Google Gets Damned

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There has been much recent news about China’s plan to introduce, by dictat, an internet filtering software on all computers sold in China (Damn dam! RT @China_Daily: Green Dam live date ‘unchanged’ http://tinyurl.com/m2g6pj 6:49 PM Jun 22nd).

This has been seen as a problem for both manufacturers and consumers, who want greater freedom to decide what goes onto their machines (not to mention where they go with them thereafter), and many of whom have concerns over the integrity and monopoly of the imposed product. Despite this, China Daily reports that plan is to go ahead:

    “China will not back away from its July 1 launch date for the controversial anti-pornography computer filter Green Dam Youth Escort, a Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) source said.

    The assertion followed criticism from the US embassy in Beijing about the software’s potential impact on trade and about technical issues that called into question the program’s efficacy.

    The Chinese government is calling for Green Dam software, which limits access to violent and pornographic websites, to be included with all computers sold on the Chinese mainland starting July 1.[*UPDATE BELOW*]

    “The US government is concerned about Green Dam, both in terms of its potential impact on trade and the serious technical issues raised by use of the software,” a US embassy spokesperson said”.

Meanwhile, Google hit a bit of a dam itself as it went offline in China. According to AP:

    “Internet users in China were unable to access search giant Google Inc.’s main Web site or its Chinese service, and the company said Thursday it was investigating.

    The outage came after the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center last week accused Google of providing links to vulgar and obscene sites…

    The outage began late Wednesday and affected Google’s main site, its Gmail.com e-mail service and its China-based site, Google.cn. On Thursday, all three were accessible from a computer in Beijing, but users in two other cities said they could not open Google’s main site or Gmail.”

Google will also be limiting its results in future (BBC: Google to cut China porn results http://bit.ly/JOLWI1 2:24 PM Jun 22nd). The BBC reported:

    “We are undertaking a thorough review of our service and taking all necessary steps to fix any problems with our results,” said Google’s communications director, John Pinette, in a statement.”

So much for Google, which has struggled to compete with the local market leader in China, Baidu.

Baidu, the local hero, seems to have escaped from the worst of the crackdown, as noted in the Week (warning: link contains some edited images).

Charges of protectionism and censorship are flying around cyberspace. With this, and other, protectionist news coming out of China recently, companies are well advised to keep their political and regulatory risk profiles under review – and to think carefully about management (and crisis management) of their public profiles.

It is yet to be seen how joined up the Chinese government is (it isn’t always) in regard to these plans, and whether bigger issues will emerge. We’ll be watching.

**All change! Internal conflict? RT @ftchina: China puts Green Dam web filter on hold http://tinyurl.com/noa2sn

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