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Google announces it will stop self-censoring its Internet search engine in China.



2010, January 12


Citing a major cyberattack, which appeared to have targeted e-mail of human rights activists and steal programming code, Google announces that it would stop the self-censoring of its Internet search engine required by Chinese laws. Since its start in 2004, the Chinese version of the Google search engine, has filtered out many search results related to the Tibet conflict and the events on Tienanmen Square in June 1989.

Google's decision to stop censoring its search results, even at the risk of loosing a huge market, is applauded widely in the Internet community and by human rights activists. It can be expected that other international Internet companies will feel pressure to follow Google's example.

Comment: Google's conflict with China's authorities is more than a dispute about economic rules for foreign investors in China. It highlights the fundamental discrepancy between China's authoritarian political system and its ambitions to become fully integrated in the global economy. If the Chinese government continues to impose its restrictive policies, foreign investors might increasingly be forced to retreat from the Chinese market. China's authorities are trying to balance the control of dissidents with allowing room for commercial development. While Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are often blocked to Chinese users, many news sites, such as BBC and CNN, are widely accessible in China.

Political censorship on the Internet is not unique to China. Many countries systematically block certain sites or try to filter particular content - often arguing they would only protect their population or ensure state security.



Stoker, D. (1999): Filtering out Minorities. In: Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, Vol. 31, No. 1, 3-6

Gutmann, Ethan (2002): Who Lost China's Internet? In: The Weekly Standard. Washington D.C., 25th February 2002.

Hachgian, Nina. (2001): China's Cyber Strategy. In: Foreign Affairs. 80, March/April 2001.


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