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back to article Archived Chinese scholar to sue Google and Yahoo! over search censorship

A pro-democracy Chinese activist plans to sue Google and Yahoo! for removing his name from their web search results. Last week, The Times reports, former university professor Guo Quan published an open letter to Google, the world's largest search engine, threatening to sue stateside because his name no longer appears on the …

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Google knows it could be more honest

If Google really believed its own words about engagement, then when searches were performed on google.cn whose results need to be blocked due to Chinese censorship rules, Google knows it could tell the user the total number of hits and the total number of allowed hits. That would then allow the Chinese people to see how much they are missing without showing them anything they are not allowed to view.

Something like a search on "Tiananmen Square" saying

Results 1 - 10 of 1100 allowed, out of about 1,500,000 for Tiananmen Square

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Cry me a river

Look, I know we live in the world of sue-n-screw, but can we please get a little perspective? First, Google and Yahoo Chinese entities *HAVE* to follow Chinese law. Just as their US entities have to follow US law, their UK entities have to follow UK law, etc. I don't agree with their past practices involving their Chinese operations, but that's irrelevant.

What really gets to me is this notion people have that Google and other search engines just *HAVE* to list their sites. They don't. There is nothing that says Google will return search results for every website. They are a business. They are not obligated to you, me, or anyone else other than their owners and shareholders. They could decide to stop returning search results entirely if they wanted to.

Simply put, no search engine is legally, morally, or ethically bound to ensure any website is in its search results. And no website owner can legally, morally, or ethically expect to be listed in a search engine's database. Search engines are there to make money. To that end, they make it easy for people to find a lot of things online. But they are not required to do so.

There is no right that says your website will be listed in a search engine database. Deal with it.

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Seems to still work

Searching for the guys name and nanjing on google.cn results in this as the third top answer:

Guo Quan « Status of Chinese People

- [ 翻译此页 BETA ]

Former Nanjing university professor Guo Quan on Wednesday claimed his “New Democracy party” enjoyed widespread backing for its goal of ending Communist ...

chinaview.wordpress.com/category/people/intellectual/guo-quan/ - 183k - 类似网页

Unless Google.cn filters based on geolocation.... Suggests the system isnt perfect.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to lock the door before the Communist pary enforcers arrive.

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IT Angle

Do more evil ..

"They are a business. They are not obligated to you, me, or anyone else other than their owners and shareholders." - Chris C.

I didn't see in that article where it said he wasn't a shareholder (China even has its own *economy* now - it's true!)

Mind you for a company touting such an altruistic mission ("Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.", http://www.google.com/intl/en/corporate/index.html), then I'd say he has grounds on any of false advertising, corporate misconduct, or misleading the SEC; shareholder or otherwise.

"By being in China, we help people access more information, and when we do restrict information, we make clear that we've done so." - Gabriel Stricker.

I'd be mighty pleased if Gabriel Stricker would post the URL for that live list of clear information restrictions (restrictions by URL and reason, thanks). I'd want to know what my western government would like me not to see.

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Coat

Hey, my website isn't #1 for this keyword....

I think I'll sue! And if it ever goes completely off the results, I'll sue some more!

Or is it just possible that Google is not binded by anything to include something in its results... I'm all for screwing censorship, and there's nothing stopping this guy from publishing himself on the net, but it's not Google's job to make sure his speech gets heard.

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Pirate

all geolocation.

all of Google is geolocation. e.g. French Nazi ban & ads.

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Pirate

When a Search Engine is not a Search Engine......

"..and there's nothing stopping this guy from publishing himself on the net, but it's not Google's job to make sure his speech gets heard."

But it surely is, otherwise they are not a successful business but just someone's political tool.

And "but can we please get a little perspective? First, Google and Yahoo Chinese entities *HAVE* to follow Chinese law. Just as their US entities have to follow US law, their UK entities have to follow UK law, etc..." makes an Ass of the law in that it be different in different places/spaces and all based upon the thoughts and opinions of old brains with no Knowledge of the Present Day Skullduggery and Virtual Futures.

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Anonymous Coward

well

If he goes to the states he best not play any dvds or music he bought in China or else he could get a call from mr RIAA requesting several thousand pounds.

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Anonymous Coward

@M. Burns

At which point the Chinese Government tell them to get out of their country.

I know it's hard, but China actually has it's own search engine that is more popular then google. Shocking I know, but the truth!

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Stop

"Communism"?

Slightly on a different tack, I love how "communism" has come to mean "fascism" and I rather suspect that on the same lines, "democracy" has also shifted its meaning over time...

