Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

×
Censorship Google Your Rights Online

Google's New Approach For China Is To Serve From Hong Kong 295

Posted by Soulskill
from the gauntlet-thrown dept.
abs0lutz3ro writes with a major update to the Google/China situation we've been discussing so much lately: "Google has stopped censoring simplified Chinese search results on google.cn by redirecting users to google.com.hk, which Google maintains is entirely legal. From the official blog: 'We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement. We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from Google.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we've faced—it's entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China. We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services. We will therefore be carefully monitoring access issues, and have created this new web page, which we will update regularly each day, so that everyone can see which Google services are available in China.' Seems like google.cn got served (from google.com.hk)."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google's New Approach For China Is To Serve From Hong Kong

Comments Filter:
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday March 22, 2010 @04:31PM (#31574868)
    Last time I checked, Hong Kong was was transfered [wikipedia.org] to full Chinese control about 13 years ago. So is this some sort of symbolic stunt done for some obscure reason, or is it actually supposed to accomplish something? Saying you're going to defy Chinese control by moving your HQ from Beijing to Hong Kong is like saying you're going to get out from under U.S. control by moving from New York to Chicago.
  • by kz45 (175825) <kz45@blob.com> on Monday March 22, 2010 @04:32PM (#31574882)

    It would have made more sense to do it from Taiwan.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 22, 2010 @04:37PM (#31574976)
    If I recall correctly, China is under obligation to at least pretend that Hong Kong is still free. Which is to say, citizens of Hong Kong technically maintain all the freedom they enjoyed under British control. When the authorities manipulate HK media or harass citizens, they keep it secretive. China has to be a lot more low-profile when they oppress the people of Hong Kong, so that the global community doesn't suddenly start to care again and call shenanigans.
  • by Conception (212279) on Monday March 22, 2010 @04:40PM (#31575012)

    China would, and probably will, manually block Google.hk. But it'll be fairly embarrassing that it's legal in some parts of their country but not others.

  • by religious freak (1005821) on Monday March 22, 2010 @04:44PM (#31575070)
    Yes, exactly. But this is *very* interesting from a geopolitical perspective. Because of Hong Kong's former status of a British colony, it has always enjoyed a separate set of rules, apart from "mainland" China. The censorship laws are generally less intrusive and citizens there have much more free reign over their affairs. I believe there are even elected officials who are not mandatorily members of the Communist party.

    My interpretation of this is that Google is REALLY pissing China off intentionally by doing this - exploiting the schism between Hong Kong and mainland China, forcing issues to the forefront which the Chinese like to ignore (like why does Hong Kong get less centralized control than other parts of China). This could be quite a large issue in China and Hong Kong should China decide to dictate terms to the more autonomous Hong Kong.

    Very interesting development...
  • Re:China's next move (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Monday March 22, 2010 @04:46PM (#31575110) Homepage

    Just because Google has an ulterior motive to provide uncensored access does not mean that it is not a concern. As you said, the move to oppose censorship differentiates their product and generates attention.

    It's nice when what is right coincides with what is lucrative.

  • Market Share (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zero0ne (1309517) on Monday March 22, 2010 @04:50PM (#31575166) Journal

    So, what % of the search market will Google now own after this change?

    I would imagine a LOT of people would start using Google if they found out it was uncensored.

    It will be interesting to watch how their market share changes from this.

  • Re:China's next move (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Monday March 22, 2010 @04:52PM (#31575206) Journal

    It's not so much a moral high ground of not dealing with people you don't like. Google wants to play ball with China, but it intends to beat them on fair terms; China intends to cheat. Rather than leave and let all the other players deal with China's unsportsmanlike conduct, Google is sitting around figuring out how to stay in the game and beat China regardless of their behavior.

