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Why Google in China Makes Sense

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the begin-arguing-in-three-two-one dept.

Google 362

ctd writes "The BBC is carrying an interesting article about the positive outcomes from Google's censorship of its China site." From the article: "Millions of people may now be turning away from Google in disgust, but I've just reinstated them as the default search for my Firefox toolbar, because I think it should be supported for its brave decision. Even if the primary motivation for going into China is that it makes commercial sense for the company - as indeed it must do, since US law is quite harsh on boards that take actions which could damage shareholder value - it also makes political sense. "

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First post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580492)

first post

MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!! (4, Insightful)

grub (11606) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580493)


since US law is quite harsh on boards that take actions which could damage shareholder value - it also makes political sense.

Shareholder's wealth is more important than human rights? I hope the author feels the same way when China is rounding up "bad thinkers" who search for the wrong things from within China. It's just a matter of time... but at least the shareholders will be happy.

Re:MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!! (2, Interesting)

Ark42 (522144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580535)

Censorship is censorship and we're no better: http://www.google.com/search?q=xenu [google.com]

Re:MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!! (1)

JofCoRe (315438) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580569)

Um, AFAIK, google re-instated the xenu.net links shortly after they were pulled. In fact, clicking on your link shows that the first link in the list is in fact, to xenu.net...

Re:MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580626)

Isn't there a difference between government censorship and lawsuits from some nutball religious freaks?

Re:MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!! (3, Funny)

Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580722)

Lawsuits only hurt people because the government, via its court system, can and does take money from some parties (defendants) and give them to others (plaintiffs), and also make orders that if not complied with can result in fines and/or imprisonment (*).

Yeah there is a difference, but government puts the teeth in lawsuits.

(*) The government should rename prison to Physical Rights Management, it is as accurate a term as Digitial Rights Management. After all, people now say pre-owned instead of used, etc.

Re:MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580920)

Yeah there is a difference, but government puts the teeth in lawsuits.

Isn't that kind of silly? I mean, do you really want to live in anarchy where anyone can do anything and your only recourse is violence?

Re:MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!! (3, Interesting)

Secrity (742221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580648)

In the United States shareholder value is legally paramount over any other concern. Corporate officers can be liable for monetary losses if the corporation willfully does something that does not maximize shareholder value.

Re:MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!! (2, Insightful)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580655)

It depends upon which view of business ethics you follow. Some of the models popularized in the 70s and beyond say that a business should be socially responsible. (Some may say this is because of an inate responsibility, others may say that it is due to the fact that being 'socially responsible" is good for shareholders and other stakeholders because it helps the bottom line) The truth is, businesses, especially publicly traded ones, have a fiduciary responsibility to make moeny for shareholders.
I have one question for all the high and mighty people who say that businesses should be "socially responsible" at the expens of shareholders:
How would you feel if your 401K (or other investments) lost half of their value because the companies in your portfolio were being "socially resoponsible?
Sereiously, not to impune anyone, but businesses exist to make $$$. To think otherwise is Hippy wishful thinking.

Re:MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!! (1)

sevenoverzero (740419) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580720)

Actually, there is increasing evidence that socially responsible companies, like Whole Foods and Starbucks, actually do increase "shareholder value" equally or, particularly in the cases of the two I've just mentioned, much better than the market average.

Re:MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!! (1)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580922)

I wouldn't argue with you, but I would say that the two examples that you cite are "niche" companies. They cater to the type of people who see themselves as socially responsible. (I say see themselves as socially responsible, because I frequent the starbucks that I can actually see from my porch, and often times women will giggle with glee about their recycled paper coffee cups and then get in their Escalades)
YEs someone who shops at Whole Foods wouild likely appreciate the social responsibility. But in general, would a Wal mart customer? Would the average Wal Mart customer be willing to pay more for items if the company was socially responsible? To bring the argument full circle, the types of people who hate wal mart are often wealthy people who shop at Whole Foods, and would never ever shop at Wal Mart...

Re:MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580664)

Is the motto "Do No Evil" or "Show Do Diligence"?

Re:MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!! (2, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580710)

Shareholder's wealth is more important than human rights? I hope the author feels the same way when China is rounding up "bad thinkers" who search for the wrong things from within China. It's just a matter of time... but at least the shareholders will be happy.

I don't think the author was condoning this, just pointing out that even if Google wanted to do the right thing, they'd be sued into oblivion by their shareholders. The true evil-doers in American business, in my opinion, are the shareholders. Yes, twerps like you and me who've got a few shares here and there. Because if some company misses earnings targets, suddenly those little twerps initiate a lawsuit.

Unfortunately, this has become a vicious cycle. Companies like Enron cook their books in order to keep the shareholders from seeing their failures -- as a result, shareholders don't trust the corporations and start suing on the slightest basis. This in turn makes the boards of directors grow colder and more profit driven. It continues on and on... And it's not just the corporations themselves who are at fault for it. Greedy shareholders are equally to blame.

