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Slashback: Google, Surveillance, Stardust

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the no-wonder-privacy-experts-are-twitchy dept.

Slashback 339

Slashback tonight brings some corrections, clarifications, and updates to previous Slashdot stories, including Brin's defense of Google's recent actions in China, DoJ criticizes Microsoft's delay meeting antitrust regulations, Bush allies defend NSA domestic surveillance, Wisconsin rolls back open-source voting, a look back at Pixar, and Stardust samples exceed expectations -- Read on for details.

Brin defends Google's recent actions in China. An anonymous reader writes "Fortune Magazine recently had a chance to talk to Google co-founder Sergi Brin and asked him about the company's decision to accept censorship in China. As you might guess, Brin defended the move. From the article: 'The end result was that we weren't available to about 50 percent of the users. [...] We ultimately made a difficult decision, but we felt that by participating there, and making our services more available, even if not to the 100 percent that we ideally would like, that it will be better for Chinese Web users, because ultimately they would get more information, though not quite all of it.' Human Rights Watch boss Ken Roth, though, wasn't impressed and had a few scathing remarks about the decision."

DoJ criticizes Microsoft's delay in meeting antitrust regulations. Rob writes to tell us that the US Department of Justice is complaining that Microsoft is dragging their feet on certain antitrust technical documentation submission guidelines. From the article: "Microsoft acknowledged the current problems and the steps it is taking to correct them in a recent status report but "has not detailed the seriousness of the current situation," according to the DoJ."

Bush allies defend NSA domestic surveillance. Jason Jardine writes to tell us News.com is reporting that Bush's allies are coming out of the woodwork to support the recently criticized NSA domestic surveillance program. From the article: "In a continuation of a full-court press that began a day earlier, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Tuesday told students at Georgetown University that a wartime president has the lawful authority to eavesdrop on Americans' telephone calls and e-mail messages without court approval." Forgive me if I don't agree.

Wisconsin rolls back open-source voting. Irvu writes "One day after the good news that Wisconsin was requiring open-source electronic-voting software was reported on Slashdot, it was gutted. According to BloackboxVoting.org the open-source public review provisions of the bill were removed and replaced with a version requiring the state to escrow the code and, unless a recount occurs, provide only internal examination. The final form of the bill reads: 'Sec 5.905 "...Unless authorized under this section, the board shall withhold access to those software components from any person who requests access under s.19.35...' Meaning that public review is not required and should be, by default, refused. The Legislation History [PDF]reflects the change and points to the final crippled bill. [PDF]"

A look back at Pixar history. An anonymous reader writes "With all of the recent press coverage of Pixar getting bought out by Disney it seems only fitting to take a look back at Pixar history. LowEndMac.com has an interested retrospective writeup exploring the beginnings of Pixar back in the 1970's by Dick Shoup through to the current day."

Stardust samples exceed expectations. carpdeus writes "MSNBC is reporting that the recent opening of the Stardust sample in a clean room appears to be a great success. From the article: 'It exceeds all expectations,' said Donald Brownlee, Stardust's lead scientist from the University of Washington. 'It's a huge success,' he said in a university statement released Wednesday. 'We can see lots of impacts. There are big ones, there are small ones. The big ones you can see from 10 feet away,' Brownlee observed."

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339 comments

You mean Brin defends his meal ticket (5, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563290)

'...We ultimately made a difficult decision, but we felt that by
participating there, and making our services more available, even if not
to the 100 percent that we ideally would like, that it will be better for
Chinese Web users, because ultimately they would get more information,
though not quite all of it.'


Meaning: "Thereby ensuring that we could sell ads that reach most,
even if not to the 100% that we ideally would like, of the enormous
Chinese market."

Don't kid yourself. This has nothing to do with being evil or not and
everything to do with making money. Great big piles of money.

Re:You mean Brin defends his meal ticket (1)

Too many errors, bai (815931) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563306)

Sure, it's about money, but I still think it's a good idea to provide Google to as many people as possible, even if only partially. It may not be his main reason, but it's a reason nonetheless. Let's just say whatever his reasons, it's for the best.

4 kinds of information (4, Insightful)

Ark42 (522144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563319)

1. What you know you know.
2. What you know you don't know.
3. What you don't know you know.
4. What you don't know you don't know.

As long as Google tells people items where removed from their search because of their government, then Google is still providing information in the form of #2 instead of #4 like other search engines might, or the absense of any search engine would be.

Re:4 kinds of information (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563444)

> 1. What you know you know.
> 2. What you know you don't know.
> 3. What you don't know you know.
> 4. What you don't know you don't know.
>
> As long as Google tells people items where removed from their search because of their government, then Google is still providing information in the form of #2 instead of #4 like other search engines might, or the absense of any search engine would be.

Wow, I didn't know the Secretary of Defense had a Slashdot account!

"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."
- Donald Rumsfeld [quotationspage.com], February 12, 2002

Re:4 kinds of information (5, Insightful)

Mrs. Grundy (680212) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563452)

Also:
5. Things you think you know but are mistaken.

Consider what Tiananmen Square stands for. Now look at the images google returns for the normal search vs the Chinese search and ask yourself what you think you would know from looking at these results:

http://images.google.com/images?q=tiananmen+square [google.com]
http://images.google.cn/images?q=tiananmen+square [google.cn]

Weird (1)

wannabgeek (323414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563479)

I am in India, and I can't seem to be able to go to your second link. Google automatically coerces my www.google.cn link to www.google.com. Even when I type it manually.

