Sunday, March 28, 2010

Google, China and Content Regulation

From The New York Times:

What Happens as Google Uncensors Search in China?

Google has stopped censoring results on its Chinese search engine, but many underlying pages are still blocked. Meanwhile, some Chinese say Google risks a government shutdown of its service.

http://s.nyt.com/u/68V

See also this story

2 comments:

Hamid said...

I was surprised to read that Wang Congming, who is 27 and the author of AutoProxy, a piece of software designed to help people get around China’s firewall, believes that the average Chinese citizen is unaware of censorship. I would have thought that most people who use the internet, especially in China, would be young and therefore would be up to date on issues such as censorship in their country.

Louise said...

What I find interesting is that China's Constitution judicially recognises that the state can censor correspondence if state security so requires.

Article 40: "The freedom and privacy of correspondence of citizens of the People's Republic of China are protected by law. No organization or individual may, on any ground, infringe upon the freedom and privacy of citizens' correspondence except in cases where, to meet the needs of state security or of investigation into criminal offences, public security or procuratorial organs are permitted to censor correspondence in accordance with procedures prescribed by law."
http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/constitution/constitution.html

It's interesting because the idea of content regulation is a moral/ethical question. The Chinese government sees no harm in censoring any content that could compromise state security. Whereas US citizens, under the banner of the First Amendment, would consider it a breach of civil liberty if freedom of speech and freedom of press was censored:

"First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Although it is up to each state to make the moral/ethic call as to the extent of content regulation, you do have to wonder, in this case, to what extent the content censorship is helping or hindering Chinese citizens.