Owning stock is like playing the slots. You might lose your shirt. Suck it up.

BS (1)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580836)

The shoe also falls on the other foot. If Google so egregiously violates human rights that their company is damaged, they would be forced to not do so. All we must do is punish those businesses that trample human rights, and companies who are chasing the bottom line would cease doing so, simply because it would not be profitable. The problem with the twerps like you and me is that we do not punish these companies; we continue to buy millions of dollars of sweat-shop produced clothing and shoes, we buy billions of dollars of oil from countries whose governments openly treat women and religious minorities as chattel.

Re:MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!! (4, Insightful)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580793)

I'm sure the Chinese people greatly appreciate your efforts at providing them with freedom and prosperity by attempting to deny them access to Google.

Re:MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!! (1)

thaerin (937575) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580811)

Shareholder's wealth is more important than human rights? I hope the author feels the same way when China is rounding up "bad thinkers" who search for the wrong things from within China.

If you feel so strongly about it, perhaps you should think twice before going shopping at WalMart or any other retail store for that matter. Have you seen the number of "Made in China" stickers on most of today's goods? You can't realistically blame businesses for valuing shareholder wealth over human rights unless you're doing something to buck the trend yourself. By continuing to buy their products, you're basically telling them that you're ok with it so long as you can continue to save a couple bucks at the checkout.

Brave decision? (5, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580501)

There are reasons to justify Google's involvement in China, but nothing would make it a "brave" one.

What they did is to cave in to the Chinese govt.'s pressure and although that has positive aspects, like still being accessible for chinese people, the censorship still exist and that cannot be called as a brave decision.

False analogies = flame bait (4, Insightful)

Potor (658520) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580596)

The article implies that libel laws and laws againt computer-generated child-porn are synonymous with censorship. That's crap, of course. I expect that kind of argument from a high school student, not a paid BBC commentator.

Re:False analogies = flame bait (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580772)

Besides age, what difference is there between high school students and most mass-media commentators?

OK, besides age and our expectations...?

What if Google funded thousands of proxy servers? (1)

inertialmatrix (675777) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580781)

What do you guys think of this idea? I had the idea yesterday, but I wanted to know what some of you think about it.

I really wanted to suggest something in hopes that some decision maker at Google, MSN, or Yahoo may consider it if they have not already. Google and the other search engines have the infrastructure and capability to create, setup, and maintain massive amounts of proxy servers. If they really wanted to make a significant contribution to the goal of providing free and uncensored information to Chinese citizens, they could do it. Simply create proxy servers accessible by those in China that could then relay http traffic anonymously. Shit, throw a couple million at it and make it a freakin huge proxy network that rotates through different IP ranges every couple weeks so that Chinese government agencies can't keep up with them.

That is, if they really wanted to not be evil.

If they wanted to be creative with it, they could take one of their services, Google Talk for example, and provide a feature in the client that would allow one to browse to a site via their proxy servers. One idea would be to place an input field in a panel used to enter in a friends user name that you would like to connect to, but if you inputted a url, it would still relay the request to their proxy servers. Of course that would be in violation of the clients EULA, but then they could just leave the capability their and never get around to "patching" it.

Its just an idea, but I wish that they used their incredibly gifted employees to do something really great.

Re:Brave decision? (4, Insightful)

khendron (225184) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580822)

Of course it is a brave decision. Google has put its "Don't be evil" mantra on the chopping block and has left it up to the public whether or not to let the axe fall. Do you think they don't know this? Do you think they are surprised by the reaction? I don't think so.

I have a lot of relatives who lived in apartheid South Africa. They fell into 2 distinct camps: those who would try to work with the government to influence change and those who would have nothing to do with it. Both camps were significant in the breaking up of apartheid. Google has faced the same decision in China. Should it work with the government, and perhaps get the opportunity in influence change, or should it just walk away? In this case, walking away would do nothing. Some people might be surprised to hear this, but the Internet works just fine without Google. Instead Google has taken the hard choice. They've put their cherished reputation on the line in order to be in the position to influence change.

Maybe, and only time will tell, Google made this decision just to make a buck. But I don't think so.

Re:Brave decision? (-1, Flamebait)

oirtemed (849229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580915)

That is the single most retarded comment I've read all day. Tell me how google censoring search results is going to put them in a position to 'influence change' in the Chinese govt.

Why China Sucks (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580861)

1. The internet there is almost unusably bad. Many overseas sites simply aren't reachable and even the ones that are, are very, very slow. Must be their uber censorship router filtering everything coming into the country.

2. Horrible Mandarin. A properly educated mainland Chinese person speaks beautiful Mandarin, I have to admit. Unfortunately, most Chinese people aren't well educated and they speak horrendous Mandarin.

