…when writing about Google and China:

As of now (still early morning in Beijing), Google.com.hk is accessible from mainland China although specific search results for sensitive terms result in a browser error – or in other words, are blocked. Same as it’s always been for sensitive searches on Google.com from inside mainland China. This is network filtering and would happen automatically as part of the “great firewall” Internet filtering system.

via Glenn Reynolds who put me to shame.

Oh BTW I’ve been calling Rebecca MacKinnon the free speech diva since I was blogging at Hiwired, to my knowledge nobody else does. They should.

…she points out on Morning Joe that google gets only 1 1/2% of its revenue from China and has struggled there. She must have read this Wall Street Journal article on the subject.

So Apparently google is making lemonade out of lemons here. A pretty smart move.

Then again it doesn’t change the fact that it is the right thing to do so I’ll give them kudos anyway for taking the road less traveled by, as the Journal says:

Google is trying to continue to offer search services to Chinese users outside the purview of mainland Chinese law, a strategy that few other companies, even those who have expressed growing frustrations with doing business in China, are likely to follow. Google appears to be setting itself up to fight China’s rules on its own and to manage what is likely to continue to be a complicated relationship with Beijing as it tries to ensure the government allows it to maintain some of its operations in the country. “This is an elegant solution if it were to hold, but I’m not convinced China will allow this to continue,” said John Palfrey, an Internet scholar at Harvard Law School.

Could it also be that Google sees that China’s bubble might be ready to burst too? If so such a move has even greater rewards long term.

They attack anything that facilitates the uncensored passing of information among people they rule:

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has announced that he now considers Twitter messages and social networking as terrorist threats. He is quoted in this Spanish-language news report as calling for more state control over the internet.

via who else but Glenn.

Meanwhile on the China Google front my favorite Free Speech Diva continues to speak up concerning China. And she describers her dream speech on the subject:

My dream speech would be about how the Internet poses a challenge to all governments and most companies (except those companies like Google whose business is built around that challenge). I would call on all governments to work together with citizens, companies and each other to build a globally interconnected, free and open network that enhances the lives of everybody on the planet, enables commerce and innovation by big and small players alike, makes everybody richer and freer, and improves all governments’ relations with their citizens by making government more transparent, efficient, and thus more credible and legitimate.

I would quote Benjamin Franklin, who wrote in 1759: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

The speech would remind us all that all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and that American democracy was built on this assumption. The Internet empowers governments and law enforcement agencies as well as citizens, upstart candidates, and dissidents.

Somebody ought to write a book about that. If you care about free speech then you should be reading Rebecca MacKinnon.

Sean Penn
could not be reached for comment.

Way back in the hiwired blog days I put up these posts concerning China and google when they first agreed to censor the net for China, contrary to their “Do no Evil policy”.

We covered China a lot in the HiWired blog days (and kudos to the bosses at HiWired back then for letting us do it) , in those days Yahoo and Microsoft were the primary villains.

Now Google may have had enough enough:

We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that “we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China.”

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.

The statement is good but time will tell if it actually means anything.

Lileks tweats it best

Google lies down with dogs, wakes, does search for “flea treatment”

Nobody is telling me that they didn’t know stuff like this was going to happen or going on. I think that Plausible deniability just didn’t exist this time.

I hope I’m wrong, I hope it’s a real wake-up call but time will have to tell

First his assertion that problems can’t get solved unless the US and China agrees. This is a foolish statement, that suggests that we have to get Chinese approval or corporation on any move we want to make. Really dumb statement.

Now if we can get them to help on things fine but to suggest that without them we can’t solve problems is just nonsense.

Secondly he is talking about the freedom of the internet and how a totally free internet is a plus, he explained that an uncensored internet forces him to hear opinions that he might not agree with. Considering his administration’s full scales attacks on Fox News and Rush Limbaugh his statement is a real joke.

I swear to God this guy doesn’t believe that videotape, google or youtube exist.

We are rapidly reaching the point were it isn’t worth listening to what he has to say since rational people will assume he will be speaking idiocy.

Remember we did this to ourselves, the government we deserve.

…known to everyone else in the world as Rebecca MacKinnon at the Rconversation blog. I must confess I’ve been thinking about my own issues but I thought I’d check up on how thing are going in China:

It ain’t pretty:

….the crackdown is broad and deep, and shows no sign of ending. In May, 20 civil rights lawyers who had defended Tibetans, Falun Gong members, and other politically sensitive clients were effectively disbarred. In July the licenses of another 53 lawyers were revoked. On the same day as Xu’s detention, security officials raided the office of Yi Ren Ping, a non-governmental organization dedicated to fighting discrimination, and confiscated all copies of its latest newsletter on grounds that they don’t have a publishing license. A number of people involved with a citizens’ effort to collect information about children who died in the Sichuan earthquake and raise questions about shoddy construction of schools have been arrested. Earthquate survivor He Hongchun was convicted for disturbing social order. Huang Qi, who reported online about the plight of children who died in the quate, went on trial this week for disclosing state secrets; the court’s ruling has yet to be announced. According to Human Rights in China a key witness was kidnapped and prevented from appearing in court to testify for Huang’s defence. Tan Zuoren, an activist who conducted an investigation into the reasons why so many school buildings collapsed in the quake, is scheduled to go on trial for state subversion next week.

Attacks on free speech and civil rights in China didn’t stop just because nobody decides to complain about them anymore. Our free speech diva isn’t going to keep quiet about it. She and maybe Jay Nordlinger will keep reminding us, although she will do it from the lion’s den.

The UK Daily Mail reminds us of the reality of what is going on:

This year, it’s been a game of cat and mouse to evade the secret police and the surveillance cameras so we can meet the survivors of the Tiananmen massacre and hear what happened to them.

It shouldn’t be. Last year, the Chinese announced during the Olympics that foreign journalists would be free to work anywhere in the country – they needed only to apply for a ‘ journalist visa’.

We applied – as a BBC documentary team – but heard nothing for months. Our only option was to travel on a tourist visa.

Just beyond the border crossing at Shenzhen, policemen shouted, yelped into their radios and waved white-gloved hands in the camera lens: clearly, old habits die hard.

Arriving at our hotel in Chengdu in western China, I spotted a man beetling through the front door towards us, talking into his radio. A friendly porter? No, he interrogated our driver about our plans.

The next day I realised that the authorities were going to be really persistent when two plainclothes policemen popped up in the middle of a field of brilliant yellow rapeseed, focusing their binoculars on us from just a hundred yards away.

China can pretend that this never happened and can repress any who wish to talk about it, however the fact that China is a bloody repressive state is a fact and until the day comes when China acknowledges that this will be so.