Okay, so I failed to update my blog in the last three days. Sorry! (In my defense, I never promised a daily posting schedule. That TASP essay will have to wait, however.)
What I have learned over the last few days:
-German trains run like clockwork. In the sense of a rusted, mangled pile of unstable machinery less accurate than a sundial at midnight.
-Even though 1 Euro is approximately 1.6 USD, prices are actually 1.6 times more expensive in units of currency, meaning something worth $10 USD here is sold for something like $16 Euro on the other side of the Atlantic.
-China is fucktarded.
When Google announced its censorship compliance policy with the Chinese Government back in January 2006, a huge barrage of criticism befell the company and their stocks dropped massively, with Congress comparing Google to “Nazi collaborators”. Although sites that showed up in Google’s search results were already censored by China’s content-filtering firewall, the newly-established Google.cn would voluntarily blacklist results so that they wouldn’t even show up in the search engine, much less be accessible to the users, arguably equivalent to Google bowing down and licking China’s boots for the sake of profit.
Just what kind of content is censored by the Chinese, anyways? Political statements against Communism, information critical of massive Chinese screwups like the Great Leap ForwardBackward, porn, and anything endangering “national security” or “honor of the state” (Fascism much? See “PRC Domestic Laws and Regulations: National Security and State Secrets” section under this).
Conveniently, “information endangering national security” is defined as pretty much everything(中文). That definition, ostensibly, includes the price of cabbages on the second Friday of July and the shape of the Chinese flag, meaning the police can just yell “SURPRISE ARREST!” and throw you in jail for 20 years for no apparent reason if they just didn’t like you.
Various “sensitive” terms censored by Google in the past include: “Taiwan independence”, “Facebook”, “democracy”, “tank man”, and “Hatsune Miku“.
So with Google’s history of subservience to the Communist regime, the recent decision that they finally had enough of this censorship fiasco likely came as a surprise to many. Tales of Google threatening to withdraw their operations from China have also been circulating, though the final fate of Google China remains unclear at this moment.
The actual “last straw” sparking the fallout is a coordinated attack attempt on the Gmail accounts of human rights activists. Government-sponsored hacking is not really something new, since Chinese manufacturers have been known to pre-install trojans and keyloggers on their products and hack into the Pentagon on a regular basis. While the Chinese government denies any involvement with the recent incident, keep in mind that they have also denied a bunch of other things in the past…
What will happen to Google now that their relations with the Chinese have deteriorated? The rejection of censorship is certainly a step in the right direction, but the actual implications of this move may not be as colossal as the media outlet makes it out to be. Only about 15% of Chinese net users actually use Google, with the majority instead opting to use the meticulously censored Chinese search engine, Baidu. Since “objectionable” results are normally inaccessible on both outlets regardless of censorship, Google’s new policy will do little to alleviate the problem of information restriction in China. A pissed-off Chinese government might just block Google.com; after all, Youtube, Wikipedia, CNN, and WordPress.com (including this very blog) have already been blocked, amongst many others.
As of January 15 the Chinese State Security Council has been conferencing in order to decide “how to punish Google”(中文). GYARGH. What are they, 12? The best way to respond to Google for not giving the world free access to people’s private email accounts is to…punish them? Unbelievable! How are they supposed to carry out said punishment if Google is not even a Chinese company? May I suggest that Chinese officials think about what they’re saying before the whole world gets wind of it…
(As of the time of writing (January 17, 2010, 3:00 PM) Google.cn is still active and merrily censoring its search. Perhaps once the media hype dies down we’ll actually hear some conclusive results. At the very least, we now know that Google won’t surrender your private info to the government on demand…)
*Note: External links may occasionally point to non-English sites. They have been marked with foreign language tags such as “(中文)”. Sorry! Google Translate if you must.