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Chinese Professor Sues Google, Yahoo Over Search Exclusion

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the temper-tantrum dept.

Yahoo! 147

Techdirt points out that while there have been many lawsuits over someone's Google-rank, a Chinese professor is suing Google and Yahoo for removing all mention of him in China. "Google and Yahoo, of course, have agreed to play by local rules in China, upsetting many. Legally, it would seem like this suit has little chance of success — but I doubt that he cares about the legal result. What this actually does is to call attention to his plight — and on that front, it's clearly a successful strategy."

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147 comments

Communist China != Soviet Russia (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22351506)

Because as we all know...

Drum roll...

Wait for it...

In Soviet Russia, search engine sues YOU!

Thank you everybody.

Uh, what? (0, Offtopic)

Artuir (1226648) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352298)

+1 informative? Are the moderators getting as lazy as the editors now? Zonk's gonna have to kick it up a notch to stay in the lead.

Re:Uh, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22352420)

with the new moderating system it's really easy to mod something informative instead of funny by mistake. i'm guessing that's what happened here. if the mod responsible has any dignity then he (or maybe she, i suppose it's possible) should comment on this thread.

Just write a check (1)

erick99 (743982) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351514)

Maybe Google should buy China (seeing how MS is buy Yahoo). -erick http://www.yourfavoritegadgets.com/ [yourfavoritegadgets.com]

Re:Just write a check (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352030)

Right... and then I suppose Google can ship them back over here on boats right?... and make them pick results out of their field of cached web pages right?...

Blogvertisement. (5, Informative)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351518)

The full article is here [timesonline.co.uk]. Unless you just want to hook this guy up with ad revenue instead of getting the full story, of course.

Gee.. (2, Interesting)

deepershade (994429) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351534)

Part of me is angered by this. A search engines job is to list sites for search. Nothing more. It's not their job to decide what sites I shouldn't have access to, that's mine (and possibly some major ISP's heh). Another part realises that if they don't do what China says, the firewall blocks access to their search engine and harms millions of Chinese citizens. When you've got two demons on either side of you, and no other way to go, how can you not do evil?

Re:Gee.. (4, Insightful)

mrxak (727974) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351582)

A search engine's job is to make profit for their shareholders. Nothing more. It's their job to get as large a market share as possible, so that's why they do what they need to do to keep China from blocking their site. We don't have to like it, but don't confuse what Google's actual responsibility is.

Re:Gee.. (1)

Bloodoflethe (1058166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351860)

And this is why they should never have gone public. I don't have anything against them, but they are stupid panicky herd animals, as a whole, who don't care where the revenue comes from.

Incorrect (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351898)

A search engines job is to search for things.

Google does ahve a responsibility, as does everybody. What they are doing is wrong, and to think the Chinese government could actually block them is laughable.

You no, they could remove their servers from china and distribute a tool that helps people get around blocks.

Re:Incorrect (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352076)

Uh, before Google agreed with the horrible Chinese policy they WERE blocked by the great firewall. Not consistently mind you, but enough that Chinese users flocked to the government run search engine instead. As far as I know, Google still has a minority share in China thanks to those shenanigans.

Re:Incorrect (0, Redundant)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22354424)

So they caved to get in.

Still would ahve been better to distribute tools to get around it. Of course, if the corporations would start to apply real pressure for change to countries that want their business, that would help as well.

Re:Incorrect (4, Interesting)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352432)

A couple years ago, my father used a phrase that struck me, the phrase "good corporate citizen". It's the idea that beyond just turning a profit, a corporation has the obligation to make sure it's conduct has a positive influence on it's community, just like you have an obligation to make sure that you're a good citizen. It struck me as being a sort of noble idea (my father is a small business owner, and I'd like to think that's what he's trying to be) and one that seems quaint and outdated in today's world where the bottom line is the last word.

American society is so self-centered: we spend so much effort on looking out for ourselves, both at the level of the individual and at the level of the corporation, and not enough on making sure that we're looking out for our friends, family, neighbors, and country. Google's not perfect, and I'm not sure I like their approach to dealing with China, but I think that their "don't be evil" philosophy is a refreshing change from the downright predatory practices of many companies. At least they're making an effort.

Re:Gee.. (5, Insightful)

roggg (1184871) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351908)

A search engine's job is to make profit for their shareholders. Nothing more. It's their job to get as large a market share as possible, so that's why they do what they need to do to keep China from blocking their site. We don't have to like it, but don't confuse what Google's actual responsibility is.
Search engines don't have shareholders...companies do. A search engine's job is to search. A company's job is to make profit for their shareholders. Don't confuse the two. The search service that google provides to users enables them to derive ad revenue and thus profits for shareholders. Without the search service and other services they provide to users, they are nothing.

