Yesterday, Google announced a new and special version of their search engine created especially to comply with the rules of the Chinese government. This version excludes e-mail messaging and the ability to create blogs, but that is not the part that really gets me. This new Google will comply with Chinese law and censor information deemed inappropriate or illegal by the Chinese authorities. Specific words will be blocked including: Tibet, Falun Gong and Tiananmen Square. Additionally, they will pass user information back to the government. From today's NY Times article:
In one case two years ago, Yahoo provided information that helped the government convict a Chinese journalist, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison, on charges of leaking state secrets to a foreign Web site.
I don't feel good about this. It makes me want to stop using Google, and Yahoo for that matter. Aren't these companies rich enough without trading in civil rights for more profit? I know there is a great desire to be in the Chinese market place, but if companies like Google and Yahoo who can afford to ban doing business with China would do so, it would be an incredible statement.
Again from the NY Times:
The Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders, which tracks the activities of Western technology companies seeking to do business with repressive regimes, condemned the Google-China deal as "hypocrisy" and called it "a black day for freedom of expression in China" in a statement published on its Web site.