May 06, 2005

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Google and the Great Firewall

Extracted from today's Daily Linklets:

How Google is facing up to the China question and how it reconciles with its motto "don't be evil". But Fons is reporting that Google has a tool that might help beat the Great Firewall, called the Google Web Accelerator.
A similiar tool may be the Google mirror site elgooG (see below).

Previously Tom has documented Google's tricky relationship with China's censors and why criticism of Google and others over Chinese net censorship is misguided. Google themselves responded on China, Google News and source inclusion.

Only this week Richard was discusses how searches for "Freedom" in Google are banned in China. It got him a link from Kevin Drum, even though it has been known for some time "freedom" is amongst the many words banned by China's net nanny, thanks to the famous QQ DLL leak - CDT has the full list of banned words in English and Chinese. Will Kevin Drum link to me if I tell you Google won't return results for "triangle", "bitch" or "incest"?

Google isn't as evil in China as they are often portrayed. It is a company that must operate within the parameters set in each country it is used. If you don't like the system, take it out on China's censors, not Google. And don't pin your hopes on Google being the tool to undermine the censor. They're a company, not an ideology.

Other reading

Inside Google on Googling behind the Great Firewall and points to elgooG, a Google mirror that might get around the Firewall.
Slashdot article on Google's blocking of news stories in China plus the comments thread.
Dan Gillmor.
Google's expansion plans in China.
Richard on Google's assisting the Cybernanny and his response to Google's explanation.
Even the Google news site has been blocked by China, despite the alleged collusion.
Fons's criticisms of Google's previous explanations.
Glutter discusses the Google/Yahoo market share battle in China and its implications for freedom of expression.

posted by Simon on 05.06.05 at 03:24 PM in the


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I would think Google would like the Chinese Government. Its founders are leftist scum.

posted by: germaine greer on 05.06.05 at 07:53 PM [permalink]

Are you experiencing "link envy"? Why should you be upset that Kevin linked to a story most people don't know about? I had never heard about "freedom" being blocked this until I saw it at Washington Monthly, and according to all the comments, all his readers in China were shocked. If it is such common knowledge, why was everyone so surprised except you?

posted by: boo on 05.06.05 at 10:47 PM [permalink]

Simon, sorry that I (and the commenters on my blog) was unaware of the blocking of the F word in China. But don't you want the rest of the world -- especially those outside our own Asian blogosphere -- to know about it, too? I'd think you would want to thank Kevin for being one of the few superbloggers to write this up.

Will Kevin Drum link to me if I tell you Google won't return results for "triangle", "bitch" or "inc*st"?

I'm really curious why you wrote this. It doesn't sound like the Simon I've known and admired over the past two years.

posted by: richard on 05.07.05 at 12:31 AM [permalink]

Last comment: It appears Slate saw this as news as well. Do you see this as bad, that this issue is getting attention?

posted by: richard on 05.07.05 at 02:33 AM [permalink]

I have a good laugh with the banned words list. I haven't laughed so hard for a long time! :)

posted by: Angela on 05.07.05 at 03:32 AM [permalink]


I don't begrudge your link from Kevin Drum. My statement is a reflection of the frustration of getting recognition of these issues from so-called "top bloggers" and to demonstrate that there's a far bigger list of restricted words than just "freedom".

As you said, any publicity is good publicity. But I note you mention elsewhere the link didn't generate much extra traffic. Again it frustrates me that so many people who profess themselves concerned with freedom don't care for issues like this.

It isn't a reflection on you or your original post.

posted by: Simon on 05.07.05 at 11:29 AM [permalink]

Simon, thanks a lot for clarifying. I though you were belittling me for not knowing that Freedom was a banned word. And you are quite right about the lack of interest from the big bloggers on this topic. Even the link from Slate failed to generate any traffic -- people see "China" and they skip to the next post.

posted by: richard on 05.08.05 at 01:03 AM [permalink]

it has been known for some time "freedom" is amongst the many words banned by China's net nanny

Actually, Simon, this ban hasn't been tightly enforced throughout China until recently. For one example, within the past two months, I could look up Freedom House's website for data and commentary, and most of the words on the CDT "ban" list were searchable from where I am. Not anymore. A pity.

posted by: Matthew on 05.09.05 at 12:17 AM [permalink]

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