3. Simplified writing is an abomination. It's as if one day the American government decided that not enough people are literate so they decide to adopt text messaging shortcuts as the national written language "cuz it's EZer 2 Lern."

4. Chinese people have absolutely no concept of waiting in line. It's just one manifestation of the general lack of curtesy there. I've never met a population of people that exhibited such rudeness. It's all part of the lack of education that I mentioned before.

5. Pollution. And I include with this not only the horrible air pollution, but noise pollution as well. The constant honking on the streets slowly drives me insane as I walk around the city. I know this isn't just Chinese, it happens in many other places, but man, they love to honk there. Car horns. Bicycle horns. Police whistles. It's non-stop noise everywhere.

6. If the honking doesn't drive you mad, the cacaphony of people hocking up phlegm will do it. Maybe it's the horrible air quality, but why do Chinese people have so much phlegm???? And what's the deal with the nasty breath???

7. Chinese people love to yell. You'll usually find at least one or two people on every block angrily screaming at someone about something or other.

8. Food generally speaking is horrible there. The hygiene is low-to-non-existent and the culinary skills are seriously lacking as well. I wouldn't be caught dead eating anything from a street vendor in China. You can get food poisoning just by looking at them. Speaking of restaurants, the quality of service in China stinks as well. Due to the cheap labor, the ratio of the waiters to customers is frequently 2-to-1. Yet most Chinese wait staff have no idea how to properly wait a table.

9. Bad architecture and design. Chinese people's concept of good architecture is a building with a faux european renaissance look with a lot of gold trimming, hopefully with a fancy top. Driving around Shanghai, you'll notice that almost every building has some sort of "hat" on top.

10. Too many instances of dirty old men paired with hot young things. It's just disgusting and sad. I know there are sugar daddys all over the world, but it's literally all over the streets there. You can't turn around without seeing an old man with a pretty young girl.

Political / Business practices aside... (2, Insightful)

Enigma_Man (756516) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580502)

Why'd you remove Google as your default search function? And then again why were you swayed by something that is only speculation to put it back, if you feel strongly enough about it to have removed it in the first place?

-Jesse

threshold (1)

dotpavan (829804) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580515)

arent we hitting the threshold of Google-in-China stories? Even Eric, Sergey and Brin might not have discussed so much.. If anyone from China wants to get uncensored results from google, please call me at 444-444-4444 (Intl rates apply, $2.99/min +taxes)

Re:threshold (1)

XXIstCenturyBoy (617054) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580730)

They will prefer being ignorant than calling this number... (its not a racist comment. Its one from a guy who worked at a cell phone CS, taking call from Vancouver.)

Filtering (3, Informative)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580529)

They made a big thing about the filtering, but when I went on google's china site and seached for tianamen square the first result i got was about the masacre and the second was from amnesty's web page... it doesn't look like they are actually filtering anything

Also, they mentioned that google would say when it actually filtered something out, which lets people know they are doing it, witholding rights is like growing mushrooms, they both grow best in the dark

Re:Filtering (3, Interesting)

Rhoon (785258) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580747)

I searched for democracy on google.cn and the first article was from wikipedia. Now I had babelfish translate the word democracy into traditional chinese and you get this interesting little tid-bit back.

According to the local law laws and regulations and the policy, the part searches the result not to demonstrate.

This is funny! (1)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580537)

"It is also significant because the Google page will let people know if their search results are being restricted, something that doesn't happen if the filtering is done by the government."

That's not acceptable. People there know they are being kept in the dark. Simply telling them that they are is adding insult to injury. What a joke! On the flip side, Google and others need to be there and push the boundries. Eventually China will open up. It's just a matter of time because you can't keep a good thing like freedom down.

http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

Re:This is funny! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580600)

People there know they are being kept in the dark. Simply telling them that they are is adding insult to injury.

Actually, if it were adding insult to injury it would be something "Falun Gong not found. Take a bath and get a job, you cult-loving loser."

Re:This is funny! (1)

craigob (944023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580644)

That's not acceptable. People there know they are being kept in the dark. Simply telling them that they are is adding insult to injury.

No. That is a very good thing, people in china should feel insulted that their government is forcing search companies to censor their search results. Maybe they'll actually start thinking of doing something about it.

It's the same reason I don't like income tax withholding in the U.S. If people saw a huge lump sum bill at the end of the year from the IRS and saw how much money the government is costing them, they might actually do something about that too. Being informed is always better.

Taxes and government rules regarding public compan (1)

Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580837)

If people saw a huge lump sum bill at the end of the year from the IRS and saw how much money the government is costing them, they might actually do something about that too.

Read your W-2 form, the amount withheld is right there!

Add what you owe or subtract your refund and you get the amount the government takes (or gives in the case of those with "negative" taxes).

Divide that into your gross salary (also on that nifty W-2) and find out what percentage is taken.

It is sickening. It is really sickening when 25% or more of one's wages are taken and the government demands more.

