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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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  • Re:What. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by iserlohn ( 49556 ) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:23AM (#46602295) Homepage

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

    What good is the first amendment if private entities providing essential information services to the public can effective bypass the right for people to be heard?

  • Re:What. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by operagost ( 62405 ) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:28AM (#46602355) Homepage Journal

    Because telling businesses what information they must provide to the public is the same as the old unconstitutional "fairness doctrine". Would you like to require that Rachel Maddow have Sean Hannity on her show every night to rebut her points? If a search engine is providing biased results, don't use it. Providing FALSE information could be a problem, as that would be libel.

    I don't understand why I have to explain this on a forum that's populated by teens and adults. You can't use your rights to infringe on others' rights.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:35AM (#46602437)

    You should actually read the first ten amendments sometime. The way they are written

    Congress shall make no law...

    When the founding fathers wrote this, they intended to for the states to be able to pass laws restricting freedom of speech and religion.

  • Re:What. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:35AM (#46602443)

    Freedom of speech doesn't mean I have to give you my microphone.

  • by schneidafunk ( 795759 ) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:37AM (#46602459)

    The whole point of freedom of speech is to allow people you disagree with to say (or write) what they want. If the westboro church can protest soldier funerals, this ruling should be a no brainer. The search engine is writing the search results in a biased way but the judge has ruled that is free speech. Fine with me... now back to searching on google.

  • by grumpyman ( 849537 ) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:43AM (#46602523)
    It's really not that... a private company does not have obligation to provide a unfiltered/non-curated/fair search engine. It's like Fox News website - that's the "best information" for you, they think.
  • by thaylin ( 555395 ) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:47AM (#46602577)
    You are apparently not an American, as evidenced by your lack of understanding of our founding fathers and their writing of the constitution. Private individuals, or corporations, are not bound by the constitution, only the government is. If we were to bound private individuals it would run counter to everything they stood for. In other words, if you force private people/corporations to say what they dont wanna say then you dont have a democracy or a free people.
  • Re: 14th Amendment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by therealkevinkretz ( 1585825 ) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:49AM (#46602599)

    "Should"? Says who, you? If I want to launch a web site with a map proclaiming that Nova Scotia is now Kevinland, you think I should be forcibly prevented from doing so?

  • Re:14th Amendment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:53AM (#46602643) Journal

    If you bought such a map, providing you didn't muck it up, in most places you could seek a refund.

    There are over two centuries of 1st Amendment jurisprudence that backs the notion that private interests have very wide latitudes in free expression.

  • by hessian ( 467078 ) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:53AM (#46602649) Homepage Journal

    This ruling makes sense when you consider the alternative:

    Government would have to police each search engine to make sure it was permitting full free speech.

    Then, the potential for abuse is huge. Government could simply drop something -- like, say, far-right information -- off the list and allow it to be censored while claiming it was legally not censorship.

    Government could also force search engines to incorporate other information that is favored by government, and penalize them if that information didn't make it high in the rankings.

    We don't want government in the business of determining what "free speech" is in legal terms.

  • what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:08AM (#46602869)

    It can most certainly be applied to a business operating under the jurisdiction of the United States, the same way Google is expected to conform to the Chinese government's censorship requests to operate within their country. That's not American centrist thinking, that's just a logical way to assume businesses operate.

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

    by AlecC ( 512609 ) <> on Friday March 28, 2014 @12:31PM (#46603777)

    Why? The free market applies. If you don't like the goods one merchant supplies, find another. It is not as if search engines are state licensed or limited. It seems to me that by your logic, you can sue any publisher who decides not to publish your crappy book on the ground of inhibiting your free speech.

  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Friday March 28, 2014 @01:03PM (#46604173) Homepage Journal

    The founding fathers of the United States of America were NOT supporters of Democracy as they knew from history and experience that Democracy leads to Oligarchy. Instead they founded a Republic!!!

    Perhaps the first post with a long list of replies should learn about US founding history.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas