Feeds

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

'Erase? No, no. We engage'

The Power of One Infographic

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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.