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Yahoo vs. Google: Who’s the Chinese government’s very best buddy?

Rebecca Mackinnon has the goods on Yahoo. By going through proxies, she’s discovered that Yahoo, unlike Google, actively censors results. For example, if you search for “Tiananmen massacre” (in Chinese) with either Yahoo or Google within China, you get no results. But if you do the same search by getting to the Chinese versions of the search engines but without using Chinese ISPs, you get results from Google but not from Yahoo. Conclusion: Chinese ISPs filter out results from Google, but Chinese Yahoo does the dirty work itself. So, if you’re in China and manage to find a way past your local totalitarian ISPs, Yahoo still won’t give you results, but Google will. Or, as Rebecca more clearly puts it:

What do these screenshots illustrate? They show that Yahoo! actively filters politically sensitive terms from within its own service. Even if a Chinese user finds a way to access Yahoo from outside China or via a foreign proxy server, they will still get filtered search results on politically sensitive terms. By contrast, Google does not actively filter. The filtering of Google search results is done only by the Chinese ISP… although Google helps hide this process from Chinese users by choosing not to show results that the Chinese user would be unable to access.

I understand that life is complex. I would have been happy to read that Google had decided not to do business with China, but I am fine with Google’s decision to engage there. Likewise for Yahoo. And once you’re doing business in a country, you have to follow its laws. We would accept no less of a foreign company doing business in the US. But someone in Yahoo got a list of search terms the Chinese want blocked. They looked down the list and saw “Tiananmen Massacre,” “Dalai Lama,” “Falun Gong,” and maybe “democracy.” “Yup,” this person thought, “Our product can do that. No problemo.” Thus Yahoo wrote into its code the repressive values of the Chinese government. More important, it actively sealed off a way for the Chinese people to route around fascism.

As a netizen, I’d like to hear from Yahoo about why they took this particular step. And then I’d like to hear about what they’re doing about it.

(Here‘s a report on the sites China filters)

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2 Responses to “Yahoo vs. Google: Who’s the Chinese government’s very best buddy?”

  1. I would like to thank all the nerds out there who are so skilled and dilligent at exposing the evils of corporate co-opperation even sponsorship of oppresion around the world. The right wing wants to give credit to Ronald Reagan for the collapse of communism in the former Soviet State. The truth is that freedom of information on the WWW is far more resposible. Aside from the unimaginable stupidity of the communist leadership of that era; the net brought them down. This will be the inevitable fate of the murders of Bejing with your help. Let’s not take our eyes off the real enemy to freedom evrywhere. It’s expediency $$$$$$$ the uncontroled growth of corporate power globaly is the greatest fear. The United States is on the verge of a catastrophy in this regard. The Bush administration and the corporate thugs in congress are using every form of treachery, deciet, and subterfuge to render our democratic process impotent. if they succeed we will all pay the price. “Slavery”.

  2. I too have been angry with Google and have the page indicated above suggesting a course of action which we in the Western world might persue to cause Google to think again about aiding a government so totally uncaring of human rights.

    I have been gratified to find that some of Google’s major shareholders are now requesting Google to take a more moral approach in the future.

    I am indebted to Rebecca Mackinnon for showing us that Yahoo’s behaviour has been even worse than Googles in their censoring of Internet search results.

    Anything for a quick buck it seems with these companies. Never mind that our forces are daily putting themselves in harms way trying to bring freedom and democracy to people.

    Enough of these companies double standards. Use another search engine. Try not to spend a dime with companies who align themselves with censorship of the Net.

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