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July 21, 2006, by Léon Krijnen

The Great Firewall   


It appears that some people get wiser when they get older. While I leave any judgement regarding myself to my readers, I'm thinking longer than before about some things before I'm thinking anything about them. The big question is if it's because of wisdom, or because dying grey matter. Twice this week I've messed up my coffee making by putting coffee in the steamer, and milk in the coffee pad. Just a bit absent-minded, right?

Maybe because I was thinking about Google while making my morning coffee. Amnesty International has launched a campaign in which it accuses Google, Yahoo and Microsoft of aiding the repression of freedom of information and expression in China.

Translation in Dutch at @ DutchCowboys

Yahoo has been the target of Amnesty before, when it lend the Chinese authorities a hand in locating dissident journalist Shi Tao, who was subsequently put in jail for ten years.

Microsoft kowtowed to the Chines government when it closed a weblog on MSN, and when you Google 'Falung Gong' from within China you're not getting what you're requesting.

By the way, when you Google for 'Falung Gong' on Google.cn from The Netherlands, the very first hit is a 'Fuck China' website. My guess is that you will see another result from an Internet cafe in Shanghai, so if you might read this form there give it a try and let me know.

But Google from anywhere else on 'Google and China' and you've got some stuff to study.

By chance - thanks from my colleagues from documentation at the newspaper, who put it on my desk - I've read the monthly magazine of the Dutch arm of Amnesty International. First conclusion: Amnesty doesn't censor it's own magazine; the editors are independent journalists.

Or did I read the article about Google too quick? I'll be rereading the cover story about Google and China this weekend, because in my mind it's a well written justifiable story. Maybe Google's position regarding China isn't really defended in the article, but I remember at least some understanding.

For Google it's Hobson's choice: filter Falung Gong, filter dissidents, and if not, Google will not be passing the Great Chinese Firewall at all.

What to do?

Update 23.6.2006: Link: Internet Filtering in China in 2004-2005: A Country Study (Thanks to Rick Beemsterboer).

Posted: July 21, 2006 03:49 PM (380 words).   

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