Google might be calling it quits in China after a number of problems plaguing the search engine giant over there, namely repeated targeted email attacks and conflicts with the Chinese government over searchable content. Google has found itself caught in the middle of a free speech battle. According to the New York Times, the Goog made an arrangement in 2006 with the Chinese government to censor its Chinese search results on specified banned topics. But a lot of critics are upset with the company for ever making such a deal and "abetting a system" that restricts what people can search for and read online. Then in December, the computer security systems of at least 20 companies, including Google, were targeted in an email attack in which hackers might have obtained private data and software source codes. Thus, Google has made a statement attesting that the attack originated in China and that they believe that the "primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail … [Read more...] about Google might shut down China offices after problems with hacker assaults, government censorship
Google's report on government censorship, take-down, and user data requests has received quite a bit of attention today, primarily focused on the uptick in US federal requests to the search giant. But are we blowing it out of proportion? Billions of people use Google and hundreds of millions create or post content on its services. As usage of Google's services grows, so too we should expect take-down and data requests to increase, right? That's true to some extent. The more content there is, the more any particular government will have to sort through and find things that might be objectionable. The uptick we're seeing is, to some extent, an artifact of increased volume rather than increased government scrutiny. That being said, this isn't going to be my usual, "privacy is dead, whatever, stop posting things online you don't want read" mantra. In fact, this is a big deal. I can live with Google using my information to make more money. They provide lots of awesome services that I use … [Read more...] about Google government censorship and transparency: How big a deal are 6000 requests?
Any Web user is familiar with the 404 Page Not Found error message that appears on broken links. And some of us have happened upon the more mysterious ‘403 Forbidden’ error. But now, a digital rights group from the United Kingdom has launched a campaign this week to add yet another error message to the mix: ‘451 Unavailable,’ to be used anytime a webpage or website is blocked by a government for legal reasons.Evoking the anticensorship message of late author Ray Bradbury’s famous novel Fahrenheit 451, the 451 Unavailable campaign is the brainchild of Open Rights Group (ORG), a U.K.-based public advocacy group that seeks to defend free speech and consumer rights on the Internet.As the group explains on the 451 Unavailable website, governments may require Internet Service Providers to block access to certain websites for a variety of reasons. “In the UK, this is usually because the websites contain material that infringes copyright. In other parts … [Read more...] about ‘451 Unavailable’ error: Campaign seeks to expose government censorship of the Web
Government censorship of the Web, including attempts from Western democracies to silent political speech, rose significantly during the second half of 2011, according to the most recent data released by Google. Of the 1007 requests from governments around the world to take down content, including YouTube videos and search results, Google complied with more than half of them.Google has also seen a jump in government requests for users’ private data, with the U.S. government issuing more than 6,000 such requests.News of a spike in censorship and user data requests from governments around the world comes with the release of the biannual Google Transparency Report, first launched in 2010, which Google posted online late Sunday night.The reasons for, and nature of, the censorship request vary widely: defamation, hate speech, pornography, privacy and security, national security, impersonation, electoral law, copyright infringement, and that forever-vauge category … [Read more...] about Google: U.S. government censorship, private user data requests on the rise
Google is taking an unusual tack on Internet censorship. The search engine giant has decided that censorship is a trade barrier, and wants the U.S. government todo something about it as an economic, rather than political, issue. According to the company, one of their representatives had met several times with members of the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to address the issue. Given Google’s business model, which is driven by ads, their take on censorship becomes moreunderstandable. If a Google page isn’t displayed, there are no ads, and no income. But it seems as if the government isn’t convinced that censorship has created trade barriers. Aspokesperson from the USTR said that censorship is treaded as a human rights issue, and comes under the State Department. Of course, Google itself has come under fire for agreeing to censorits Chinese site, although the company has stated that this was the only way the Chinese government would … [Read more...] about Google Seeks Government Censorship Help