    In other words, they're not doing anything unethical themselves; and they're strategizing their business maneuvers to both be profitable and attempt to follow an ethical basis. They have many choices, some blatantly evil and some where they throw their weight around to maximize their profits while either not hurting anyone or performing a humanitarian service; although these are business decisions, they can be made on more tasteful basis than squeezing the last few dollars out of an already profitable operation.

  • Re:Market Share (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:04PM (#31575380)

    I would imagine a LOT of people would start using Google if they found out it was uncensored.

    Definitely, but if you were on a Chinese ISP, wouldn't you be a little bit afraid to browse any of the search results?

  • by dave562 (969951) on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:05PM (#31575384) Journal

    My limited understanding of Hong Kong vis a vi China is that the Chinese allow a certain amount of economic freedom to Hong Kong in order to reap the benefits. Although Hong Kong might enjoy more freedom than the rest of China, there is no doubt that the Chinese do in fact own Hong Kong and Hong Kong is in fact part of China. I wonder if there will be any backlash against Hong Kong as a whole because of what Google is doing.

    In a nutshell it seems like they're saying, "Nahy nahy, we're in Hong Kong now. You can't touch us." That seems rather short sighted to me. On the other hand, they have a fairly defensible position. Would the Chinese risk looking like even more severe tyrants by disrupting the dynamics that govern companies in Hong Kong?

  • by randomlogin (448414) <chris.zynaptic@com> on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:06PM (#31575400) Homepage

    My interpretation of this is that Google is REALLY pissing China off intentionally by doing this - exploiting the schism between Hong Kong and mainland China, forcing issues to the forefront which the Chinese like to ignore (like why does Hong Kong get less centralized control than other parts of China). This could be quite a large issue in China and Hong Kong should China decide to dictate terms to the more autonomous Hong Kong.

    Personally, I'd have gone for +1 Insightful for this. It potentially serves to emphasise to the mainlanders that they are somehow second class to the citizens of HK. A former colleague once described going from HK to the mainland to visit a supplier as like going from West Berlin to communist East Berlin. He was talking about all the security involved - and having to be followed around by a communist party apparatchik all the time. However, you do have to wonder if there are other parallels to be drawn there...

  • by skine (1524819) on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:17PM (#31575546)

    Since the Sino-British Joint Declaration stipulates that China cannot interfere with the economic system, rights or freedoms of Hong Kong until 2047, I'm sure Google won't be kicked out too soon.

  • Re:China's next move (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:25PM (#31575670)

    Yes, the Chinese government badly played their hand. Rather than simply being satisfied with Google's voluntary censoring, they tried to throw up obstacles to protect domestic competitors, and then had the gall to employ hackers to hack into Google to steal IP and harass dissidents.

    It's a pity Western corporations and governments have been so tolerant of the Chinese government, apparently in the belief that the Chinese Communist Party would reciprocate. The CCP are hostile and dishonest towards foreigners not because it's in their interests, but because it's in their nature. With any luck, as the geriatric clowns brought up to beleive Maoism die off, the Chinese government may mature politically, and some day reach the level of development found in other Chinese societies like Taiwan, which weren't retarded by Maoist idiocy.

  • Re:China's next move (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jenming (37265) on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:28PM (#31575712)

    It might be. Local human rights violations, global economic shenagins, global environmental problems. Its possible that they could push the rest of the world too far. On the other hand a China that wasn't economically entangled with the rest of the world might become very dangerous.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:46PM (#31575966)

    You live someplace extraordinarily corrupt and unjust, then. Where exactly? Not the US, Canada, or any country in Europe whose laws I am familiar with (which isn't to say that those are a lot).

  • by mad_minstrel (943049) on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:47PM (#31575972)
    Embarrassing? Why? The US has many regional laws too.
  • by Xest (935314) on Monday March 22, 2010 @06:01PM (#31576170)

    Hong Kong was a British colony for over a hundred years, the people of Hong Kong aren't as hook line and sinker for the old following of the party line- they had a fairly British education system run there for the best part of a hundred years. Also, as part of the hand back to China, Hong Kong has 50 years protection (so what, around 37 left?) to self-govern, any attempts to change that by China would be a big deal internationally, pretty much akin to China anexing a neighbouring country on the political scale. They could do it, but it wouldn't be pretty for them.

