China’s Google Block Sparks Media Group’s Protest from InternetNews.com (spotted
via Search Engine Guide) brings confirmation from Google that China is indeed blocking
non-Chinese versions of its Google News service.
This comes after Google omitted content from the Chinese language version of Google News
saying it was in the best interest of Chinese users, since they
wouldn’t be able to reach some sources due to China’s own blocking.
Reporters Without Borders slams both China for doing the blocking and Google for doing filtering on the
Chinese edition of its service. The group has previously criticized Google competitor Yahoo for filtering
and more recently complained about practices by both companies.
Google denies that it is filtering any web content. Any blocks are put on by China itself. And
in once recent example I examined, what someone assumed was censorship looked to me to be just a misunderstanding of how Google works. More here:
More Chinese Censorship At Google? I Think Not.
Google, like other companies, has to follow the laws of the countries where it operates in. That’s why it is forced to filter content in places like France, Germany
and the United States — something that attracts nowhere near the attention and outrage that actions in China generate.
In the US, Google at least partially discloses when material has been omitted, as I covered here: Got
To Censor Search Listings? Why Not Disclose? But material removed voluntarily, such as for spamming reasons, isn’t disclosed.
It seems well overdue for Google to do two things.
First, if China isn’t forcing Google to omit material, then stop the voluntary dropping of some news sources. So what if Chinese users can’t actually reach them? At
least you can disclose in the results that they may not be able to reach some sources due to the Chinese government’s actions, which raises awareness.
Second, Google (and all search engines) should provide disclosure in some way of all material that’s been removed, whether forced to for legal reasons or through
voluntary actions. That would go a long way to building trust with searchers.