Re:Gee.. (1)

Moderatbastard (808662) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353522)

Search engines don't have shareholders...companies do.
If there's a point in there (apart from pedantically literal nitpicking) would you kindly repost it with the relevant portion marked in some way, because I for one missed it.

kthxbye.

Re:Gee.. (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351910)

No your wrong, you took it out of context...

"A search engines job"

Its the company who developes/maintains the search engine who's job is to make a profit, a search engine simply lists links to all relavant web pages it finds to the search query.

Although that developer does intrinsicly have the right to edit the method that the search engine uses to find results, a search engine is incapable of making a profit. :P although possibly a prophet...

Im not quite as pissed as this guy, but some of you dont realize that this isnt just a Chinese problem, or "something thats happening in another country, so what whers the TV remote?"... Google.com and Google.ca also limit the search results now thanx to DMCA among other things, which I dunno about you, but that angers me a lot, because it doesnt just warn you about "Illegal Content" it just removes all reference to the site that contaisn the content, and says "We removed stuff" never saying what they removed.

And who knows what else they remove that they dont notify you about.

Re:Gee.. (2, Insightful)

Nemilar (173603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352010)

I agree and disagree, but largely on semantics.

A search engine's job is to provide you with the best results possible for your query. By removing results, the search engine is failing to perform its function to the best of its ability.

A cooperation's job is to earn as much money as possible for its shareholders. In this particular case, we have a company with an obligation to its shareholders to produce as much profit as possible. China is a huge market - Google can't not participate in it, that would be neglecting its responsibility to its shareholders. But since Google is in the search business, and China has certain rules about information exchange, Google has no choice but to cripple its product in order to maximize profits.

This is yet another example of government regulation lowering the value of a product. But this time, it's in China, and we can all look at how lucky we have it that all Google has to worry about in the US is the DMCA, instead of outright censorship of political and religious decent.

Re:Gee.. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352616)

That would have been way more insightful had you emphasized corporation.

A cooperation may not even have shareholders.

Re:Gee.. (1)

Nemilar (173603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353734)

Haha, nice catch... as I was typing that, I spelled it wrong at first, went back, added an "o" and said to myself, "yeah, sure, that looks like a word, let's go with it." Guess the preview button is there for a reason. (Not hitting it in 3, 2, 1...)

Re:Gee.. (1)

ladoga (931420) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353408)

Google has no choice but to cripple its product in order to maximize profits.
...And they help oppressive government to break human rights. Where is the line drawn, I might ask? As long as it's profitable, is it lawful for US based corporation to help in say torturing and murdering human beings?

There is always a choice.

Re:Gee.. (4, Insightful)

qortra (591818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352024)

But Google, as a company, has made promises to its shareholders and patrons. Don't you think that many people who own shares of Google do so under the assumption that they are not evil? You assume that the primary responsibility of a company to its shareholder is financial, and it is 99.9% of the time, but it is possible for a large group of shareholders to unite and declare other simultaneous objectives for the company.

Re:Gee.. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352504)

The last time I checked, Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin and Larry Page owned more than 50% of voting shares in Google, making it so that they always constitute the largest group of shareholders that might have some objective or another, so it doesn't really matter what anybody else thinks, in terms of responsibility to shareholders.

Re:Gee.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22352510)

But Google, as a company, has made promises to its shareholders and patrons. Don't you think that many people who own shares of Google do so under the assumption that they are not evil?

In fact, as an investor in a publicly traded company, you are supposed to be able to rely on the public statements of the company. So, having declared that Google's policy is "Don't be evil", if in fact they are acting that way, one of the army of class-action securities lawyers will sue them for violating SEC rules.

Would be a funny lawsuit though - I don't think "evil" has a legal definition!

Re:Gee.. (1)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353182)

I suppose it's possible, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for it to happen. The primary responsibility of a company to its shareholders is financial, pure and simple (and legally defined).

If Google or Yahoo had incorporated as non-profits, I might have been surprised. As is, picture me yawning.

Mods, please pay attention. (3, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352220)

Moderating someone's comment as "flamebait" when the person is merely expressing an opinion that you disagree with is just wrong. There is nothing factually inaccurate about the parent post, and if it gets your panties in a wad that's just too darn bad. For people who claim to vehemently oppose censorship, especially considering the article we're discussing, you're all pretty eager to keep some peoples' comments off the radar.

Re:Gee.. (1)

readin (838620) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352952)

The primary purpose of anything that is owned is to serve the owners. A corporation is owned by shareholders making its purpose to serve the owners. Making money for them is usually the purpose, but not always and not only. Perhaps some owners of Google don't want their company to make money for them if it means helping to prop up a corrupt regime. Google would serve those owners better by finding other ways to make money. There is more to life than money. Even shareholders know that.

Re:Gee.. (5, Insightful)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351668)

If China blocks your engine, the Chinese government is the one doing the evil. You aren't.

When you filter content to keep secret anything a corrupt government doesn't want their citizens to see, in order to pacify the government and make money from the countries business, you are doing evil.

It's real simple.

Re:Gee.. (4, Insightful)

mrxak (727974) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351710)

Sometimes a little truth is better than no truth. You think a state-run search engine would be better for China than a filtered independent one?

Re:Gee.. (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352020)

I don't see how an independent one is any better if it is doing the filtering the Chinese government wants.

With either one, the only hope of the Chinese citizen truth is to find an open proxy to connect to a REAL search engine.

Re:Gee.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22352724)

Have you ever considered the possibility of "better" for reasons other than political ones?

In United States, we can probably argue that Google and other search engines, say MSN search, are equally unfiltered by government. Why do many people prefer Google then?

Filtered Google in China is better than a government-owned search engine because it's better at searching the Internet. It finds what people want. And just to exaggerate it a bit using your example -- how do you think an ordinary Chinese citizen would find the information about open proxy on Internet?

Re:Gee.. (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352782)

It's like saying that helping torture a man is better than not doing so, because when you're the torturer, you can go easier on the victim than the other, "evil" guy would have done.

Re:Gee.. (2, Insightful)

readin (838620) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353038)

Sometimes a little truth is better than no truth. You think a state-run search engine would be better for China than a filtered independent one?

If Baidu were the only search engine permitted, then the Chinese people would wonder why and would know not to trust the results. But Google is the same search engine people in the free countries use. Why shouldn't they trust it? After some use even the disclaimer starts to wear thin.

A little information is better than no information when that little bit of information serves to undermine the lies people are hearing, not when that little information is selected to reinforce the lies.

Re:Gee.. (1)

jesdynf (42915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353384)

Given that the state is telling the "independent" search engine how to run, I see no distinction between the two terms you compare.

Re:Gee.. (1)

ZombieRoboNinja (905329) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353390)

Yes, I do think that. Because it's well-known that self-censorship tends to be more thorough than external censorship.

Right now, the Chinese government can keep their restrictions very vague, and companies like Google will be forced to either filter anything that MIGHT piss off the Chinese government or else risk getting in big legal trouble.

If it was the actual government doing the filtering, it would be known exactly what the government didn't want people to know (not what Google thought the government didn't want people to know). They'd be under scrutiny for each term they blacklisted. And most importantly, internet users would be staring their oppression in the face, rather than having it hidden behind a shiny Google facade.

Re:Gee.. (1)

ladoga (931420) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353704)

Sometimes a little truth is better than no truth. You think a state-run search engine would be better for China than a filtered independent one?
I can't believe such comments are modded Insightful.

That's a really slippery slope to go. For Chinese people it must look (rightly so) that Google and Yahoo are accepting censorship practices of their goverment. It makes censorship normal, something to expect, instead of something one should oppose. If there was no one bandwagoning their goverment in this censorship issue, pressure would be much harder on their goverment to stop it. Actually it goes down to individual level. As long as there is people taking part in this kind of shit "for greater good" or "lesser evil" it will go on and on as these people are the opressors.

PS. I'd guess that Chinese public is just as much limited in seeing the truth with filtered Google or local search engine. But that's beside the point.

Re:Gee.. (1)

ljgshkg (1223086) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352006)

Don't be purist. What's better is better. If Google doesn't do the filtering, people in China will have one less choice, and the communists have one less engine to monitor.

Re:Gee.. (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352120)

The topic is about Yahoo, but anyhow...

Choice between a filtered search engine and a filtered search engine isn't a real choice about where to get truthful information. My concern isn't for the amount of workload added to the Chinese government. It's about there being a real search engine out there for them to get good information at if they can find a proxy or some hole through the firewall. If Yahoo (and Google) are willing to filter for the Chinese government to make money out of their market, what exactly is their line, and how do you know they aren't willing to (or aren't already) doing it for the Mideast, countries in the EU, or in the good 'ol USA if the Bush (or other fascist) administration decide they want to do it as well?

Sorry to be a purist about ethics, but that's just the way I roll.

Thanks Pontus (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352082)

If China blocks your engine, the Chinese government is the one doing the evil. You aren't. When you filter content to keep secret anything a corrupt government doesn't want their citizens to see, in order to pacify the government and make money from the countries business, you are doing evil. It's real simple.

It's just that subtle distinction that would make Pontus Pilate proud. Screw what's actually best for the people, as long as *you* didn't do anything directly wrong, you can sleep at night.

The world's nowhere near as simple as you'd like it to be.

Re:Thanks Pontus (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352268)

Let me get this straight, you think it's just a subtle distinction between these two?

One way they are posting all the content for the world to see, the other they are blocking content from many so that a repressive government can keep their people ignorant.

And you compare this to the washing of hands of Pilate? Are you personally sending information about the Tiananmen square massacre to every citizen in China? If not, you are just as 'guilty' of hiding information from them as Yahoo would be for posting content to the world while, knowing it might get blocked by the Chinese government's firewall.

Re:Thanks Pontus (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352572)

One way they are posting all the content for the world to see, the other they are blocking content from many so that a repressive government can keep their people ignorant.

Yeah, except that's wrong. That first way would have gotten Google completely blocked in China, which you should recall unless you've been living in a cave. So the balance is actually "one way the Chinese people get 0% of Google, the other way the Chinese people get 99% of Google." See how that's not as simple as you want it to be anymore?

And you compare this to the washing of hands of Pilate?

You're quick.

Are you personally sending information about the Tiananmen square massacre to every citizen in China?

I have, in fact, personally shared information about the Tiananmen massacre with a Chinese citizen who was unaware of its existence. Have you? Next question.

If not, you are just as 'guilty' of hiding information from them as Yahoo would be for posting content to the world while, knowing it might get blocked by the Chinese government's firewall.

That doesn't even make sense as an analogy, let alone make sense as a reasonable comparison. Here's two problems with it: 1) They didn't block the information to the entire world, just China, so no one else is worse for lacking the information. 2) under either scenario, Chinese people aren't finding information about the massacre. At least now they get access to some other information. Under your 'plan', you'd take the moral high ground, wash your hands just like Pontus Pilate, and in the end the Chinese people get no access to any information at all.

The question is which has more value - information about topics other than the Tiananmen square massacre, or your moral high horse? As a matter of net benefit, some Google is better than no Google, and from the Chinese people's perspective I'd have to imagine that benefit far outweighs your principles.

This particular topic is a perfect kool-aid test that separates pragmatists from naive idealists.

Re:Gee.. (1)

deepershade (994429) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352106)

But my point was that no everything negative to about the Chinese government is filtered, they can't hit it all, so by towing the line to an extent, they're allowing millions of citizens access to information which may shed some light on the actions of their own government. If they're Firewalled, then those citizens see nothing. I personally don't like the filtering, I was merely trying to speak from a Devil's Advocate position.

What if they weren't doing it to make money? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352574)

When you filter content to keep secret anything a corrupt government doesn't want their citizens to see, in order to pacify the government and make money from the countries business, you are doing evil.
What if money wasn't the motive?

What if Google plowed all its China-related earnings into programs that promoted freedom for Chinese people?

What if they secretly funneled the funds to underground groups in China?

What if they operated in a zero-profit mode, with the goal of "getting away with as much as the Tiger will let us" in terms of providing useful even subversive information to the Chinese people while appearing to be playing by the rules?

Now, the fact of the matter is this probably isn't the case. But what if it was?

I agree to this (1)

rockabilly (468561) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353130)

...But I also agree to whomever said it before me (if someone actually did) that it is not the company's fault for the filtering - its the fault of the government (law). This guy is suing the wrong parties. He should be suing the party who enacted the law.

I feel for Google and Yahoo in this instance. Why should they spend thousands of dollars in legal fees when the actions are out of their control?

Re:Gee.. (2, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351690)

Their job is to do whatever the hell they want to do. If enough people don't like it, they'll go away, and a company will die. But don't think for a second that you can demand any company to do what you think "their job" is.

Re:Gee.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22352188)

But don't think for a second that you can demand any company to do what you think "their job" is.

If I am a paying customer, it is absolutely my right to demand that the company does what I think "their job" is. As long as I am handing it money, it is the company's job to cater to me. If it ceases doing so, the consequence may be that I cease doing business with it. This isn't any different from my boss telling me to do something, and potentially halt my paychecks if I decide not to comply.

Similarly, if I am a shareholder, I own part of the company, and have every right to tell them what they should do. Depending on the number of shares I have, I may have even more power than I would as a customer.

That's beside the point, though, for two main reasons:

  • With Google (and any search engine), we are not customers, so my arguments don't apply here. I only mentioned them because you seem to imply that no one ever has the right to boss a corporation around, which is patently false.
  • The purpose behind the lawsuit, as the article implies, is probably to raise awareness. The guy is a revolutionary within China that is pushing for a more democratic government. He could use all the publicity he can get. This lawsuit works beautifully to get his name recognized, get his cause recognized, and get China's censorship tactics recognized. In this goal, the lawsuit works beautifully.

Re:Gee.. (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351942)

how can you not do evil?

Well for starters, Google could very publicly protract this case for as long as possible. They could do lip service to the PRC while making sure that Guo Quan gets as much airtime and pundit discussion as possible. Google is in a tight spot in China, as are most of the Chinese. Simply by being there to be sued they have done more to illuminate this man's plight then they could have every done if they did no business with the PRC at all. Now they just have to take this opportunity and use it to do some good.

Re:Gee.. (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353314)

When you've got two demons on either side of you, and no other way to go, how can you not do evil?
It is unavoidable in the case of Google or any other corporation. That is why it makes no sense, at least in my estimation, for people to form attachments to corporations or believe them when they talk about their "corporate conscience" or how they promise that they will not do evil things. Here is an important tidbit for everyone who is surprised by the actions taken by Google, or indeed any other corporation. Corporations exist to maximize profit for their owners period...that is it and that is all. They will very rarely come out and just say this of course, but it remains true none the less. Once you understand why corporations exist and view their actions through that prism then what they do usually, although not always, makes sense. There are limits of course, that is why we have and should have the government, to enforce the rules of the game, but we should not fault the corporations for intelligent play within the rules, however underhanded and sneaky we believe that play to be. If you don't like this then work to change the rules (i.e. the laws), but always remember that in other countries it is their rules not yours, it is their country after all. The job of Google is whatever they decide their job is and their customers can decide to either use their services or not, that is what it means to have a free market.

The summary is basically the article...it's so.. (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351592)

short.

To quote Nelson: "Ha ha!"

You can't win Google and Yahoo! when you play by evil rules. China is an evil communist regime that suppresses their people and ideas. Kudos for trying to do business with them and it may help the Chinese people, but when you cater to the evil, you will get bit in the ass.

Re:The summary is basically the article...it's so. (4, Interesting)

mrxak (727974) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351660)

Doing business with an oppressive regime helps bring up the standard of living for the people under it, eventually as the middle class grows it forces reform. Once there's food in your belly and a roof over your head, you start to pay more attention to what else is going on in your life. While Google is being a party to the state-censorship in China, remember that it's really the Chinese government at fault, and overall Google will have done more good than harm.

Re:The summary is basically the article...it's so. (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352416)

And when the people are fat and happy and distracted they forget about their civil liberties and all the bad things the government has done and focus on all the goodies and money they keep shoving into their wallet.

You make a good point, but doing business with a dictatorship alone does not guarantee the toppling of said dictator. The businesses should do business, but that business should come with strings attached by the home government. The US needs to reign in these companies from going over there and blindly following China's rules, and put pressure on China to reform. Giving them the carrot without tying it to the stick simply means you are out one carrot and doesn't guarantee you end up going anywhere on your mule.

Re:The summary is basically the article...it's so. (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353378)

You make a good point, but doing business with a dictatorship alone does not guarantee the toppling of said dictator.
Precisely, it was Milton Friedman [wikipedia.org] who said in his book Capitalism and Freedom [wikipedia.org] that, "Capitalism and free markets are necessary, although not sufficient conditions for political freedom."

you can rationalize anything i suppose (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352434)

"Doing business with apartheid south africa helps bring up the standard of living for the black people under it, eventually as the black middle class grows it forces reform. Once there's food in your belly and a roof over your head, you start to pay more attention to what else is going on in your life. While (insert name of corporation that didn't pull out of south africa in the 1980s here) is being a party to the state-sponsored racism in South Africa, remember that it's really the South African government at fault, and overall (Coca Cola/ Pepsi/ etc.) will have done more good than harm."

this quote is of course pure unadulterated bullshit

the idea of having a sense of morality or a human conscience is to act on it, not explain it away

when you see someone get raped, you report the rape. if you don't report it, you have no claim on having a sense of moralit yor a human conscience. if you say nothing because you will wait for the woman to resist by herself, your bullshit rationalization is basically just an attempt by you to neutralize your human conscience, for whatever stupid or evil motivation you have

so congratulations, based on your words above, you have no human conscience

read up on apartheid and divestment. international economic sanctions HELPED BRING DOWN APARTHEID

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apartheid#Western_influence [wikipedia.org]

of course china is plugged into the international economy far more than south africa ever was. pulling out of china will be extremely painful for any economy. i didn't say it would be easy. but not divesting of china in one way or anyother because of china's horrible human rights record simply means the entirety of the human race has blood on its hands whenever china abuses its citizens

i'm not naive, i don't believe divestment from china is possible. but i'm not morally bankrupt either. which means the current state of affairs is simply depressing, and evil

Re:you can rationalize anything i suppose (1)

ghyd (981064) | more than 6 years ago | (#22354234)

You don't understand: because Google's motto is "don't do evil", they don't. How dare you doubt it.

Re:you can rationalize anything i suppose (1)

mrlibertarian (1150979) | more than 6 years ago | (#22354432)

this quote is of course pure unadulterated bullshit

No, economic sanctions are pure, unadulterated bullshit. When you trade with an innocent consumer in another country, you are doing nothing wrong. Trying to stop two innocent parties from trading, on the other hand, is pure evil.

A Western company that trades with an African company is certainly not "a party to the state-sponsored racism", unless that trade directly aids state-sponsored racism (e.g. selling guns and ammo to the oppressors).

It doesn't matter if sanctions help bring down bad governments or not, any more than it matters if holding a terrorist's family hostage helps brings down the terrorist. The ends do not justify the means.

Re:The summary is basically the article...it's so. (1)

Adams4President (849082) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352474)

That may be true, but it may also work out the other way. "Food in your belly and a roof over your head" = happiness++. As long as people are happy, they normally don't challenge their gov't.

Re:The summary is basically the article...it's so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22352530)

> Doing business with an oppressive regime helps bring up the standard of living

That is the argument that war profiteers (like our beloved Bush family) used to justify selling weapons to the Nazis.

When people selling weapons of war and mass destruction to mass murderers meet your standards for morals, you may wish to reconsider how low your standards are...

Re:The summary is basically the article...it's so. (3, Insightful)

Samgilljoy (1147203) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352738)

Doing business with an oppressive regime helps bring up the standard of living for the people under it, eventually as the middle class grows it forces reform. Once there's food in your belly and a roof over your head, you start to pay more attention to what else is going on in your life. While Google is being a party to the state-censorship in China, remember that it's really the Chinese government at fault, and overall Google will have done more good than harm.

This is a very old argument that comes in many forms and has been used to justify doing business with and forming political alliances with many questionable entities. While there is something to be said for engagement, it really does not demonstrably do "more good than harm" except for the government or the business that choose to cooperate. What it does is mollify critics who don't look too deeply into motivations or miss most of the contradictions in corporate and state propaganda.

And in particular...

Doing business with an oppressive regime helps bring up the standard of living for the people under it...

Prove it - a priori or empirically, generally or with respect to China in particular, I don't care, just try to back that up

....eventually as the middle class grows it forces reform.

If a government creates conditions that allow for the elevation of people to what we call the middle class, those thus elevated have a heavy investment in maintaining that status quo. Moreover, the people in China with what we would consider a middle class lifestyle are still among the narrow elite, when you factor in the huge number of really poor.

Once there's food in your belly and a roof over your head, you start to pay more attention to what else is going on in your life

Huge, huge leap necessary to get from not worrying about basic physical needs to political activism. Might also want to try to show everyone how big business benefits the majority of the dirt-poor masses, since worrying about food and shelter is really their problem, not that of the average city dweller in China who might be elevated to the middle class. Moreover, cheap and dangerous manufacturing jobs will probably be what gets them that food and roof, and I'm just not seeing poisoned factory workers as effective lobbyists.

While Google is being a party to the state-censorship in China, remember that it's really the Chinese government at fault...

Complicity? Aiding and abetting? These have no meaning for your version of ethics? It's "really China's fault"? No, if a company chooses to cooperate, it's their fault. It's China's fault that it engages in censorship. Any party that cooperates is responsible for that cooperation

Re:The summary is basically the article...it's so. (1)

uniquename72 (1169497) | more than 6 years ago | (#22354574)

Doing business with an oppressive regime helps bring up the standard of living for the people under it
Not when the business you're doing specifically furthers the people's oppression. Trade is one thing; offering up your search engine as a tool of censorship and propaganda is another.

Re:The summary is basically the article...it's so. (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351774)

"Mr Guo did not mince words in his open letter. "To make money, Google has become a servile Pekinese dog wagging its tail at the heels of the Chinese communists," he wrote."

Kind of says it all, doesn't it?

Re:The summary is basically the article...it's so. (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353186)

Had Google and Yahoo! not been in China in the first place, this guy wouldn't be able to sue anyone, and thus you and I wouldn't have ever heard about him. You may call them evil for being there, but I guess it was their evilness that allows this guy an opportunity to make his voice heard.

Re:The summary is basically the article...it's so. (1)

CaptainPuff (323270) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352806)

As it is, there's also the occasional "removed due to DMCA" notices on Google searches... now would this also quailfy the US as a "evil [replubican] regime that suppresses their people and ideas"?

Re:The summary is basically the article...it's so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22353630)

China is an evil communist regime that suppresses their people
I don't have a problem with that. This is just my prsonal point of view, but I fucking hate the slant eyed cunts.

why beat up Yahoo and Google? (1)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353894)

You can't win Google and Yahoo! when you play by evil rules. China is an evil communist regime that suppresses their people and ideas.

You and I play by the same evil rules when we buy Chinese made electronics and clothes, made in Chinese sweat shops. The US government plays by the same evil rules when it borrows money from the Chinese (for interest!) and kowtows to Chinese monetary and trade policies.

So, don't blame Google or Yahoo alone; this is a problem that almost every American business, politician, and consumer is contributing to.

Link to real article (5, Informative)

powerlinekid (442532) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351614)

Heres a link to the real article so that you don't have to visit TechDirt's crappy blog.
Times Online [timesonline.co.uk]

Re:Link to real article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22351830)

I think the reason they link to the blog instead of the real article is so they don't have to write their own summary. They can just copy the text from the blog and cite them for it.

Re:Link to real article (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353002)

There was already a post linking to the article at the Times Online. Seems redundant to me.

He will be excluded (not virtually) (2, Funny)

tsbiscaro (888711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351692)

Probably China will "exclude" this guy anyway. For real.

Ah, the joys of communism...

Re:He will be excluded (not virtually) (2, Interesting)

Bloodoflethe (1058166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352014)

Communism =/= Bad. Communism = Bad Design. Communism, by design, relies on the assumption that people are basically hard-working and willing to work for the common good. When you try to make it work, you realize that people aren't like that. Then you try to force it work and you end up employing a horribly tight grip to keep your government stable. In small, isolated communities, communism can actually work fairly well. But then, there is no real diffusion of responsibility in that kind of situation. Everyone has a job to do, and everyone does it by necessity.

Re:He will be excluded (not virtually) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22352612)

well put.

whether or not they're communist (little 'c') is irrelevant in a discussion like this one. it's not communism behind the censorship, it's fascism. the two are very different.

And in other news (1)

Token_Internet_Girl (1131287) | more than 6 years ago | (#22351934)

Professor Guo Quan of China has suddenly disappeared without a trace. Officials are advising his family and friends to forget he ever existed, or else.

Re:And in other news (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352542)

Professor Guo Quan of China has suddenly disappeared without a trace.
Shh! Big Brother doesn't like it when you talk about unpeople like that...

Is this the Law of Unintended Consequences ... or. (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352036)

the unintended consequences of the law?

If the Chinese government has to support this case under the law, who do they fine? If Google is found guilty and forced to pay the guy, what recourse do they have for a whole barrage of such suits?

The world already knows that Chinese government forces Yahoo and Google to filter their content. Will the Chinese government support them in the legal actions, or simply disappear the guy bringing the litigation?

Interestingly, there is much ado about a similar issue in the USA. Should the government protect telecommunication companies that helped the government spy on citizens, or should those companies be left holding the bag for litigation of privacy violations?

Funny how the US Government and the Chinese Government seem to have so much in common?

Re:Is this the Law of Unintended Consequences ... (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352380)

...if the Chinese government has to support this case under the law, who do they fine?

Not sure what you mean. The Chinese government's not involved. Suit is in the US.

Mr Guo said that he could not sue Google or Yahoo! in China since they have no formal legal identity, but he would press his lawsuits against the parent companies in the United States.

Re:Is this the Law of Unintended Consequences ... (1)

TheSkyIsPurple (901118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353942)

>Interestingly, there is much ado about a similar issue in the USA. Should the government protect telecommunication companies that helped the government spy on citizens, or should those companies be left holding the bag for litigation of privacy violations?

I'm not seeing the similarity.
The government, as far as I know, didn't use its force to make the Telcos comply with their requests or threaten them with retaliation.

At least the Chinese government was open about what they were doing, and were following their own laws =-)

Re:Is this the Law of Unintended Consequences ... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22354266)

The should hold the bag so they have incentive to talk about it and let citizens know what is happening.

evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22352044)

it is impossible to both "play by the rules in China" and "do no evil"

A bit unfair (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352086)

I wish cooperations would obey the laws of the lands _more_. Seems counter productive, at least for my wishes when once publicity stunts only harm the ones obeying the laws.

skills put to good use... (2, Interesting)

bubezleeb (1222938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352324)

Idea... hack Chinese Google to ONLY display restricted results. Search "lose weight," get Wikipedia's Tiananmen Square article. Search "find love," get Amnesty International.

So is faxing blank legal papers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22352520)

And then calling them to see what they think about it.

in soviet russia ... no really (1)

andrei.kersha (1105137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352526)

radio programmes from BBC, Free Europe, Freedom were sources of information often contrary to Soviet propaganda. Those radio stations were periodically jammed and one could get into real trouble for listening to them. I don't see how search engine is any different here. American companies and America are often seen as the same, abroad. Being puppets for commies to make a buck is what it is. Yahoo and Google care about maximizing the value for their shareholders, not world peace.

Re:in soviet russia ... no really (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352846)

I'm sure Google China employees also care about not getting put in jail, but lets just overlook that fact and scream "do no evil!" a few more times while completely ignoring Yahoo! was even mentioned..

Interesting... (4, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352586)

I note that Mr Guo's name is mentioned nowhere in the Slashdot summary. Coincidence, or deliberate so as to not cause Slashdot's page to be temporarily blocked in China? And if so, is that bad (cowardice) or good (working around the restrictions)?

Re:Interesting... (1)

paradigmic (141615) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353090)

Well they mention in the article that it's the 2 characters of his name, so I'm pretty sure it's only his name in Chinese that would matter. Either way I doubt it would have an effect on Slashdot being censored or not, since the majority of stuff censored by the Chinese government is Chinese language materials. Realistically someone badmouthing the Communist Party or promoting democracy in English isn't particularly dangerous since most Chinese people aren't going to understand it, and if their English is good enough to read and understand such websites they're probably a university student and are at least a little aware of what goes on with regards to censorship.

The Fine Line Search Engines Walk (2, Interesting)

micahfk (913465) | more than 6 years ago | (#22352768)

You can follow three paths as a search engine (in simplistic terms):

1) Show everything--this implies crap sites (*coughs* boingboing), great sites (*coughs* /.), malware sites (3221.com), search results sites, etc. thereupon your results are fully awful, but absolutely representative of what a search engine is "supposed" to show by previous comments, and thus get banned in China thereby showing nothing.

2) Do as you are told--obviously not as fun and cries of shenanigans and submissions are there, but then you get to show more results to people around the world who otherwise would just be filled with pure propaganda.

3) Do your own thing--"hitting the corner of the ping-pong table", barely get by with regulations without getting punished.

Guess what? None of those are illegal to do under any international law at this point in time (although I recall some events within the US on trying to sue sites that just link to other pages, but nothing for the international arena) and certainly nothing illegal to show or not show within the US for political sites.

Remember, this is a corporation, not a government, so there is no "right" that you have for them to "display" your site in "their" index.

At least all algorithmically anyway.

Insert "Guo Quan" on all your web pages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22352984)

Would this help?

Anyone... (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353198)

... can make a search engine. If he doesn't like how Yahoo and Google are treating him, he should just make his own search engine. With blackjack and hookers. In fact, forget the search engine...

Wow-- very orwellian erasing his existence (2, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353206)

I'm afraid this changes my view of google.

I *TRUSTED* them to give me impartial and accurate information (vs MSN which was hilariously slanted for microsoft some times).

I am going to look for another search engine.

I find this behavior to be extremely repugnant.

I'm not sure I can forgive them. They will join Sony on my entire list of companies that I won't buy products from.

Full disclosure- I do still play everquest which sony bought... but other than that no purchases of any of their products for close to 6 or 7 years now as well as directing company purchases I advise on against sony every time.

Sad that a company sworn to be ethical would fall to this kind of evil behavior.

Re:Wow-- very orwellian erasing his existence (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22354384)

So, now more search engines for you, good luck with that.

My letter to google.. (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22353278)

Regarding suppressing references to the chinese professor:

I'm sorry, but I must stop using Google as a result of your collusion with the chinese government in erasing his existence. It certainly violates your stated founding principles so you can make money.

I will advise my friends to do so as well. Hopefully the loss of non-chinese profits will be sufficient to convince your company that this kind of behavior is too costly to continue.
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