Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Google vs the People’s Republic of China - How They Store Your Data

Censorship and the internet have been a hotly debated topic for years now, but one of the biggest stories is how the internet search engine Google is dealing with its relationship with the communist country of China. In Short, the government of China has control over the internet service providers within its borders and they filter much of the content from users. Not only do they filter content, they monitor it as well.  Their intent is to stop the free and fair exchange of information and to make their citizens unaware of happenings outside of China’s borders. For example, if you are using the internet in China, it would be almost impossible to find negative facts about their “communist” government. Even certain events in history may be blocked to make it appear like they never happened.  Information in today’s age is an important tool and can empower the people. This is what China is trying to avoid.

Since the U.S. company Google is one of the most popular search engines, they provide search results for millions throughout the globe. This brought about a tough situation in terms of dealing with China. The Chinese government refused to allow Google access unless they filtered their results within the search engine. Google actually agreed to this as first, stating “some access is better than no access”, and that not allowing Google to operate is a form of censorship in itself (Marshall).  Many felt that censoring the results went too far and encouraged the communist ways of the Chinese government.

After months of operating this way, Google felt it was time for a change. They decided they could actually route traffic to servers in Hong Kong, which has far less strict laws than the other Chinese provinces. Google also put a stop to all censorship of its search results. This forced the Chinese government to censor the results themselves. Since all internet traffic in China goes through their firewall, the government was still able to censor the results themselves. This just required quite a bit more work and effectively ruined their relationship with the Google Corporation.  Google also made clear “to Chinese citizens and the world just what content is being censored (those searching for the Tiananmen Square uprising, for example, now get an error page instead of no search results) (Marshall). These changes in policy could greatly affect Google’s business in China. Keep in mind they are not the only search engine available.  Other search engines like Bing and Baidu and increasingly more popular and more compliant with the government.

            In the end, Google had to make the best decision for themselves and the people of China. They as a company decided to do what was most ethical, and not filter or censor content on the internet. Google is not the only organization opposed to the policies of China. Many other groups in the world feel exactly the same. “Until now, Western companies and governments have mostly gone along with Beijing's policies -- though U.S. computer manufacturers successfully resisted an attempt by China last year to require that censoring software be pre-installed on all new computers. Now Google has taken the admirable step of embracing open and public resistance” 

No comments:

Post a Comment