So, based on these new definitions, China is indeed a "communist" state and the USA is certainly "democratic"!

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Google? Yahoo? Businesses?

Chris C and Jach are absolutely right that search engines like Google and Yahoo. But the people responsible for the idea that they're anything but are Google and Yahoo themselves. Google's entire rhetoric and self-presentation is that they're NOT 'simply' a business, like, say, baddies like Microsoft: they're a public service of (near-messianic?) proportions.

This kind of malarkey in China is bad for democracy. And it's also ultimately bad for Google's self-image - and hopefully market share.

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@mother hubard

"I'd want to know what my western government would like me not to see."

Much of the World:

Child Pornography.

Germany

Nazi Propaganda and memrobila

UK (if they get their way)

"Terrorist" websites.

And the list goes on.....

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Re 7:30

It pretty much is. The left-wing/right-wing political axis is not a line, it's a circle, with the extremes curling round and eventually joining. Give the state enough control over the individual and the result is pretty much the same every time no matter what its supposed ideology.

Yes, I know what you're getting at - communism as practised by Stalin is very different from that envisaged by Marx. It happens. Christianity is very different from how Christ would have imagined it. Ditto Islam and Mohammed. And I have to avoid describing myself as a libertarian now thanks to Ron Paul, for fear that people will assume it means I want to reintroduce slavery and send black people down mines to dig for gold. Debating whether a movement is true to its founding ideals is a nice intellectual exercise, but pretty pointless in a discussion about the present.

But anyway, to get back on the subject, Google is indeed a private company and its responsibility is to its shareholders. It's extremely irresponsible to blur the line between private enterprise and government by acting as if a business should act for the greater good, even when it has the income of a small government. It means you can't complain when they start acting as if they are the government (as the RIAA et al do).

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@amanfromMars

Got a new supply of dried frog pills, have you? That actually made some sort of sense!

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Coat

If Alibaba is asleep....

....why don't you contact one of the 40 thieves ??

/That's the one with matching slippers with curly toes

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Solution?

Google could easily beat censorship protests by automatically moving all banned sites further down the results list. Who's going to page through to result 176,000 out of 235,000? They could then claim to list all sites no matter what name-of-gov says!

Seems to me this guy could pass out his site address verbally and let it propagate by word of mouth, e-mail etc. (if it's any good, it will).

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Anonymous Coward

you forgot the ! in the headline

just looks weird without 'em, it's still Yahoo! ain't it?

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IT Angle

@Stu Reeves

I believe I said "post the URL for that live list of clear information restrictions (restrictions by URL and reason, thanks)".

I know there are restrictions by country - an elderly relation of mine, in one western country, was put-out that she was not legally entitled to access web sites on assisted suicide. Those born of an age where information came through direct contact with something (people you knew, or paper produced locally for example) don't seem to understand the current impact of these restrictions that have always been in place - that books aren't imported, that news isn't published, that video footage is re-edited - let alone complex interplay such as press on Microsoft products in *MSN/MSN* news agencies; when you can access first hand reporting of sources these deficiencies become clear.

Let's see Google really clearly (and theres nothing more clear than transparent) show us those restrictions - take poster 1's method as a short-stop that doesn't divulge the filter explicitly, for example. Or try, say, http://[google-domain-of-your-choice]/filters/ for a list of filters in your current view (domain and geo-location), updated real-time with, say;

"http://*.stureeves.org/*", "US FBI Miscreant List"

"http://*/~MotherHubbard/*", "UK ElRej Bollocks Assessment 08-02"

.. for every user on earth.

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why?

I admit I have never heard of thios chinese person, who feels that since when you key his name in to google it returns 0 results ans he claims they CENSORED him? then I gbuess I am censored too because I key my name into google and it returns no results either. Should I sue? roflmao yeah RIGHT I would have thought he'd appreciate his privacy that was allowed by him not showing any results

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Stop

Doing "business"

Hate to say it, but doing "business" in places like China that thrill in ensuring their populace doesn't know just how bad off they are (Christians get put in hard labor camps JUST because they exist, and people are moved out of their ancestral lands JUST so the gubment can build the world's largest dam) means towing the gov't line. The Chinese gov't it needs to censor the flow of information to protect the gov't, not to protect the populace. It ensures a never-ending flow of red tape (in both senses of the word 'red').

At the risk of sounding like a Google apologist (no, don't work for them, don't get paid by Google Ads, don't run their PC or phone OS, and don't have any of their stock), I feel sorry for them being between a rock and a hard place. Dare I say there will ALWAYS be some kind of censorship in every country, but some places really tighten those screws!

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