Re:Weird (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563553)

I'm in the UK and works fine for me. I think you can guess what the results are.

For .com the first page is nearly all the infamous photo, for .cn it's holiday snapshots.

Re:4 kinds of information (2, Informative)

Ark42 (522144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563516)

I think your #5 is really #4.

I don't condone the censorship, but we all know China would just filter all of Google in its entirety if they didn't make an attempt at complying with local laws.

According to http://babelfish.altavista.com/babelfish/trurl_pag econtent?lp=zh_en&url=http%3A%2F%2Fimages.google.c n%2Fimages%3Fq%3Dtiananmen%2Bsquare [altavista.com]
the bottom of the page says "According to the local law laws and regulations and the policy, the part searches the result not to demonstrate." which I'm sure means something along the lines of "your local laws forced us to remove some of the results from this search".

Again, I don't agree with this censorship, but that is the best it is going to get until the chinese people change their government themselves.

Re:4 kinds of information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563629)

There is a big difference between not knowing (even when you unaware of your ignorance) and "knowing" false information.

Re:4 kinds of information (4, Interesting)

Jjeff1 (636051) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563773)

An anecdote, but somehow fitting. A guy I worked with briefly was Chinese. He explained how his grandparents, who lived in Bejing, only within the last couple years learned what had occured in Tiananmen Square. They always knew that something had happened, but explained that the government controlled media simply told them there was a dangerous situation and that everyone was to remain in their homes or workplaces while the authorities dealt with the problem.

It took over 10 years, and I'd imagine news from their western children/grandchildren, before they knew what really occured. I find this amazing. It's a level of goverment control that I don't think most of us can really grasp.

Re:4 kinds of information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563786)

You would think if they were searching for Tiananmen Square, they would have some understanding of what occurred and realize that it would be blocked. You don't need Google to tell you that.

Re:4 kinds of information (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563808)

It looks like Minitrue is fully operational. The proles will be pleased they can suck on the Google teat once again.

Re:4 kinds of information (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563473)

As long as Google tells people items where removed from their search because of their government, then Google is still providing information in the form of #2 instead of #4 like other search engines might, or the absense of any search engine would be.

Is there any indication that Google does tell people that some results are being censored? I doubt it. Early on, they used to report search results that had been removed because of DMCA censoring, but even then the removal notice was the last result in the search. I haven't seen one of those for years, so I doubt they do it any more. They probably won't do it for the Chinese either.

What would be cool, and would help them regain some of their "do no evil" karma is if there was a "bug" in the censorship filter that accidentally let through a complete search result every now and then, totally at random, to ip addresses that had a high probabilty of being just regular machines and not state enforcer machines.

Re:4 kinds of information (2, Informative)

Ark42 (522144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563534)

See my post above with the translation of "According to the local law laws and regulations and the policy, the part searches the result not to demonstrate."

It does look like Google tells people that things where removed.

Re:4 kinds of information (1)

wannabgeek (323414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563700)

I don't believe adding just a line at the bottom saying "Some results are suppressed" makes them all clean. The fact that the chinese government did not object to putting it up itself says that the government doesn't think it will matter. I'm sure we will see other search engines do the same thing soon.

Re:You mean Brin defends his meal ticket (1)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563327)

Don't kid yourself. This has nothing to do with being evil or not and everything to do with making money. Great big piles of money.

Yeah, but since we found out he's only making $1, it's not so bad right? A man's gotta eat.

Re:You mean Brin defends his meal ticket (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563328)

Don't kid yourself. This has nothing to do with being evil or not and everything to do with making money. Great big piles of money.

Who's kidding themselves? Brin's excuse 'difficult decision', 'being a part of it', having a presence, etc., is what everyone else has effectively said when confronted with it. As if being there, but complying with the Imperial Court (don't fool yourself, these people are, just not in name) wishes they somehow will be positioned for when the leadership suddenly says, "aw heck, let's give the people freedom of speech, unfettered access to information and worldviews and a democracy", they'll be there and ready.

Hoo Hah!

Re:You mean Brin defends his meal ticket (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563344)

"I was just following orders."
The Defense of Every Immoral Fucker Throughout Who Screwed Some Segment of Humanity

Re:You mean Brin defends his meal ticket (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563432)

Brin doesn't realize that he just got in bed with the devil.

He will someday. It's like getting involved with the mob -- it starts small and then just gets a little worse day after day. And then you're in so deep already, and well the next thing the mob requires is just a little worse than what you've already done, so you do that. Rinse, repeat. And then one day you wake up and realize what you've become.

Chinese Google will end up costing Brin his integrity. I hope he doesn't mind sleepless nights, because that's his future.

Re:You mean Brin defends his meal ticket (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563475)

You people are making a big fuss out of nothing PERIOD.

You get searched at the airport with out your permission.

You get searched if you walk into most Federal, state buildings now with out your permission.

etc... etc...

This NSA wire tap is no different, they are not doing it for criminal prosecution, they are doing to help safeguard US citizens, it is no different than getting searched at the airport. At least the NSA is choosing people with some intelligence on them and not eavesdropping on every damn call.

Bullshit. (1, Interesting)

Grendel Drago (41496) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563621)

At least the NSA is choosing people with some intelligence on them and not eavesdropping on every damn call.

I take it you work at the NSA and can actually back this up? Or are we to take the president's word for it?