After exploring the market for years, LinkedIn is formally entering China with a new beta site that will adhere to the nation's strict rules on online censorship.The new Chinese language site, called Lingying, launched on Monday and hopes to tap over 140 million professionals living in the country, LinkedIn said in a company blog post.The professional social networking site has been eyeing the Chinese market, where it already has four million members. But until Monday LinkedIn had largely been an English-language site to users in the country.By launching the site, the company has also agreed to follow China's controversial regulations on censorship. Those rules generally require local sites to filter out politically sensitive content, either by deleting user posts, curtailing certain searches or shutting down user accounts.On Monday, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner wrote in a blog post that the company supports free speech and disagrees with government censorship. But after discussing the … [Read more...] about LinkedIn opens Chinese-language site, agrees to rules on censorship
The social networking site LinkedIn has been blocked in China, a move that analysts say is tied to Chinese government efforts to suppress mention of a "Jasmine Revolution" on the Internet.On Friday morning, LinkedIn was inaccessible from Beijing, producing an error message. Linkedin confirmed via email that the site has been blocked for some users in China. "This appears to be part of a broader effort in China going on right now, involving other sites as well," said Hani Durzy, a Linkedin spokesman.Internet censorship is prevalent in China. Content and websites deemed politically sensitive are routinely taken down or blocked. But in the past several weeks, government censorship has grown more restrictive following mass protests in the Middle East that have toppled governments there. The term "Jasmine Revolution" refers to the pro-democratic movement that began in Tunisia last December and spread to other Middle Eastern countries.Calls on the Internet for China to stage their own … [Read more...] about China blocks LinkedIn, ramps up Internet censorship
In an interview with The Guardian, Google employee Tim Bray said that he's recommending to the Internet Engineering Task Force to use error code 451 when a website is blocked by the government.For those who don't recognize the symbolism, the number pays homage to the late Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451 which was first published in 1950. The story warned of a dystopian world defined by government-imposed censorship which arrived in the form of burning any house that contained books."We can never do away entirely with legal restrictions on freedom of speech," Bray said. "On the other hand, I feel that when such restrictions are imposed, they should be done so transparently; for example, most civilized people find Britain’s system of superinjunctions loathsome and terrifying." "While we may agree on the existence of certain restrictions, we should be nervous whenever we do it; thus the reference to the dystopian vision of Fahrenheit 451 may be helpful," he added. "Also, since … [Read more...] about Googler Wants Error 451 for Government Censorship
While China’s social media users are at home spending time with their families for the Spring Festival holiday, the rest of the world is busy trying to make sense of what happened to Sina Weibo. Engagement on the popular social network has dropped like a rock, and no one is quite sure why. Get the Free Tracker App to find a SNES Classic in Stock Sina Weibo is a microblogging service that was being hailed as a revolution for China’s internet just a few years ago. Following its launch in the summer of 2009, Weibo grew quickly, attracting hundreds of millions of users. Users loved its brevity and the speed at which it could transmit information. Western pundits loved the way it seemed to be subverting China’s censorship system, which wasn’t quick enough to respond to the absolute torrent of messages Weibo could unleash when high-profile events like the Wenzhou high speed rail crash were unfolding. Investors loved it because it gave Sina a foothold in … [Read more...] about The Demise Of Sina Weibo: Censorship Or Evolution?
Facebook has reportedly developed a software tool that will help keep certain content away from users’ news feeds in certain geographies, reflecting the company’s apparent willingness to meet Chinese government censorship demands part of the way.The social networking site has been banned in China since 2009 because of the government’s censorship rules and like many other U.S. technology companies would like to reenter the market with nearly 1.4 billion people.CEO Mark Zuckerberg has learned Mandarin, visited the country often and cultivated the local leadership including President Xi Jinping.The new tool suppresses posts from appearing to people in certain geographies but will not be used directly by Facebook, reported The New York Times on Tuesday, citing three current and former Facebook employees, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the tool is confidential.The software will instead enable a partner, most likely a Chinese company, to monitor popular stories and … [Read more...] about Facebook said to create censorship tool to enter China again