Back to the topic, our government may have a hand in this. I believe it may be illegal (I don't know if it is criminal/felony, criminal/misdemeanor and/or civil) to harm the shareholder's interests. Google isn't being evil if its just obeying the law. Losing China's business would likely be considered to be a violation.

Re:This is funny! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580715)

You are so wrong. People may have no idea to what extreme the censorship is being taken. This will be an education for the chinese people

Re:This is funny! (1)

zfractal (170078) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580729)

That's not acceptable. People there know they are being kept in the dark.

According to this article [com.com] they don't, as far as some searches are concerned.

Sure... (1)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580546)

From the article: Even in the United States, where the First Amendment protects speech from government interference, service providers impose terms and conditions of use that limit what can be posted online and search engines routinely take content from their indexes if it infringes copyright or is deemed inappropriate.

But Americans are free to change ISPs, and more importantly, Americans are free to read other people's compliants about those ISPs on the internet. Americans are also free to use another search engine. I really can't believe how anyone could sympathize with government sponsored censorship.

Re:Sure... (1)

TheJiveMonkey (717363) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580672)

What is google Supposed to do about government mandates? You people act as if the US google searches are not censored. There is nothing a corporation can do about a government telling them either operate under censorship, or dont operate. It isnt even in the realm of business (unless you're in the US that is) to govern the people. The chinese CHOSE to be socialist, and CHOSE to be repressed, so why is it such a big deal that the largest search engine will bend its values to operate in a country with such a huge subscriber base?

Re:Sure... (1)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580745)

The chinese CHOSE to be socialist, and CHOSE to be repressed

Are you fucking kidding me? The average Chinese person did not choose a totalitarian government! There is a difference between socialism and the Chinese government's policies. Socialism can co-exist with individual rights, and what the Chinese have, more closely resembles Fascism in that respesct.

Re:Sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580866)

Not to mention that the revolution was decades ago. Any Chinese who were born after the revolution - and that's probably a significant proportion of the world's population by now - have had absolutely no choice as to the government they've got.

That's because the Chinese don't have a democratic vote. Kind of like African Americans in Florida.

Re:Sure... (2, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580704)

I really can't believe how anyone could sympathize with government sponsored censorship.

The author clearly felt bad enough about what Google has done to stop using it.

But then he felt bad about not being able to use Google.

So he has concocted a rationalization that allows him to use Google without feeling bad about it and even extended it to the point where he can feel proud of himself for it.

SOP.

KFG

Re:Sure... (1)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580789)

I love that answer! People can rationalize anything, sadly. Here's a relevant quote that I came across just yesterday.

Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience. - Adam Smith (the father of economics)

it's still a good thing... (3, Interesting)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580547)

Even though they are blocking out a lot of porn and anti chinese govt. sites, the Chinese people will get to see all the articles on democracy and many other things that will educate the citizens. Thus the good outweighs the bad by a long shot. In time, the Chinese citizens will demand more freedoms, but this is a big step in the right direction in my opinion.

Re:it's still a good thing... (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580829)

"Chinese people will get to see all the articles on democracy and many other things that will educate the citizens."

No they won't. That's the problem.

They could... (1)

MorderVonAllem (931645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580549)

...just not be there. As with any corporation it's all about money. It's what you do with that money that makes a difference.

Of course, all that money that comes from China goes to an American company which keeps American's working. I suppose you might not care about that, but I sure do. Besides, if everyone is so against China, then stop buying electronics, stop going to walmart...only buy American. Most products are not made in America anymore and most people don't care, they get their cheap crappy stuff.

Google, Google, Google (0, Redundant)

wesw02 (846056) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580579)

Is it me or has this week filled with slashdot articles about google?

not quite sure... (3, Insightful)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580581)

as indeed it must do, since US law is quite harsh on boards that take actions which could damage shareholder value - it also makes political sense I belive google's board is somewhat protected from this, based on their bylaws.

google should block all (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580590)

Example: A search for falun gong on google brings up pro-government propaganda. Dissenting views are blocked.

Google should at least block all sites for a given keyword, not present propaganda only. Have some ethics, tell them "give us a list of keywords to block" .. not "give us a list of sites you want censored". Users who serach for a keyword should get no results and a notice saying "sorry your govt. blocked it etc."

source:
http://googlecensorship.tripod.com/google_censors_ falun_gong_in_china/index.album?i=0&s=1 [tripod.com]

Re:google should block all (1)

Secrity (742221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580768)

"Google should at least block all sites for a given keyword, not present propaganda only."

Perhaps Google's agreement with China requires Google to block only the objectionable sites and requires that Google return the propganda sites. If this is true, I am curious if there would be a side effect of Google returning more pro mainland Chinese / Chinese propganda sites to non-Chinese users.

Brave decision? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580593)

This article is an utter and complete joke, what is so brave about doing what the government says and making millions of dollars in the process, I mean give me a break...

(Puts on cowboy hat) (1)

MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580598)

See, what the BBC doesn't understand is Google's "Evil Alert" system. There's a lot of evil in the world, you know, and since Google has so much money - which as a rule of thumb, you see, has evil attached to it- and all this evil on money, well, it has this way of rubbing off. So Google made an 'evil alert system'...

China's "Evil" rating is currently somewhere around yellow, verging on orange- their growing economy is overall good for their people, but the ways they're growing are a little scary to our point of view. So while censorship, see, some people call censorship bad, well, Google can still do business in China because of the good things the Chinese government is doing.

And that's why wiretapping is okay.

Re:(Puts on cowboy hat) (1)

MSenhanced (549093) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580694)

What's wrong with orange? You think china will turn into red, white, and blue over night? I'd say, give China 6 more years.

Re:(Puts on cowboy hat) (1)

MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580728)

My bet, personally, is on the equivalent of red, white, and black. We shall see, seeing as there's very little to be done about it.

Re:(Puts on cowboy hat) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580814)

Godwin's law in 3... 2... 1...

Millions of people? (4, Insightful)

jvolk (229717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580599)

I think not. Most people (at least Americans) don't care what Google does in China, even if they know anything at all about it. All they care about is the search results and products Google makes FOR THEM.

Not to mention habits are hard to break, so "Googling it" is something that now comes as second nature to many people and isn't likely to change over China.

Copy of a post I made yesterday... (5, Insightful)

pnuema (523776) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580615)

All of you "OH NOES! GOOGLE IS TEH EVIL!!!11!eleventyone" people need to re-evaluate their lives. Do you all consider yourselves evil? No? How many of you are working on systems whose parts were manufactured in China? How many of your clothes and shoes were made there? How many objects can you find within ten feet of you right this second that were made in China? You are doing business in China, by buying their goods, but you are not evil. Why are you applying a double standard to Google?

Re:Copy of a post I made yesterday... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580706)

Dude, it's about censorship, not about doing business with China.

Re:Copy of a post I made yesterday... (1)

planetmn (724378) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580707)

Because I don't walk around with a chip on my shoulder saying my motto is "Do No Evil"

-dave

Re:Copy of a post I made yesterday... (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580721)

How many of you are working on systems whose parts were manufactured in China? How many of your clothes and shoes were made there?

Doing business with Chinese businesses is not the same thing as supporting the government that murdered 77 million of them.

-jcr

Re:Copy of a post I made yesterday... (1)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580771)

Hoo boy. Your comment makes it appear that you have no idea about anything involving China.

Knee? Meet jerk.

Re:Copy of a post I made yesterday... (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580851)

Hoo boy. Your comment makes it appear that you have no idea about anything involving China.

Guess again. I'll match my knowledge of Chinese history against yours any day.

-jcr

Re:Copy of a post I made yesterday... (1)

pnuema (523776) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580807)

Not if those business are part of a COMMUNIST COUNTRY. Doing business with any Chinese business is DOING BUSINESS WITH THE GOVERNMENT.

Re:Copy of a post I made yesterday... (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580878)

Doing business with any Chinese business is DOING BUSINESS WITH THE GOVERNMENT.

No, Not for about twenty years now. There are still many wholly or partially state-owned businesses, but they're not the entire Chinese economy, by any means.

-jcr

Re:Copy of a post I made yesterday... (1, Interesting)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580748)

To my mind, there's a significant difference between buying a pair of Chinese-made shoelaces and offering a search engine that blocks links about Tibet and Taiwan. YMMV.

Re:Copy of a post I made yesterday... (1)

lbrandy (923907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580865)

To my mind, there's a significant difference between buying a pair of Chinese-made shoelaces and offering a search engine that blocks links about Tibet and Taiwan. YMMV.

Is that how you sleep at night? Google is making an economic decision here. They want part of China's economy. They, are, essentially, getting "paid" to do this. Where do you think that money is coming from? If Super-Brand-Shoe-Company of China puts up an ad on google.cn for more workers, then will the relationship be "close enough" to home for you to actually take the stand you demand others to take? Or is it still "different"?

Re:Copy of a post I made yesterday... (1)

pnuema (523776) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580903)

To my mind, there's a significant difference between buying a pair of Chinese-made shoelaces and offering a search engine that blocks links about Tibet and Taiwan. YMMV.

You're right. The shoelaces were probably made by an underage, underpaid worker in sweatshop-like conditions. The fact that you are still willing to buy said shoelaces, knowing the conditions they were manufactured under, means that in order to compete, more Chinese companies have to abuse their workers the same way - which means in order to compete American companies have to buy from the cheaper Chinese companies, which create more incentive to abuse workers further - not to mention costing American manufacturing jobs.

What were talking about again? Oh yes. Blocking search results. Very bad.

