Google’s China Credibility Goes Down Under

Company censors satirical website


Google's promise to stop censoring search results in China won the company kudos from free speech activists, but a more recent incident in Australia proves free speech isn't necessarily the company's top concern.

After searching for "Aboriginal and Encyclopedia" on Google, Steve Hodder-Watt, a descendant of the country's native population, discovered a page on oft-controversial satire site Encyclopædia Dramatica.

Hodder-Watt took legal action, and Google complied with a cease-and-desist letter that argued the page in question ran afoul of Australia's Anti-Discrimination Act.

Google now notes on its Australia site when the result would normally appear turn that an item has been removed from the search listing (not entirely removed from the Web), just as it does in China when results run afoul of that government's list of banned content.

As the (not safe for work or the easily offended) Encyclopædia Dramatica article in question now points out, it's likely going to be a moot point when Australia implements its own Australian Communications and Media Authority's Internet blacklist in its hopes of keeping its remote population from enjoying unfettered access to information on the World Wide Web.

It does go to show that Google's stated intent to no longer censor search results in China may be less a matter of concern over freedom of speech and expression in China, and more of a spiteful reaction to alleged industrial espionage possibly condoned or commissioned by the Chinese government.

Google's not the only company trying to reconcile its internal conflicts on the issue. Yahoo's statement of support for Google was contradicted over the weekend by its subsidiaries in China, with a spokesman for Yahoo-owned Alibaba calling the position "reckless."

Jackson West wonders why a country with a "Whites Only" immigration policy until 1975 is so worried about satirical Internet sites.

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