Sunday, January 29, 2006

Online Censorship in the Year of the Dog - the Great Firewall of China

A widely reported story this week, although it didn't make front page headlines was the news that Google has co-operated with the Chinese government to censor its new search engine.
References to the Dalai Lama and Tibetan struggle for independence, Tiannanmen Square massacre of 1988 and the outlawed sect Falun Gong have all been removed (except for official condemnation) from the search engine by what has been dubbed the "great firewall of China".
Critics see this as a curb of the basic human right of free speech, but the general consensus was that Google had little choice in the matter, and was effectively giving in to the lesser of two evils in that the only alternative was withdrawing completely from the Chinese market. China's dismal human rights record is well documented, but it has come in leaps and bounds since the days of Chairman Mao and the Gang of Four. In any case it would be practically impossible to censor everything considered politically sensitive by the Chinese government. As the floodgates are slowly being forced open it seems that China in the long term will be unable to stem the tide.

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