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Google submits to Beijing porn drive

Thumbing nose at Tehran OK, but not at Beijing

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Google's attempt to burnish its public image by helping anti-government demonstrators in Iran has been hobbled by its apparent submission to a Beijing anti-porn drive that has even drawn fire from the US government.

Last week Google trumpeted its subversive credentials by offering a Farsi translation tool, the same week that Twitter was credited with potentially powering a people's revolution in Iran.

But the search giant received a number of slaps last week from Beijing, as part of an apparent Chinese crackdown on net porn.

Official news agency Xinhua, reported that the Google's suggest function could serve up results that led unwitting citizens to deeper and deeper online filth.

Apparently, Google has already been warned twice this year for serving up search results that could corrupt the morals of Chinese citizens. It's possible that the function could have even serve up terms such as Tibet, democracy and other no nos.

Google could have stuck up for the rights of the Chinese to view the same sort of smut - and political stuff - as their counterparts in the West, but has chosen instead to quickly fall into line.

"We are undertaking a thorough review of our service and taking all necessary steps to fix any problems with our results," a statement from Google's headquarters in Silicon Valley in the United States said, according to Xinhua.

But Google's kowtowing to Beijing's censorship effort puts it at odds with the US government which has expressed concerns over the crackdown, which coincides with China's demands that PC vendors include Green Dam Youth Escort filtering software.

Apart from raising concerns that the mandated shipping of the software could create a huge botnet and lead to political filtering pretty rapidly, the company behind the software has been accused of lifting chunks of code a US firm's product.

According to the PA, The US embassy in Beijing said today: "The U.S. is concerned about actions that seek to restrict access to the Internet as well as restrictions on the internationally recognized right to freedom of expression."

"The U.S. Government is concerned about Green Dam both in terms of its potential impact on trade and the serious technical issues raised by use of the software," it added. "We have asked the Chinese to engage in a dialogue on how to address these concerns." ®

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