Re:Copy of a post I made yesterday... (1)

crimespree (950033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580817)

Because as consumers we have the right/responsibility to tell companies when they are doing things that go against our ethical P.O.V. Just becuase some people don't make all their purchasing decisions based on the ethics, doesn't mean that when they do take a stand it's somehow less valid. I don't think anyone is saying that Google is evil any more than I would say that a person who owns clothes made in sweatshops are evil, but I do call them both ethically and morally irresponsible.

Re:Copy of a post I made yesterday... (3, Insightful)

oirtemed (849229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580883)

Its a bit harder to purchase consumer goods not made in countries like China than it is to make the choice not to do business with the Chinese govt as a billion dollar company.

Lets see: Someone just living: little disposable income with which to fight the balance of the economy. Billion dollar company willfully choosing to participate in government censorship programs.

I think there is a big difference. There is no double standard. Companies are not people no matter how many laws give them people like rights. Comparing a company's actions to people's everyday choices is just ridiculous. If I made a million a year, I'd be able to spend more money to aquire products from better places (voting with my money so to speak.) But you know what? You know who moved the factories there in the first place? Oh my god. I'll give you one guess cause your so smart. That's right: the companies.

Re:Copy of a post I made yesterday... (1)

slashdotnickname (882178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580887)

You are doing business in China, by buying their goods, but you are not evil. Why are you applying a double standard to Google?

By buying Chinese goods, I'm primarily supporting the economic livelyhood of the Chinese people. Only on some small indirect level can you say I'm aiding their opressive government.

Look at the U.S.'s embargo of Cuban goods, all that's done is impoverish the people. The communist Cuban government is still as strong as ever.

Google, on the other hand, is directly implementing PRC's censorship policy NOT FOR ANY BENIFIT OF THE PEOPLE but so that they can do business in China.

Google can do no wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580628)

Here come the Google apologists, there is always a way to justify Google's action no matter how wrong it is. I have no problem with Google censoring stuff in china just don't go around pretending they're doing it for any other reason than financial.

A "brave" decision... (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580630)

...is one that forsakes wealth in favor of principle.

But then, unconditional Google apologists aren't exactly a rare breed.

Censored Google is Good for China .... (5, Insightful)

kwandar (733439) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580638)

Okay, now my initial knee jerk reaction is that Google shouldn't be censoring. But then I read that Google WILL NOTIFY USERS THAT THE DOCUMENT IS CENSORED.

Its one thing where censorship is hidden, but its quite another when millions of Chinese will begin to realize how much information is being hidden from them.

This is a good thing, and certainly not evil.

Re:Censored Google is Good for China .... (1)

utexaspunk (527541) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580868)

Maybe it's just because I can't read Chinese (okay, I don't even have the Chinese character set installed, so I just get a bunch of question marks) but I don't see anything on this page [google.cn] that looks like a "some results have been censored"-type notice. Can any Chinese-reading /.ers verify this?

MOD PARENT UP (1)

HTL2001 (836298) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580874)

big difference between people thinking "it doesnt exist" and "the govt. is blocking it"

good pick up

Idiocy (2, Informative)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580641)

...as indeed it must do, since US law is quite harsh on boards that take actions which could damage shareholder value...

This bit of stupidity is a staple of posters here already -- it's not like you need to link to another continent for it.

US law requires boards to operate in shareholders' interest in a broad sense, i.e. that they're not supposed to pillage the company to enrich themselves. It doesn't mean that they're required to take every short-term opportunity to grab another dollar. (How do you think they make charitable donations or provide sponsorships?)

There is zero possibility that an any legal case could be made against the Google board if they had declined to operate in China under these restrictions.

Tell Us the Real Reason (1)

Black-Man (198831) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580659)

Like how Google is fighting the "world's most dangerous terrorist" George Bush and the Justice Dept for access to search records.

Yeah... real noble. Cave to the communists - stand-up to the Justice Dept. Sheesh...

Turning from Google to... who? (4, Insightful)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580662)

Millions of people may now be turning away from Google in disgust....

Who are they turning to? Haven't ALL the major search engines "caved in" (e.g. MSN [com.com], Yahoo [com.com]) to the Chinese Government's pressures? The open source answer should be something like: "You don't like it? Build your own search engine, then!"

BBC for ya (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580668)

Well the BBC has a marxist bias, so supporting the Chinese Government is par for the course.

Brave or Obvious or Non-Story? (1)

WoTG (610710) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580675)

I don't see why this has become such a publicized event. MSN and Yahoo have been in China already -- with the same censorship rules. In fact, to enforce the giant firewall, many other North American firms provide the required technology, including Nortel.

Don't forget about the thousands of companies that use factories in China to produce, what seems like 90% of the everything in the average house. Don't kid yourselves, the people working in factories making goods for HP, Apple, Nike, Nokia, et al. don't have the same freedoms of speech or demonstration that we do in North America.