And I beg to differ that the NSA wiretap is "no different". You know when you're patted down at the airport. You don't know when the NSA wiretaps you. The airport searches are conducted in compliance with the law. The warrantless wiretaps are conducted in violation of the law. It doesn't get much clearer than that.

Re:You mean Brin defends his meal ticket (1)

FhnuZoag (875558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563606)

I'm somewhat sympathetic with Brin's position.

It's extremely disappointing, of course, but a google boycott is never going to force political change in China. Putting that aside, providing a limited service that at least tells users they are seening censorship isn't really worse than no service at all.

Re:You mean Brin defends his meal ticket (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563807)

Or as one person put it.
Google refuses to cooperate with the US government on a investigating porn but does cooperate with the government in China censoring pro-democracy websites.
Google's new motto. Do no evil unless it costs money. Then evil isn't so bad.
I really liked Google until this. I actually support the first act of not turning over records of searches without a search warrant. I find the second act cowardly and greedy.

Capturing The Stuff of Stars (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563294)


NASA/JPL explain how dust was captured in Aerogel [nasa.gov]

alas, poor pixar! i knew him, horatio.

So... how long before the forces of ennui at Disney get to Steve and John, driving them out like Roy? How long before Pixar films are littered with the dumb, ultra-hip Disney characters populate the films?

The Incredibles... and Poochie! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563451)

He's in-your-face!

Aerogel, Pixar, Microsoft (1)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563562)

Aerogel sounds like an excellent insulator, while remaining porus. Presumably, there would be some way of using it to filter by temperature. Hmmm.


Pixar earned my contempt with killing off the Blue Moon Rendering Toolkit. How threatened can they be by free (as in beer) software that didn't even do the same stuff as Renderman? They earned my contempt further with this merger with Disney. Think about this - not long after Nemo came out, the two were at massive loggerheads over contractual and creative disputes. But give Steve Jobs a few million and he's suddenly all sweetness and light?


It seems to me that if the original disputes were real, then they'd still be real today, and Pixar's management sold out. If the disputes were attempts to manipulate, then Disney was suckered into the deal and animation fans were being used as so much bait. One way or another, ethics was busy in the next solar system.


Microsoft trying to sucker the DoJ into letting them violate the antitrust agreements is no great surprise, that they're doing it at the same time as trying to pull a similar stunt in Europe is perhaps more of one. It's hard to tell what the DoJ can or will do, given the current administration. On the other hand, the move may make the EU more cynical and more inclined to reject Microsoft's appeal. Depending on relative speed of action, if the EU does reject Microsoft's offering of "limited" code at a price and under a highly restrictive licence, the DoJ is likely to be a little tougher. Not too much - this IS election year - but enough that it won't create bad publicity from them going soft.

The US is not in a state of war (5, Insightful)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563316)

"Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Tuesday told students at Georgetown University that a wartime president has the lawful authority to eavesdrop on Americans' telephone calls and e-mail messages without court approval."
Even if that Gonzales' statement was true (which it isn't), the United States is not in a state of war, so the reasoning is completely specious.

For the United States to enter a war, Congress must exercise their constitutional authority to declare war. They have chosen not to do so.

Re:The US is not in a state of war (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563399)

This just shows what the current administration truly wants.

They want the President to have absolute power (i.e. the power of a dictator) whenever we are at war. At the same time, they claim we are in an ongoing war (the War on Terror) which will never actually be concluded.

Logically, this means that they believe the President should always have absolute power.

Re:The US is not in a state of war (1)

X (1235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563639)

Yes, this is one of many troubling aspects of applying something like the War Powers Resolution or the Geneva Convention to an organization like Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, in all the excitement after September 11th, 2001, there wasn't much discussion of these issues. The good news is that perhaps once word gets out that this is in fact legal, and that it is one of the consequences of declaring war, perhaps folks will reflect on whether it makes sense to continue to be "at war" with Al Qaeda.

Re:The US is not in a state of war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563841)

Since when is the truth flamebait?

Moderator, have you paid attention to any of the White House's press announcements?

If you have, have you bothered to put them together and understand the implications?

Re:The US is not in a state of war (1, Interesting)

CatHerder (20831) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563510)

For the United States to enter a war, Congress must exercise their constitutional authority to declare war. They have chosen not to do so
Why oh why is this simple, yet critical fact so rarely spoken? Congress authorized funds, but NEVER declared war!

Re:The US is not in a state of war (5, Informative)

X (1235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563586)

Why oh why is this simple, yet critical fact so rarely spoken? Congress authorized funds, but NEVER declared war!

It's not spoken of because it's not true. Take a look at Senate Joint Resolution #23 from Sept. 18th, 2001 (see link in my other comment in this thread). It very much authorizes the use of force, and most importantly invokes the War Powers Resolution. It doesn't mention one thing about funds.

Re:The US is not in a state of war (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563632)

Um, you mean the resolution that says:

(b) Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 4(a)(1), whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), [b]unless the Congress (1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces, (2) has extended by law such sixty-day period, or (3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States. Such sixty-day period shall be extended for not more than an additional thirty days if the President determines and certifies to the Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces.

Do you need help with the math on that one?

Re:The US is not in a state of war (1)

X (1235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563680)

Um, you mean the resolution that says: ....

Yup, that one.

Wait, you didn't think those generals were testifying to congress all the time because they thought it was fun, did you? ;-)

Re:The US is not in a state of war (4, Informative)

X (1235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563547)

Even if the Gonzales' statement was true (which it isn't)

No, it really is:
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode50/us c_sec_50_00001811----000-.html [cornell.edu]

the United States is not in a state of war

No, it really is.

