Feeds

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

'Erase? No, no. We engage'

High performance access to file storage

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 company's Chinese portal, google.cn.

"To make money, Google has become a servile Pekinese dog wagging its tail at the heels of the Chinese communists," he told Google.

Then he informed The Times that he would slap a suit on Yahoo! too. "Since January 1, a lot of friends told me that websites with my name had been closed," he told the paper. "They told me it's impossible to search for my information on Google and Yahoo!" Google owns google.cn, while Yahoo! China is owned by Alibaba, a Chinese company that Yahoo! has a rather large stake in.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Radio Free Asia is also reporting that Guo Quan plans to sue the American giant - and that he's looking for other free-speech advocates to join him.

Guo Quan, The Times says, was once a university professor, specializing in Chinese literature and the 1937 Nanjing massacre, during which thousands of Chinese citizens were killed by the Japanese army. But after posting various open (web) letters to the Chinese president, calling for democratic elections and an overhaul of the army, authorities shutdown his blog, and his boss exiled him to a job in the university archives.

In November, Yahoo! settled an American lawsuit from two journalists - Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning - who went to prison after the company coughed up their info to Chinese authorities. But Guo Quan would break new ground with a suit over search results.

"I think it's a very important step for someone to stand up and say that search engines are not respecting his rights," says Clothilde Le Coz, of Reporters Without Borders. "The suits are likely to have any [legal] success, but they can bring attention."

Richard Idell, an attorney with the San Francisco law form Idell & Seitel, agrees that Guo Quan doesn't have a legal leg to stand on. "This a simple matter of Google adhering to the Chinese dictate," he told us. "China is a sovereign nation, and they can set their own laws. You can't force a company to go up against a country."

Google says that google.cn blocks search results in accordance with local laws. "We believe in engagement with China, not estrangement," says company spokesman Gabriel Stricker. "By being in China, we help people access more information, and when we do restrict information, we make clear that we've done so." The company declined to comment on this case specifically.

When we contacted Yahoo!, they sent us to Alibaba. And Alibaba was asleep. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.