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. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
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
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
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.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.