For the United States to enter a war, Congress must exercise their constitutional authority to declare war. They have chosen not to do so.

Actually they have. First, the US is at war "with those responsible for the Sept. 11'th attacks" [cornell.edu] and it is at war with Iraq [cornell.edu]. Both bills specifically invoke the War Powers Resolution.

Given that the wiretaps are in theory being used to track down suspected members of Al Qaeda, they would appear to be authorized by and well within the scope of the Sept. 18th resolution.

It's sad when actions with such significance are glossed over to the extent that people aren't actually aware of them.

Re:The US is not in a state of war (0, Offtopic)

Alereon (660683) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563613)

For the United States to enter a war, Congress must exercise their constitutional authority to declare war. They have chosen not to do so.

Actually they have. First, the US is at war "with those responsible for the Sept. 11'th attacks" and it is at war with Iraq. Both bills specifically invoke the War Powers Resolution.

A RESOLUTION authorizing the use of military force is not a declaration of war, nor does it carry any legal weight. It's entirely symbolic, as the president requires no consent of congress to use the Military however he wishes. He's the commander in chief, the actions of the military are under his sole discretion. A DECLARATION OF WAR requires an act of congress. This was just congresss saying "Sure, we agree with you, go ahead and invade Iraq. We can't stop you and we don't plan to try."

Re:The US is not in a state of war (1)

X (1235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563772)

A RESOLUTION authorizing the use of military force is not a declaration of war, nor does it carry any legal weight.

That's one legal opinion, but there appear to be a lot of opinions to the contrary. Certainly, based on your interpretation the War Powers Resolution really doesn't do anything. VP Cheney might agree with you, but Nixon who vetoed it and the Congress that ratified it anyway seem to think it was of some signifigance.

A DECLARATION OF WAR requires an act of congress.

In what way is this not an "act of congress"?

This was just congresss saying "Sure, we agree with you, go ahead and invade Iraq. We can't stop you and we don't plan to try."

The notion that they can't do anything to stop the President derives from the notion that the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional. Even if that were true, the Congress clearly has the ability to force the Executive branch to make that case to the Judicial branch to strike down the act.

Re:The US is not in a state of war (2, Insightful)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563551)

Oh! But can't you see that we're in a war on terrorism? A war on a tactic, with no clearly-defined enemy, no location where it's taking place, no fighting, and - most importantly - not even a clear condition whereby we could determine that we have won it...

What Gonzales means is "we (that is, the president and administration) have the right to do whatever we want, all the time, without any boundaries, oversight, or responsibility".

The strange thing about that, though, is that it should be obvious that this statement, no matter how you take it, will not only affect Dubya and future republican presidents, but Democrats as well. I'm not sure what he's thinking, but does he really want to give that kind of power to his enemies? The answer is obviously no - so what will he do to ensure that all future presidents will be republicans? Rigging the elections is a good idea, and it has been proven to work at least twice now (and there wasn't even a big outcry anymore the second time), but is that all?

What *does* he really have planned?

Re:The US is not in a state of war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563626)

For the United States to enter a war, Congress must exercise their constitutional authority to declare war. They have chosen not to do so.

Actually, yes, they did [bbc.co.uk]. The first Gulf War never ended, we had a very long cease-fire.

I disapprove of the war too, but arguing that Congress didn't approve it is false.

Re:The US is not in a state of war (0, Troll)

pben (22734) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563681)

Silly boy, everybody knows that this administration beleives in a strict interpretation of the constitiution except when it is inconvenient for them.

Just remember this: "The rules do not apply to me" and you will understand Dubya a lot better.

Re:The US is not in a state of war (0, Troll)

monkeydo (173558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563729)

And then Scuttle Monkey added: "Forgive me if I don't agree."

Why would anyone care about Scuttle Monkey's interpretation of Constitutional Law? Even if I didn't like his conclusion, I'd give much more credence to the US AG's interpretation of the Constitution than a /. editor.

Re:The US is not in a state of war (1)

I!heartU (708807) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563820)

Or you could take it as a backhanded comment that even a lowly /. editor can see the abuse happening and the current administration is oblivious.

Re:The US is not in a state of war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563827)

Do I detect Monkey envy?

:)

Actually it is (in a legal state of war). (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563748)

And just because you don't know it, doesn't make it so. Congress has approved the state of war we are currently in. If you would spend a little time looking, you'd know it.

I just saw this on PBS.... (5, Insightful)

IAAP (937607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563324)

Sergi Brin and asked him about the company's decision to accept censorship in China. As you might guess, Brin defended the move.

For one, on the bottom of the Chinese results they do show that the results were filtered according to local law. So, the Chiniese citizens are in fact informed that their results are being filtered indirectly by their Governement.

For two, Google, after all, is a business. They are not a NGO, charity, or some other organization that's in existance to make this planet a better World (TM). They are here to make their shareholders (and themselves) a return on their investment.

Three, Corporate citizenship, HA hahhahahahhahahhahahahhahahhahahahhahahhahahahhaha hhahahahha!

Four, there is no Easter Bunny or Santa Clause!

Five, you get my point.

Re:I just saw this on PBS.... (4, Insightful)

linguae (763922) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563469)

For two, Google, after all, is a business. They are not a NGO, charity, or some other organization that's in existance to make this planet a better World (TM). They are here to make their shareholders (and themselves) a return on their investment.