    For the Americans, I suppose it would be akin to federal government taking full control of the state of Texas and disposing of state powers or something like that.

  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Monday March 22, 2010 @06:20PM (#31576476)

    Ever since Hong Kong return to China politicians and activists have tried to preserve the region's freedoms. The consensus seems to be that Hong Kong has been losing those freedoms, China has done a lot of meddling and the government has generally sided with the PRC. I don't recall the precise details but recently a number of politicians have openly protested China trying to exert more control. If I remember correctly, I think they suggested Hong Kong's politicians resigning en masse bringing about new elections with the hope that people would vote in those who would preserve the region's autonomy. I don't think much of anything came of it.

    From a business perspective Hong Kong is, without question, a far more mature market. They wont face the same kind of cut-throat market still rampant in China. The problem in China for Google isn't simply one of hackers. A company will try to set up a partnership with a Chinese company and that company will turn on them, stealing whatever they can in the process. And the foreign company will be powerless to do anything about it because the Chinese courts almost always side with their own companies. Punishments for Chinese companies tend to amount to a slap on the wrist. Some very successful people have gotten burned badly in China. Certainly, there's success to be had, but you'd better be vigilant and have a very trusted networks. I have friends who have dipped their toes in China and have decided that the potential for success wasn't worth the trouble.

    The nature of Google's business gives them the luxury of not having to be physically present in China. But the fact is that they still are in China, they're going to be facing many of the same issues they were facing in the mainland.

    If they were serious about making a statement they'd base themselves in Taiwan. But then again, the Taiwanese government probably doesn't want to get involved, especially given the current administration.

  • Re:How difficult (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rmm4pi8 (680224) <rmillerNO@SPAMreasonablereflection.net> on Monday March 22, 2010 @06:34PM (#31576646) Homepage

    I wasn't quite able to figure out the attitudes there. Where I was (Chengdu), everyone used anonymous proxies like crazy, and while they were quickly blocked more would spring up, with DNS/IPs often distributed on email lists. It was treated a bit like speeding in the U.S. I guess--technically illegal, best to avoid the cops, but everyone does it. I was using my corporate VPN as an easier access method, and even though VPNs are, as best I can tell, in the same sort of legal grey area, my usage really freaked people out. The very idea of encryption (even used to view the same exact material) gave them visions of visitors in the night.

  • by mirix (1649853) on Monday March 22, 2010 @06:48PM (#31576804)

    Right, but if memory serves me correct, some sort of agreement was signed with the British; The laws of HK cannot be changed (grossly, at least) for a 50 year period, or something along those lines.

    I'm not sure if that would apply to this, though?

    here it is:

    Chapter 1, Article 5 of the Hong Kong Basic Law, the constitutional document of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, reads:[2]

    "The socialist system and policies shall not be practised in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years."

    I suppose this could fall under "way of life". I don't know.

  • by SakuraDreams (1427009) on Monday March 22, 2010 @07:25PM (#31577222)

    Since the Sino-British Joint Declaration stipulates that China cannot interfere with the economic system, rights or freedoms of Hong Kong until 2047, I'm sure Google won't be kicked out too soon.

    And why should China obey that declaration. Doesn't the UK need China more than China needs the UK? Is the UK going to invade China? China can do what it wants in Hong Kong and they will do it if they think it's necessary.

  • by tsa (15680) on Monday March 22, 2010 @11:42PM (#31579218) Homepage

    I think it's a brilliant move. This is a company that proves so powerfull it can say Fsck You to China and even get away with it, if only for a short while. This is one of the best things Google can do to show that it cares about human rights.

Nothing happens.

Working...