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Google's Submission to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus

By - February 02, 2006

This is the statement from Google counsel Andrew McLaughlin. It’s pretty comprehensive. It reviews Google’s approach, and states:

“We believe that our continued engagement with China is the best (and perhaps only) way for Google to help bring the tremendous benefits of universal information access to all our users there.”

and

“Google supports the idea of Internet industry action to define common principles to guide technology firms’ practices in countries that restrict access to information. Together with colleagues at other leading Internet companies, we are actively exploring the potential for Internet industry guidelines, not only for China but for all countries in which Internet content is subjected to governmental restrictions. Such guidelines might encompass, for example, disclosure to users, and reporting about governmental restrictions and the measures taken in response to them.”

I’d be very keen to hear about progress on this front.

And lastly, the statement concludes:

“There is an important role for the United States government to address, in the context of its bilateral government-to-government relationships, the larger issues of free expression and open communication. For example, as a U.S.-based company that deals primarily in information, we have urged the United States government to treat censorship as a barrier to trade.”

Good luck there, guys.

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7 thoughts on “Google's Submission to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus

  1. Bonequark says:

    It’s ironic that Google wants to feel free to censor content when it suits their business purposes, yet they squawk loudly when the phone companies bring up the notion of throttling bandwidth. You can’t condone censorship – even tacitly – and expect to be taken seriously when it comes to Internet neutrality.

  2. SorenG says:

    It’s hard to have it both ways: “Government please leave us alone to do as we like,” and “Government please set some guidelines for us since we cannot do it ourselves.” They seem to be saying that as long as they can do what they are in China (and others are as well) they will do it. The only option they see is some kind of goverment intervention. It may be that the Gov needs to do something, but I would rather like to see Google live by their “do not do evil,” regardless of our government’s policies (or the lack thereof).

  3. Andrien Zanier says:

    If any of the netizens, complaining about Google censoring the SERPs, lived in China with this type of rebelious uncultural minded behavior, they would likely be lock up or 6 feet deep. You people have no idea what the PRC commanders are like. Republicans or US Military don’t stand a chance at the chinese strictness. By the way, John, congrats on “The Search” or “A Busca” in my country, Brazil.

  4. Mahlon says:

    As much as I love Google, and have lavished praise on the company in the past, I just can’t get past this censorship issue.

    It’s morally indefensible, it goes against everything that Google is about, and it will be bad for Google in the long run.

    Morally, Google is solving an evil with a lowercase ‘e’ (poor user experience) by committing an Evil with a capital ‘E’ (enabling government repression). And Google isn’t just passively allowing the Evil to happen; they’re actively developing the technology that strengthens the government’s grip. Hoping to achieve some future openness through “engagement” is hogwash as long as that “engagement” requires strengthening the tools of repression.

    It’s wrong when Microsoft and Yahoo do it, but it’s especially Evil for Google since Google’s brand and image are built on a foundation of trust and doing the right things for the right reasons. How much damage will Google do to its brand around the world if they continue diluting their image?

    Brin and Page said that Google was an unconventional company. Seems to me Google is following the crowd into China and making the same ethical rationalizations to get there that their competitors have. That’s conventional thinking, and not something I expect from Google.

    Here’s an unconventional thought. After listening to the hue and cry about their collaboration with the Chinese, what if Google decided to pull out of China until their service could be provided without political filters. As you said, John, “There’s still time to pull out, guys.”

    What an innovation that would be! Just as Google gained incredible loyalty (and market share) by saying “No” to revenue from banner ads on the home page, saying “No” to participation in China could cement Google’s biggest competitive advantage — its image as the ultimate source of unbiased and unfiltered information.

    Google risks losing their image as the trusted information source. How can the company that will make the world’s information universally accessible have anything to do with actively censoring and biasing legitimate political thought?

    Yesterday, Bill Gates made headlines for campaigning against censorship on the Web. Google just gave Microsoft a foothold into diluting Google’s brand.

  5. Jane says:

    It´s unreal to set guidlines by government and in the same but also other case they want to use the benefit of free universal information. You have to choose one option and don´t use one day border by gov and he other one day free voting.

  6. technologos says:

    I view Internet as ultimate medium of intellectual freedom media and my objective is to discuss the essential problem how to define and how to defend intellectual freedom as fundamental human rights paradygm for internet media due to latest Google’s values compromise or controversy in China as well as with US gov. reveals s that even entrepreneurial culture is morally corrupted with dominance of corporate authoritarian governance that plays well with dictatorian draconian rules of China gov.

    China’s jailed leader of Tiananman Sq. Wang Dan who’s our test expert on China’s intellectual freedom thinks the internet has two influences. One is a good influence:
    Chinese people can have more information and have more contact.
    But the second influence is a bad influence because it helps the
    government to control people because they can censor the
    internet. So it’s very important for the international community
    to try to stop government’s using the internet as a tool to
    censor the people.

    http://logosophos.blogspot.com

  7. Tim says:

    I’m sure this will probably be bad for Google’s image, but I think it’s debatable which action is the lesser evil. If truly the goal is to eliminate censorship in China, is it best to pull out, on principle, allow them to build their own Google, which would probably lead to greater censorship, or is it better for our free country to establish as many relationships and footholds in China as possible (even if on their terms)? I think for us to combat censorship China needs constant reminders of the successes a free culture can produce– not on a B2B or government level, but in the daily lives of their citizens.