taking the union of everyone's "forbid" list and declaring it forbidden, which obviously ends up depriving most societies of content they see as reasonable and acceptable in the name of pleasing everyone.

Re:Missed Opportunity, plus bonus rant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470316)

Curses. Reboot logged me out. I am the OP.

No, I'm Spartacus!

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