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The Courts Censorship China United States

U.S. Court: Chinese Search Engine's Censorship Is 'Free Speech' 284

jfruh writes: "You will probably not be surprised to learn that Chinese search giant Baidu censors a wide range of content, particularly political material deemed to be pro-democracy — and does so for users everywhere, not just in China. A group of activists filed suit against Baidu in New York for violating free speech laws, but the judge in the case declared (PDF) that, as a private entity in the United States, Baidu has the right to provide whatever kind of search results it wants, even for political reasons."
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U.S. Court: Chinese Search Engine's Censorship Is 'Free Speech'

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  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi AT evcircuits DOT com> on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:19AM (#46602255) Homepage

    Why? The constitution only regulates the US government. It doesn't regulate neither the Chinese government nor private entities inside or outside the US.

  • 14th Amendment (Score:5, Informative)

    by ZombieBraintrust ( 1685608 ) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:31AM (#46602385)

    No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States

    The US Constitution requlates state goverement since the passage of the 14th Amendment. A New York free speach law can not limit the speach of the owners and employees of Baidu. They are allowed to have bias.

  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:34AM (#46602431) Journal
    Our knee-jerk reaction to this here in the U.S. is predictable: "Oh shit, there goes the 1st Amendment!".
    Not so simple, though: Baidu is a private company here in the U.S., even if it's blindingly obvious it's 100% driven by the Chinese government/Chinese communist party (same thing, really) and as such they can provide whatever search results they want. Same would go for Google, or Yahoo, or Bing, or whoever -- the caveat being that if, say, Google decided to start censoring search results to the extent Baidu does, then Google would be finished as the de-facto search engine here in the U.S. However: Nobody is forcing you to use Google, Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, or any other search engine here in the U.S. Even if you're a Chinese National living here in the U.S., unless the Chinese communist party has someone standing there with a gun to your head, you're free to NOT use Baidu, just like you're free to NOT use Google, Yahoo, Bing, or any other search engine, too. Don't bring me your "We don't REALLY have a choice" crap, either, because you do, even if you don't like the choices you have. Also, finally, someone else could always start up their own search-engine company if they think there's a niche to fill, and they could make a gigantic point of how they censor none of the results -- and they might even unseat everyone else in the process.
  • You're Wrong (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:47AM (#46602569)

    I have seen no evidence in recent history that the US constitution regulates the US government.

  • Re:What. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:48AM (#46602589)

    Corporations have grown to a size that the power and influence it has over the public is comparable to government, if not surpassing it.

    No, you just don't know your history. Large corporations have long been able to compete with sovereign states in wielding economic, military, and political power. The American Revolution was rebellion against the East India Company nearly as much as it was against King George III.

    The founding fathers were perfectly aware of the effects of megascale corporatism. Even the largest companies today have a fraction of the power the EIC did at it's peak. When Exxon starts deploying carrier battle groups around the world, then it will be comparable.

  • Re:14th Amendment (Score:5, Informative)

    by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:26AM (#46603065) Journal

    So use a different search engine. Problem solved.

    Obvious next step: "But what about people in China?"

    Obvious next answer: "The US Constitution, and it's amendments, do not apply to citizens of another sovereign country."

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:31AM (#46603133)

    Tthey could be barred from operating in this country. That isn't much but it is something.

    So, your solution to Baidu censoring searches to to censor MY access to Baidu?

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead