Google remembers its promise to “do no evil”

Google is no longer going to censor itself in China:

We launched in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that “we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China.”

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China.

The attack Google is talking about is “a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google” in December in which “a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists”. (They believe they were unsuccessful.)

No longer

Google’s original claim that it was compromising its principles in China because it thought it could do more good than harm may have seemed cynical and unbelievable at the time: but it turning around and refusing to be complicit a moment longer, profits be damned, once it becomes clear that the reverse is true, bolsters their credibility considerably.

The fact that the Chinese government will continue to oppress its citizens regardless of whether we participate is not a reason to participate anyway.

Good on Google for finally seeing that.

ELSEWHERE: The ALP reveals its plans to pass its censorship filter this year but only implement it after the next election, so gullible voters will think “it’s passed and my internet’s still fine”, and so there’ll be as long a time as possible between the discovery that it’s not and a chance to do something about it at the ballot box.

And the UK government presses ahead with its plan to make all British internet users pay to fight “piracy”, and force 40,000 poorer households offline.

UPDATE #2: Surprisingly enough it seems that Google is still censoring itself when the subject is Islam. Type “judaism is” or “christianity is” or “buddhism is” into the search engine, and it will suggest several unflattering conclusions for the phrase. Type “islam is”, and it is strangely silent.

Google claims that’s a bug and they’re going to fix it.

23 responses to “Google remembers its promise to “do no evil”

  1. …and Chairman Rudd and Comrade Conroy have announced that they will not introduce our Internet filter until *after* the election.

    Wonder what year it is when Google shuts down

  2. Ah – for a minute there I thought you meant they were waiting until after the next election to put up such legislation. But no, they’re planning to pass it now and implement it as far from the following election as possible. Cowards. Gits.

    If the Liberals explicitly promise NOT to impose such a filter (and only if), I might well preference them ahead of Labor.

  3. And while we’re on that subject – seen the UK bill yet? They’ll force 40,000 households off-line and make every internet user in the country pay extra to make the recording industry feel better.

    … I’ve updated the post with those links.

  4. If the Liberals explicitly promise NOT to impose such a filter (and only if), I might well preference them ahead of Labor.

    Well it’s your vote. But think about all the other stuff that the Liberals are backwards on: climate change, the economy, tax reform, separation of church and state, financial equality for same sex couples, Aboriginal reconciliation, women’s issues, asylum seekers, the truth and so on. Conroy’s Mandatory But Useless Filter is a stupid policy, but there’s no way I’d be preferencing a bunch of Far Right extremist zealots ahead of a moderate, centrist party because of it.

    A general question in relation to Conroy’s filter: why has there been so little MSM reaction to it? News Ltd took the view that the filter was fine and dandy, whereas only limited Fairfax space seemed to be devoted to discussion about the filter.

  5. Oh and I’ve just noticed the NO CLEAN FEED

  6. I think News Ltd WANTS the internet crippled. It’s the competition they hate.

    As for ALP vs Liberals – well, we’ll see. I’d be surprised if the Liberals were less evil on this subject than the ALP, in which case there’d be no point preferencing them. How’s the ALP better than the Liberals on tax reform? Or separation of church and state? Or equality for same sex couples?

    There’s a reason the acronym is commonly understood to mean “Another Liberal Party”.

  7. dunno what happend there. Anyway just noticed that button and surely that’s the problem getting mainstream attention to the issue: “clean” is perceive as good. The filter is anything but good, maybe that needs to change?

  8. ahead of a moderate, centrist party because of it.


  9. The Libs opposed labor’s laws giving financial (superannuation and death benefits) equality to same sex couples in the APS, so i’m assuming they remain opposed to it. Abbott has form in using theological language to defend policy stances when in government, esp in relation to women’s health, and by appointing priests and other religious workers to just about every health related committee when he was health minister regardless of their expertise or experience in the subject matter.

    The Libs appear to be already steeling themselves to oppose whatever happens to be proposed in the Henry Review.

  10. The internet filter issue is a vote changer for me. ALP out unless it drops it completely. Still waiting for the Liberals policy. Can’t vote Green until they release some responsible economic and environmental policy. Socialist Alliance – BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Better bone up on what the independents policies are then.

    Good on Google though – look out for China targetting your business though. They can mount one hell of a cyber attack campaign.

  11. hopefully google withdraws from australia too, once the new filter comes in.

    aussies might learn a thing or two…instead of being spoon-fed heavily redacted wikipedia results for every topic !

  12. This is all part of an intense desire by governments and commercial interests to tame and colonise the internet for power and profit. Unless a lot of people react to continued encroachments the battle will be lost before anyone notices.

  13. LDP for me if they’re running in my seat. I don’t agree with all their policy’s but there is a fair chunk that resonates with me.

  14. Jeremy: I remember recently seeing a promo for an anti-filter campaign where site owners can ‘black out’ their site for a day – leaving a link so you still get to view the site in it’s proper format. Have you heard about this as I haven’t seen anything more about it. Anti filter advocates need to get a bit more organised and vocal in my view.

  15. The Greens are the only party in parliament who’ve consistently stood against Conroy’s filter – they’ve been the ones calling him to account in the Senate and elsewhere.

    Would I be right, Cemil, in suspecting that your definition of “sensible” economic policy is hard-right “screw the poor” pro-corporate stuff?

    Confessions – no, haven’t heard about that.

  16. Found it linked to at HAT. Also this linked there as well.

  17. Shame the Greens had Hamilton represent them. His involvement muddy the waters with their filter opposition.

  18. Nah – Ludlum made it clear he’s in charge on that issue. Hamilton was there on environmental policy. And he lost.

    The Greens remain the only firm opponents of the filter in parliament.

  19. Still doesn’t look good and sends out the wrong message.

  20. “Would I be right, Cemil, in suspecting that your definition of “sensible” economic policy is hard-right “screw the poor” pro-corporate stuff?”

    No, but good generalisation anyway. Would I be correct in assuming that “soak the rich”, redistribute the wealth and ” from each according to their means to each according to their needs”, be your definition? Probably not, but hey I can generalise with the best of them.

    I am not convinced by greens environmental and economics policy. It is too far to the left for me and does not contain the neccesary detail to convince me that they are a responsible political entity to hold power. Any and all human activity has an impact on the environment, mostly negative. Mitigation of negative effects is required but we did not become a fossil fuel based economy overnight, although the green policies seem to think we can revert to renewable overnight. That’s my beef.

  21. “Would I be correct in assuming that “soak the rich”, redistribute the wealth and ” from each according to their means to each according to their needs”, be your definition?”

    Nup. You’d be correct in assuming that my definition involves making sure all kids have a first rate public education, that all Australians have access to first-class healthcare, and that the government invests in necessary public infrastructure.

    Which Greens economic policy is so deficient for you? What policy indicates that they “think we can revert to renewable overnight”?

  22. Google may have its own reasons for its stance in China.

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