Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Google Will Not Censor Hate--But Sometimes The Truth

The Google director in Israel makes it clear that it is not the job of Google to battle anti-Semitism on the Internet:
Google is not the address for stopping online hate, the Israel director of the engine whose brand name is so well known that it means searching the Internet, told a conference on Monday.

...At Google, we have a bias in favor of people's right to free expression," [Google Israel Director Meir Brand] said. "Google is not and should not become the central arbiter of what does and does and does not appear on the Web. That's for elected governments and courts to decide," Brand said.

He said Google removes results from its search index "only when required to by law," for example, when copyright infringement is an issue. In Germany and Austria, he said, Google removes Nazi content, which is against the law there.
But apparently if a government is big enough and not shy about throwing its weight around, Google will be willing to fall in line and censor what its search engine allows access to. There is a reason that while Brand mentions Germany and Austria, he apparently does not mention China. Gordon G. Chang writes on Contentions about China:
where Google management risked its do-no-evil reputation last year to establish a site—www.google.cn—that gives new meaning to the concept of self-censorship. Try Googling “Tiananmen” or “Tibet” on the Chinese and American versions of the search engine, and see what I mean. Read this and this.

...the company is in fact controlling content today. So if Google censors at the behest of the Communist Party of China, why should it not self-censor for the Anti-Defamation League?

The Anti-Defamation League, and Israel itself, can be ignored with ease--China cannot. Besides, China knows it can always wait out world opinion. The 2008 Beijing Olympics are a reminder of that.

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