January 29, 2006

A Yen to Censor


From CNN: Google to censor itself in China.

Internet search engine Google has rolled out a China-based version of its popular Web site -- one that bows to Beijing's censorship laws and will edit the content of its results.

Google.cn -- the Chinese language version of the search portal -- debuted Wednesday with the company acknowledging the balancing act it was attempting to perform.

"In order to operate from China, we have removed some content from the search results available on Google.cn, in response to local law, regulation or policy," a Google statement said.

"While removing search results is inconsistent with Google's mission, providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission."

Google said it intends to report to users when information is removed from search results. The company says it does the same thing in response to local laws in Germany, France and the United States.

Prior to Wednesday's debut in China, Google operated the Chinese-language version of the search engine through a link on its U.S. Web site, Google.com.

Previously, the Beijing government blocked the results of search requests that violated its regulations. The new Google site will self-censor based on Chinese law.

Little Green Footballs recently posted an example of the results of this self-censorship:

Standard Google Image Search for "tiananmen"
China Google Image Search for "tiananmen"

Pajamas Media has extensive coverage of the topic: China Syndrome.

UPDATE -- Jan. 30: Paul Boutin discovers that Google's Chinese filter only works if you spell correctly (via Tom Pechinski).

Posted by Forkum at January 29, 2006 08:29 PM