From The Financial Times:
China's been acting funny recently. This latest push-back against Google coupled with the Green Dam self-censoring computer project has me worried about the direction the Chinese internet is going.
Image from Gordonchoi.com
China has ordered Google to suspend part of its search operations on its local website, in a show of force which could disrupt the company’s growth in the country and underscores the political risks of operating in China.
State media said on Friday that the authorities had “punished” Google China for linking to pornographic content. On Thursday, in a “law enforcement talk”, the government announced that Google China would be punished with orders to suspend foreign webpage searches and automated keywords, Xinhua, the official news agency, and China Central Television, the main state broadcaster, said.
Google confirmed that it met with government representatives “to discuss problems with the Google.cn service and its serving of pornographic images and content based on foreign language searches.” The company added that it was undertaking a thorough review of its service and said it believed it had addressed the large majority of the problem results.
The government has been clamping down on various internet sites for months in the name of a campaign against ‘vulgar’ online content. But on Thursday, the authorities took the unusual step of accusing only Google of allowing links to lurid content, although similar content was easily found through Baidu, its local rival which holds 59 per cent market share.
“If these restrictions are kept up for more than a few days, they will have a huge impact on Google’s business in China,” said Edward Yu, chief executive of Analysys, an internet research firm in Beijing.
Today's Google episode seems to be coming out of thin air. The vulgar content charge is spurious at best. As the article pointed out, similar content to Google's came up on searches of Baidu, China's largest, home-grown search engine.
This dispute with Google is surely being viewed as an opportunity to both restrict the flow of information and berate of a foreign company. A win-win indeed!