To quote Milton Friedman:

"The only social responsibility of a corporation is to deliver a profit to its shareholders"

Corporations don't exist to be humanitarian organizations. Their job is to make as much money as possible, while remaining within the law.

Re:I just saw this on PBS.... (4, Insightful)

no_opinion (148098) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563582)

Right, despite their slogan of "Do No Evil" Google is still a corporation. Maybe their reality distortion field will start to lose its strength now.

Re:I just saw this on PBS.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563835)

Which means to walk the edge of the law as much as possible? Expose workers to hazardous materials until there's a specific law against them? Exploit the environment as much as possible. Fire your elderly workers so long as the money you save by not paying benefits offsets the cost of the lawsuits against you? Hire lobbiests to do your crimes for you?


Corporations are made of people, and many people like nice people better than mean people.
That's one reason to be a good corporation, anyway.

Re:I just saw this on PBS.... (1)

jchenx (267053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563502)

I think most people understand that Google is a business and ultimately must do what's best for their shareholders. However, the issue that irks most folks is that Google likes to claim that they "do no evil". Sounds great at first, until they start doing more and more stuff that's "not so good". Now they just sound more holier than thou, without really fulfilling their promise.

If they never claimed to be a do-gooder type of company, then there probably won't be much flak over this. However, Google would probably have fewer fans as well.

Re:I just saw this on PBS.... (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563701)

Spot on. When Moe from the local auto shop gets busted for hiring a hooker, it's one thing. When it's Jimmy Swaggart, well, there's a whole new hypocracy dimension.

Bush in 20 years (3, Insightful)

TibbonZero (571809) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563335)

It will be interesting to see how things are viewed when more of the 'truth' is settled on in 20 years for this administration. Will they be seen as the just and right protectors of Democracy, or will he be seen as the worst president of all time?

IMHO, they are with this CIA blowup working on either
1)Nailing their own coffin shut on this
2) Permanently dismantling the basics of american freedoms

"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security"
Ben Franklin

Re:Bush in 20 years (1)

cgranade (702534) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563445)

I suppose what amazes me is how he is seen now. What Bush has done is amazing for anyone even slightly versed in US political history. The ideas of checks and balances and the separation of powers, so essential to the mechanism by which our government is kept from encroaching upon us, do not even give Bush pause. We are discussing a man who called the Constitution a goddamned [comlinks.com] piece [capitolhillblue.com] of [typepad.com] paper [opednews.com]. Remember the Oath of Office? The Constitution [archives.gov] specifies that:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

How will history remember him is a small consolation for those of us concerned about our liberty.

Re:Bush in 20 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563832)

The original source for that quote came from someone looking to push some copies of their book.

Apparently fact checking is only useful when it's not you who's saying the "facts"

Wild guess... (1)

Gorimek (61128) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563460)

Will they be seen as the just and right protectors of Democracy, or will he be seen as the worst president of all time?

I'm gonna go out on a limb and predict it will be somewhere in between. And that different people will have different opinions.

Re:Bush in 20 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563594)

In 20 years and further after that, I sincerely believe George W. Bush will be remembered as one of the greatest Presidents on our history. Dealing with 9/11, and dot-com bubble collapse, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has not been easy or popular with everybody.

It's easy to say now Bush is wrong in doing this wiretapping or whatever else he's pursuing. But difficult times call for difficult measures. After all, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and FDR interned Japanese Americans.

I'm glad George W. Bush took the initiative and boldly acting in spite of the naysayers. He's succeeded in turning around the economy and thwarting further attacks on the homeland. In 20 years, Islamic terrorism will be erradicated and we will thank George W. Bush for it.

I want to know where it will all stop. (3, Interesting)

Grendel Drago (41496) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563345)

I want some big, important pundit on the right to give an example of something the president does not, by their lights, have the authority to do. If he becomes a dictator in wartime (which it's mighty sketchy to say we're in), why not come out and say this? Can he rape and murder? No, seriously, if he can break one law, why not others?

Shit, I thought I understood our system of government--the legislature expresses the will of the people in laws; the executive branch then implements and executes said laws. For instance, if Congress makes kidnapping a federal offense, the FBI (under the Department of Justice) investigates kidnappings. But according to some of our less stable pundits and her commenters [typepad.com], "The legislature cannot limit the authority of the president, just like the president cannot limit the authority of the legislature." So, does he have divine, kingly powers now? Did we suddenly get that?

Oh, who am I kidding? Clearly the president's imperial authority stops at the beginning of the next Democrat administration.

Re:I want to know where it will all stop. (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563389)

> I want some big, important pundit on the right to give an example of something the president does not, by their lights, have the authority to do. If he becomes a dictator in wartime (which it's mighty sketchy to say we're in), why not come out and say this? Can he rape and murder? No, seriously, if he can break one law, why not others?

Well, you see, it's necessary - we have laws that prevent our leaders from raping and murdering our citizens over here. But these are different times. We rape and murder our citizens over there, so we don't have to rape and murder our citizens over here! Why do our citizens hate our freedom?

The imperial President (1)

sulli (195030) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563418)

I just love how so-called small government conservatives are falling over themselves to become apologists for the president's dictatorial power grabs. [slate.com] It's really appalling.

Then again, civil liberties progressives were ok with crackdowns by Clinton and Janet Reno, so hypocrisy goes both ways.

