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Google vs. China: Net censorship, 'information imperialism'

Robert X. Cringely | Feb. 10, 2010
The war of words between the United States and China heats up, thanks in part to Google and the U.S. State Department

Interestingly, that's the same percentage of Chinese who replied that they didn't want to spend the next 30 years scrubbing Premier Wen Jiabao's toilets. What an amazing coincidence! As for the 19 percent who agreed with Google lifting the censorship veil, well, let's just say old Wen won't have to worry about his toilets for a long long time.

It goes on:

It is not because the people of China do not want free flow of information or unlimited access to Internet, as in the West. It is just because they recognize the situation that their country is forced to face.

Unlike advanced Western countries, Chinese society is still vulnerable to the effect of multifarious information flowing in, especially when it is for creating disorder.

And by "multifarious information" they mean things like the fact the people of Tibet probably don't appreciate being squashed like a bug under the boot heels of China. Certainly can't have them Googling that, now can we? You might end up with disorder. Or tanks in the streets. Which you can view footage of on YouTube -- unless, of course, you live in China.

Also: I'm sorry, but can someone out there explain to me how a country can be considered unadvanced and vulnerable when it has a) a highly sophisticated culture dating back more than 5,000 years, b) 384 million netizens, c) electronics plants that build things like the iPhone, and d) the Bomb? Cuz I'm a little confused about that.

Bottom line: All governments lie and all governments spy. Uncle Sam is as guilty of that as any, regardless of which party is occupying the White House. But (unlike in China) you can read all about it on the InterWebs and argue about it in bars, without having to worry about spending time behind them.

It's when the Net is used as a tool for lying and spying that things go over the line. I think China understands that as well as anybody. Good luck getting them to admit it.

If you were Google, what would you do? E-mail me:


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