Feeds

One month later, Google still censors China search

Premature Mountain View worship

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Comment From the department of premature congratulations: One of China's best-known artists and activists just spoke out in support of Google's "decision" to stop censoring search results inside the world's most populous nation.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece headlined "Google Gives Us Hope," Al Weiwei also said two of his Gmail accounts were breached by unknown intruders and messages were automatically "transferred to an unknown address." He said that even as the internet was promoting greater political participation, Chinese authorities were working hard to stifle this possibility.

"All this makes Google's decision to stop censoring to protect its China operations especially significant," he wrote. "First, it is encouraging for the Chinese people to see that a leading internet company recognizes that censorship is a violation of basic human rights and values. Such controls damage the core ethos underpinning the internet."

Perhaps no one told Weiwei that Google.cn continues to heavily censor search results exactly a month to the day after it revealed its defenses were pierced by sophisticated attacks that probably came from China. A close reading of the underlying Google post makes it unclear when, or even if, the company will ever bring China's 1.3 billion citizens the unfiltered information Weiwei says is crucial for liberty to flourish.

Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond never said his company would stop censoring hot-button issues such as the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989. Instead he said Google management had "decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all."

The wiggle room in that promise is big enough to drive a truck through. A spokesman declined to say when the company planned to stop censoring google.cn results and instead referred us to Drummond's post.

All of which has us wondering if all the hoopla about unfiltered search results was a smokescreen intended to distract world + dog from the very embarrassing admission that the world's No. 1 search engine was breached and absent a complete withdrawal from China, it isn't confident it can repel future attacks. A more cynical take might be that Google's threat has less to do with basic human rights and values and more to do with a PR-savvy exit strategy.

To be fair, it's possible Google's reticence is the result of ongoing discussions in which company executives convince Chinese officials to allow the search behemoth to remain in China even though it will no longer comply with their censorship requirements. But until Google turns off the filters, let's dispense with the congratulations. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.