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JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 3286
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 00:42

How many governments are blocking Google?


Search giant admits that 25 governments are now censoring Google content

While it comes as no surprise to anyone that China is blocking Google perhaps you might be at least a little bemused to discover that it is not the only government to get the Google blues.

Indeed, according to Rachel Whetstone, Vice President, Global Communications and Public Affairs with Google, censorship of the web and of Google itself is a growing problem.

Writing on the official Google Policy Europe blog, Whetstone claims that the increased government censorship of the web is "undoubtedly driven" by the record numbers of people with access to it.

She warns that "even benign intentions can result in the specter of real censorship" and goes on to explain that the more repressive of regimes are building firewalls and "cracking down on dissent online."

According to the Open Net Initiative there were only four or so governments that were censoring the Internet back in 2002. Just eight years later and that number has risen to a total of more than 40.

Whetstone admits that Google products, including search, blogging and YouTube, have now been blocked in 25 of the 100 countries where they are offered.

More on next page, including why Google thinks those governments are breaking the Universal Declaration of Human Rights...

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, in Article 19, that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

Whetstone argues that while nobody wants to see child pornography, for example, online the kind of new government restrictions being seen "strike at the heart of an open Internet" and also violate Article 19.

Google specifically states that it does not want to engage in political censorship, especially in countries like China and Vietnam that "do not have democratic processes through which citizens can challenge censorship mandates" and will always carefully evaluate whether it establishes a physical presence in "countries where political censorship is likely to happen."

Whetstone concludes "we have spirited debates about the right course of action, whether it's about our own content policies or the extent to which we resist a government request. In the end, we rely on the principles that sit at the heart of everything we do."

Perhaps it is wishful thinking for governments to operate under a Do No Evil policy, especially those most likely to be doing the censoring...

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