Re:I want to know where it will all stop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563487)

According to constitutional law, the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces, however, the congress is the only body that can declare war. Since the end of WWII, congress has abdicated it's responsibility, and not declared war. That is the reason Jane Fonda could not be prosecuted for treason during the Vietnam Warxxx armed conflict.

Also, since there is no official state of war existing, the geneva conventions are not brought into play so american soldiers can't be prosecuted as war criminals for torture. On the other hand, if there is no official state of war there are no expanded powers for the president either. All the president can do is command the armed forces. He cannot violate constitutional law set down by the constitution and congress.

Re:I want to know where it will all stop. (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563724)

"If he becomes a dictator in wartime, why not come out and say this? Can he rape and murder? [...] if he can break one law, why not others?

Well, in theory, if he has to rape and murder to "protect and defend the constitution" then, yes, I suppose he can. Again, in theory.

One of the things that annoys me about the debate, though, is that the support for this comes from the fact that the President is the Commander-in-Chief. However, he is the Commander-In-Chief of the military, not of the country. This is where their argument falls apart.

IANACS (Constitional Scholar), so I may be wrong. But if I remember correctly, the constitution places restraints on military operations within the United States. For example, the federal government cannot deploy the military in any state without first getting permission from the governor of the state. This was part of the issue back in the 1960s when LBJ was going to send the Army into Alabama to protect Civil Rights protesters. If I remember my history correctly, George Wallace was not going to allow this and was going to send the Alabama National Guard to fight them. LBJ called Wallace to the White House and convinced him to allow troops.

(Random aside: I remember this coming up after Hurricane Andrew in Florida. The governor at the time had explicitly ask for the President to send military troops to prevent looting, etc. He could not do it without the governor asking.)

So if spying is a military operation, it cannot be used within the continental United States without permission of the governor of the state where the spying is to occur. If spying is a civilian operation (The NSA/FBI/CIA are not branches of the military), then the President's status of Commander-in-Chief is irrelevant to the argument.

Re:I want to know where it will all stop. (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563745)

"If he becomes a dictator in wartime, why not come out and say this? Can he rape and murder? [...] if he can break one law, why not others?

Well, in theory, if he has to rape and murder to "protect and defend the constitution" then, yes, I suppose he can. Again, in theory.

One of the things that annoys me about the debate, though, is that the support for this comes from the fact that the President is the Commander-in-Chief. However, he is the Commander-In-Chief of the military, not of the country. This is where that argument falls apart.

IANACS (Constitional Scholar), so I may be wrong. But if I remember correctly, the constitution places restraints on military operations within the United States. For example, the federal government cannot deploy the military in any state without first getting permission from the governor of the state. This was part of the issue back in the 1960s when LBJ was going to send the Army into Alabama to protect Civil Rights protesters. If I remember my history correctly, George Wallace was not going to allow this and was going to send the Alabama National Guard to fight them. LBJ called Wallace to the White House and convinced him to allow troops.

(Random aside: I remember this coming up after Hurricane Andrew in Florida. The governor at the time had explicitly ask for the President to send military troops to prevent looting, etc. He could not do it without the governor asking.)

So if spying is a military operation, it cannot be used within the continental United States without permission of the Governors. If spying is a civilian operation (The NSA is not a branch of the military), then the President's status of Command-in-Chief is irrelevant to the argument.

Not with the next Democratic president! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563801)

Obviously you are too young to remember Clinton and his abuse of presidential powers. If you think Bush is bad, then you'll have a heart attack if you look at the things Clinton endorsed through his record amount of Executive orders, domestic spying, and illegal wars abroad (remember Kosovo? Congress and the UN -both- never approved it).

Administration BS (2, Informative)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563350)

If I recall correctly, the reason domestic surveilance laws were originally created was due to Nixon administration abuse of the FBI to gather data on people the administration didn't like. Some one correct me if I'm wrong -- it's not something American school history classes like to go into, for some reason. Some very clear laws and some very clear checks were created, and it has been noticed that the secret court that was established for that very reason has never declined a request and allows for retroacive filing for a warrant to tap a phone conversation.

I trust that the "It's not illegal because we don't think it is" defense will convince no one. This administration is resembling the Nixon administration more and more, and I can only hope that it ends the same way.

Re:Administration BS (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563658)

it has been noticed that the secret court that was established for that very reason has never declined a request and allows for retroacive filing for a warrant to tap a phone conversation.

This is why I don't understand the effort to justify spying without a warrant. If it's that easy to get a warrant, and you can file up to 72 hours after the fact, what makes it so necessary to be able to spy without a warrant?

It's like arguing that agents *must* be allowed to breathe without air, because they might not have time to find some air first. It's not that difficult to go through procedures. Is the warrantless wiretap practice supposed to be some paperwork reduction policy?

Google should convert search terms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563354)

...to 'leet and spamspeak. Search for Tibet, and it comes back with an article on T1b3t. Tiananmen could come back "Ti4n4m3n." Hire a spammer to keep changing things around -- after all, cool words like Viaggra and C1aL15 don't make themselves -- and they should stay one step of the Chinese authorities while obeying the letter of the law.

Note: IANACL (I am not a Chinese Lawyer)

Re:Google should convert search terms (1)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563428)

Unfortunately, I rather suspect the Chinese government would care about the letter of the law... or just change it. It's rather like being banned from forums, where creating another account or spoofing your IP to get back in is an infraction even if they don't tell you... if they find out they just ban you again. I doubt the Chinese would hesitate to ban google entirely if they failed to comply with the intent of the law.