Outside of a distinct minority of North American consumers, we've clearly decided that it's best to do business with China and hope that our living standards and freedoms and other policies will eventually get integrated into future Chinese policy.

When is the last time you didn't buy Chinese? (1)

phoenix.bam! (642635) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580686)

Every person badmouthing Google is a hypocrit. Every single one of you support the Chinese government. Your keyboard, your monitor, your desk. That chair, your clothes, your TV, all those toys you bought for your nephew. Every time you buy an item that has a Made in China label is you are supporting the oppression of the people. Google is one upping all of us.

Not only are they providing the Chinese people will a powerful tool for finding most of the worlds information but they are also letting the Chinese people know what is being blocked. Get off your high horse and realize while google is doing this primarily to get a foothold in a huge market, there is also a very real benefit to the people of China.

China is only going to become more free and google wants to be there for it. You lazy hypocrits just want cheap, crappy products that some foreigner who will be making more than you in 20 years.

Re:When is the last time you didn't buy Chinese? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580791)

Every time you buy an item that has a Made in China label is you are supporting the oppression of the people.

Nonsense. A country and its government are not the same thing, and trading with Chinese people has nothing to do with supporting the government that opresses them.

-jcr

Leaving the door ajar... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580705)

I think that Google is leaving the door ajar for political dissenters this way. Google will say HOW and WHERE they're censored, in other words: "I didn't censor OTHER ways of communication, wink wink, nudge nudge".

Double speech and steganography cannot be censored by Google, so the dissenters will have the option to communicate thru this. After all, why should google have to censor "Our trip to the lake" photo album? :)

spin (2, Insightful)

slashdotnickname (882178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580711)

This story has been spinned in so many directions that I'm getting dizzy.

But, whatever colored glasses you choose to wear, a few facts remain undisputable...

1) Chinese government actively censors certain information from its people
2) Google wants to do business in China
3) At China's demand, Google censors certain information from it's google.cn search replies
4) Once, on Google's FAQ page, a few statements existed regarding the company's belief in a democratic and uncensored distribution of information... those statements have been removed recently.

Whether someone is wrong or right in all this depends (partly) on how you rate the importance/goodness of some of these facts in relation to each other.

Re:spin (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580758)

1) Chinese government actively censors certain information from its people

Of course it does. If the Chinese people knew that the communists have killed more of them than the Japanese, they'd be toppled in a week.

-jcr

naive article (1)

snitmo (901312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580716)

I don't have a problem with Google's action. A company seeking business opportunities and spinning its action so that it looks positive and politically correct. Nothing new about that.

However, I have a problem with a statement like this.

But if we in the West, with our liberal political culture and our attempts to build open societies, do not engage with China then we lose the opportunity to influence them and convince them of the benefits that this brings. If the Chinese government fears instability then we should offer help and advice and support, not closed borders and locked doors.

China boasts 111 million Internet users http://today.reuters.com/news/newsarticle.aspx?typ e=internetNews&storyid=2006-01-18T030843Z_01_SHA66 703_RTRUKOC_0_US-CHINA-INTERNET.xml [reuters.com] and 393 cell phone users http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/200 6/1/24/business/13197510&sec=business [thestar.com.my]. That's a lot of information flowing around. Chinese know what Western cultures bring, good and bad, probably more than Western people do. To think China as a big dark corner of the world which The West must shine its democratic and liberal lights on, is quite romantic, but is naive.

chinese "Censorship" overblown (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580732)

Honestly the chinese censorship is totally overrated by Americans.

Everyone in China knows there is censorship, everyone in China knows about the rest of the world. It's more of an annoyance than anything.

Finding "banned" information in China is like trying to get "warez" in the united states. It's not legal and every so often the sites get shutdown but it's not like it's a big secret or people with a little effort can't find it.

Finding some "banned" info in china is about as hard as an American finding photoshop on the internet. Basically a pain in the ass with a slight chance of legal repurcussion but really not much a big deal.

Would it be nice if the Chinese government would just throw in the towel and give up the half-assed attempt to censor the internet? Hell ya! Waste of everyone's time and money, but really it's not as big a deal as some of these Chinaphobes make it out to be...

Google as "trojan horse" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580746)


This gives Google some interesting opportunities.

First, Google gets to remind the Chinese millions of times per day that their government is censoring them.

Second, Google is a symbol of Western ideas and freedoms -- again, visible millions of times per day.

Third, this allows China to eventually become addicted to Google's services. In the long term, Google could end up in the driver's seat of China's information flow.

Fourth, Google can now play the role of "secretly subversive insider". No filter can be perfect. Google will always claim they're doing "the best filtering job technically possible", but we'll always wonder if they're REALLY committed to it -- just like we always wondered about the original Napster's commitment to excellence in filtering. If 99% of the Google workforce secretly hopes that the Chinese filters will be ineffective, what do you think is going to happen?

When Microsoft did the same they were EVIL! (1)

MSFanBoi2 (930319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580766)

What a bunch of hypocracy.