Re:Google should convert search terms (1)

wannabgeek (323414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563560)

IMHO, one obeying the "letter" of the law doesn't cut it. This is China we are talking about, if the authorities _think_ that you're not doing what they asked for, you go to the jail if you're an individual, or thrown out if you're a company. Authorities do not have to prove to anyone that you broke the law.

China (3, Insightful)

bm_luethke (253362) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563374)

While I don't particularly care for what China is doing, I can't particularly blame google.

First off, his statement is correct - that is a large market. I can't blame them for wanting to get into it. The Chinese govt is the one imposing the standards - hate them.

Secondly, this is still a march towards not having the censorship. If you demand an all or nothing approach then, at least with this Chinese Govt you will get the "nothing" end of the bargain. It's like demanding "Give me a million dollars or give me death" - while the million dollars would be nice, death sucks and will be the option you are stuck with if you stay headstrong about those being the only two options. Better to choose the path that will get you to the million dollars as quickly as possible and still be likely.

Right now, Chinese Govt is in a hard place (though very good for the rest of the world and the Chinese people). If they do not progress they will die, in order to progress they need to open the information avenues. By opening those avenues they are going to die. All this will do is give another way for dissidents to gather information and learn and show normal average people what they are missing.

It would be nice to wave a magic wand and have them be a free country, but that isn't going to happen. It's going to take a long series of concessions with a final bloody conflict, though with enough of their country inching towards it it will be less bloody - in the long run stuff like this will save lives even if it isn't what you want ideologically.

As to if the founder of google are being greedy bastards who trample on the Chinese rights or see the second part of what I say will depend on your view of the company. They aren't going to say either way. Given Google's past I generally suspect that the second benefit I said plays in their decision - though I do not know how much.

Good Sense vs. Bad Sense (1)

catahoula10 (944094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563377)

"We ultimately made a difficult decision,"

We have to pick our fights carefully in life as well as in our professional life. Some battles can be won, some can not be won. This one could not be won. For now anyway.

Good choice imho.

Re:Good Sense vs. Bad Sense (1)

honkycat (249849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563781)

I agree. Plus, there is a lot of value from Google, even censored Google. 99.9% of the things I do with Google would not be affected in the slightest bit by political censorship, and I get an enormous benefit from doing those searches. The PRC is *not* going to bow down before Google and stop being evil, they'll just go without. Remind me, how does it help a Chinese peasant not to give him partial access to Google?

No Google < Censored Google < Uncensored Google

I find it amusing people think google (1)

hsmith (818216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563383)

is "Standing up" to the US gov't to "defy" them with this request for search information. When they are going right along with the chinese gov't with censoring their citizens. Please, they are looking to make money, nothing else. i like the company, but "Doing no evil" is nothing more than propaganda to keep people happy with the company and avoid MS anti-trust problems.

And In Other News... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563388)

Sergi Brin, co-founder of search engine supercompany, Google, was defending Google's caving in to the Tyrants of Beijing.

"We feel that we are in fact doing a public service." Brin said, as he was buttfucked by several high ranking Communist officials. "Now that Google is co-operating with Beijing, they're letting me use lube."

Responding to criticism from human rights groups and anyone with a sense of decency, Brin replied "Look, you have dry anal sex with all those guys and come back and tell me we made the wrong decision."

Google in China (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563413)

... "yeah, it was difficult to throw away morals, and make lots of money for shareholders, and hell, I make $1 a year, all of my money comes from stock, but hey, someone has to offer search services in China" ...

Come on. Do no evil? Right. They are compromising on morals to appease either stockholders or to up their bottom line.

Microsoft is doing it. Yahoo is doing it. Correct. But neither of them claim to "Do no evil". By doing that Google is claiming to adhere to a higher power. But then they lower themselves to the same level. China doesn't need Google. Google decided they needed China.

Re:Google in China (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563491)

China doesn't need Google. Google decided they needed China.

On the contrary China does need Google. It needs to show anyone who is even thinking of defying its authority that it has corrupt, money-hungry Western executives in its back pockets. It needs to show the Chinese people that Western commercial interests will collude with them to deny the citizens of the most populous nation on Earth basic freedoms.

Some day, in the not so far off future, I hope these companies and their executives are given their own Nuremberg, because they're justifications seem as pathetic and self-serving as any the Nazi collaborators could come up with.

Re:Google in China (1)

codesmithsf (899553) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563741)

Exactly. If Google was really going to "Do No Evil" then they wouldn't have anything to do with China's government.

Bad news (1)

teslatug (543527) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563448)

Reading this Slashback, it struck me just how bad and dissapointing news stories are lately. It's always the state/federal government/big corporation doing something to screw people over. What a depressing state of afairs.

Re:Bad news (1)

AdamThirteenth (857966) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563672)

I was thinking the same thing. Seems like everytime I fire up /. it's someone violating someone else rights or otherwise giving them the shaft. It's not that I'm not glad its getting reported because, as an American, lately it turns out it's been me getting the shaft.

in light of the Google story (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563477)

The current Slashdot footer quote seems very appropriate:

You may be sure that when a man begins to call himself a "realist," he is preparing to do something he is secretly ashamed of doing. -- Sydney Harris

bush and the nsa (1)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563490)

did anyone else catch the incompetant interview with att gen gonsales on npr yesterday ? the AG said FISA authorizes wiretaps in time of war, and the idiot interviewer did not come back with FISA allows warratnless wiretaps in the 1st 14 days after a war is declared...