When Microsoft did the same, they were EVIL.

Chinese government to demand search records (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580767)

The next logical step is this (based on the US government request): the Chinese government would demand Google China to hand over all the search records, for keywords they are interested in.

Since Google operates in China probably as a business entity registered in China, the Chinese government could try to legally force that.

It's an ancient dilemma: can you do business with the devil, without becoming evil.

Look up the history books: the answer is hardly ever.
   

ahhh (2, Funny)

revery (456516) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580779)

Ah, but how do we know this is in fact the actual text of the article and not some Chinese-Google modified version of the story being served from a top secret server farm in Beijing. Hmmm?!?! Who is this Bill Thompson? We don't know. I've never met him. Maybe he should come to my house and prove he's a loyal American... or Britain... or Englishman... He might be a robot or Chinese, or worse... a Chinese World of Warcraft robot gold farmer. Well he won't fool me!!

I think I'll be spending the rest of the century in my tin-foil lined saferoom playing WOW and asking people to type several pages of flawless grammar before they join my group.

Take that China. Take that Sergey Brin. Take that robots.

I've forgotten my point.

Yet another google in china story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580796)

Mod parent -1 Redundant.

This is a good thing, if you think about it. (3, Insightful)

mmell (832646) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580797)

Okay, so the results on google.cn are limited, but . . .

It's generally agreed that free information flow and communication are two of the best tools a population can have to use against a totalitarian or dictatorial government. Okay, so google.cn is limiting the flow of information, but that flow is still greater than it would be if google.cn didn't exist.

Think of it this way - the first couple of cracks in a dam don't look too threatening when they are small and just forming. Think of google's presence in China as the harbinger of greater information flow to come. Intelligent and quick-witted people will use this limited tool to find ways to ultimately have a tool which is less limited, less restricted.

I'm not saying that (GOOGLE.CN)==(FREEDOM FOR CHINA), only that IMHO this is a step in the right direction. If that step is hobbled, it is nonetheless progress toward a desirable end. Also, let's not upbraid Google too harshly for functioning to the best of their abilities despite obstacles imposed by a sovereign state in which they wish to do business; rather we should applaud their effort to expand their business model and all that goes with it into an undeniably hostile environment. That their motives are not so lofty as the furtherance of human rights and personal freedom is irrelevant: that their actions might lead to the furtherance of human rights and personal freedom seems more important to me here.

I said this the last time this discussion came up- (1)

utexaspunk (527541) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580801)

The best thing is for Google to comply with the censorship, get everyone used to using it (like the rest of the world), then stop complying. The government would be forced to either give up on censorship or tell all their citizens that the Google which they have all grown accustomed to (which they surely will) is no longer allowed. What better way to make the Chinese people painfully aware of what their government is doing? I think if the US government were to suddenly decide to censor Google it would have a lot of seriously, seriously pissed off people to answer to. Getting and then losing Google could be a catalyst for change over there...

Re:I said this the last time this discussion came (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580892)

"Getting and then losing Google could be a catalyst for change over there..."

You do realize we're talking about a single search engine company, right?

Re:I said this the last time this discussion came (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580925)

The best thing is for Google to comply with the censorship, get everyone used to using it (like the rest of the world), then stop complying.

If that turns out to be their plan, then I will of course forgive them for what they're doing. From where I sit today however, it sure looks to me like they're an accessory to genocide.

-jcr

Nobody Is turning from Google (1)

TheDoctorWho (858166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580810)

How can they possibly say that? Stopped reading after that.

The sky is falling the sky is falling....

The Business Judgment Rule protects a board (5, Interesting)

EaglesNest (524150) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580827)

The stub on theis article is WRONG. The "Business Judgment Rule" protects any decision that a corporation's board makes, no matter how silly it seems. In this case, Google's hypothetical decision to stay out of China would be protected. Nothing in U.S. law is forcing Google into China.

The "Business Judgment Rule" protects any decision that a corporation's board makes as long as they [1] deliberate with knowledge about the decision (i.e., they must be informed); and [2] don't have any conflicts of interest (i.e., sign a contract with the Board's president's son-in-law).

[Furthermore, the Board didn't necessary approve or disapprove of this decision. It might have just been management. They can pretty much do anything they want. When "concerned shareholders" such their own corporation, they usually sue the Board rather than only management.]

Think about the other choice (2, Insightful)

rabbot (740825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580839)

I don't see why anyone would be upset with Google for censoring results for China. If they didn't, then the Chinese government would probably block Google entirely. So you people would rather the Chinese not be able to use google at all? Use your heads. Google did the right thing.

Was there such outrage (1)

TheDoctorWho (858166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580899)

For Tiannamen Square
Lost my Baby there
my yellow rose
her blood stained clothes

Something tells me, no.
So few here are even qualifed to speak on this subject, pathetic.
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