Gonzales is a funny man (4, Insightful)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563508)

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Tuesday told students at Georgetown University that a wartime president has the lawful authority to eavesdrop on Americans' telephone calls and e-mail messages without court approval.

When asked when the war would started, Gonzales replied "September 11th, 2001". When asked when it would end, he said "Never".

Gonzales, however, is wrong. The war on terror is over! We're now in the "struggle against Islamic extremism" [heritage.org].

Somebody should tell this jackass... (4, Insightful)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563517)

Georgetown University that a wartime president has the lawful authority to eavesdrop on Americans' telephone calls and e-mail messages without court approval."

Somebody needs to tell this jackass that WE'RE NOT F%#KING AT WAR!!! Unless I missed it when Congress issued a declaration of war, but somehow I doubt I slept through that.

Just because a few morons in DC make up a fancy sounding name like the "War on Terror" or "War on Drugs" does not mean that we are magically at war.

What a freaking asshat.

Pixar: The Early Days (2, Interesting)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563518)

Having been at Disney during the CAPS days, I can tell you that the article gets a lot of details wrong (e.g. animators didn't paint cels and they weren't painted automatically) but at a higher level it's still an interesting story.

So, Google cowers to China, while resisting US? (4, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563539)

They are fighting tooth-and-nail against a US government's request for rather innocent piece of statistics -- a million of randomly selected queries over the course of one random week in 2005 -- something no other search engine found in any way objectionable.

And yet they agree to China's much more intrusive demands.

No, I don't think they are "doing evil" with any of it. But heros they are not either.

Re:So, Google cowers to China, while resisting US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563635)

Theres a simple reason for that.

If the Chinese dislike google, they'll block it. If the Americans decide they dislike google, they might slap down a fine. America can't afford to remove access to google because of the effect it'd have on the economy, not to mention the unemployment it'd cause. Oh, and the public outrage.

It's like aid packages... if you have an aid package with mangos, oranges, peaches, chocolate and a blanket in, and in one country chocolate is illegal, do you forget that country or remove the chocolate? (Parallels between google and aid are not significant. You get the point.)

Re:So, Google cowers to China, while resisting US? (1)

ClearlyPennsylvania (918245) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563667)

What, you think Google didn't fight China's demands? The difference is that the US has a legal system to process such demands, and has a system of checks and balances. As for the DoJ's demands, it was an inappropriate request for them to make. The DoJ was not saying "hey, we think John Smith committed a crime using your technology, and you have evidence for/against that. We need that evidence." Instead, DoJ said "We're trying to pass a law, and you have some data that would help us make our case. We don't want to do the research ourselves, so we need you to do it for us." Google's is not the DoJ's research assistant. Subpoenas are for gathering evidence about a specific crime by a specific, not for forcing a company to do research for the government.

Surveillance (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563665)

While I don't particularly relish the prospect of eavesdropping without warrants, the fact is that warrants take a gigundous mountain of paperwork to get, and that sometimes they really won't be obtainable fast enough to make a difference. It would be nice to see some sort of intermediate position: a sort of 'temporary warrant' with a fraction of the paperwork, while they wait around for the regular warrant. Maybe you could require them to destroy the recordings if the regular warrant isn't granted, as well... hmm.

Re:Surveillance (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563697)

Or maybe you could throw them in jail for ten years if the individual is shown to have done nothing wrong. Let's make the authorities put it on the line. If they're so damn sure that this kind of infringement on civil liberties is necessary, let them put their freedom on the line. The fact is they won't, because they know damn well they're not operating within the checks and balances. They're not playing fair, and are ultimately gutless, law-breaking cowards.

Re:Surveillance (3, Informative)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563816)

Witless FooAtWFU wrote:

While I don't particularly relish the prospect of eavesdropping without warrants, the fact is that warrants take a gigundous mountain of paperwork to get, and that sometimes they really won't be obtainable fast enough to make a difference.

Your statement would be sensible IF it wasn't for the simple fact that:

a: They have 72 hours to get back with the FISA court to explain an unwarranted wire tap.
b: We just happen to have a nice little thing called the Constitution which states in EXPLICITLY CLEAR LANGUAGE:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Now, what part of that statement ELUDES your understanding? HMmmmmmm???

If idiots like you prevail, we will ALL end up with the government YOU deserve.

RS

Google Problem Is Easy (4, Insightful)

istartedi (132515) | more than 8 years ago | (#14563722)

Tiananmen = "Lock say" (this is actually the westernized way of saying the date, which I found through my un-censored USA Google search).

Other censored phrases can be replaced with more obscure stuff. lakfjdslkdj for democracy, etc. Of course the censors will just clamp down on that. It will be an arms race, just like spam, and just as spam always gets through, so will censored material. Come on, you know you want to enlarge y0\/r d3mocrasee p3nis.

So yeah, the Google execs look like they caved in, but they probably realize this will work as well as... DRM. To the young Chinese hackers: Gentlemen, start your compilers.

Is Google Down? 8:06 PM EST (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563771)

Seems to have been down for a while now... I thought my router was acting up but now....

China and USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14563803)

Trawl the web. Find a page that has information that would be of value to enemies of the USA but is not generally known. Now try to find it in a Google search. Chances are, it's not there - even if pages that link to it are. Either Google's spider is broken (possible), or the information has been filtered out (more likely).

Google China uses the same principles as Google USA - it's just that the Chinese government's definition of dangerous knowledge is wider - much wider.

The harsh truth is - you do business on the government's terms, or not at all.
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