Google in China
2006 | Case No. P54
Using servers located in the United States, Google began offering a Chinese-language version of Google.com in 2000. The site, however, was frequently unavailable or slow because of censoring by the Chinese government. After extensive debate within the company, Google decided to offer a modified version of their site, Google.cn, using servers in China. This case explores how Google and various foreign Internet companies entering the Chinese market responded to Internet censorship. Companies offering internet services had to pledge not to circulate information that “damages the honor or interests of the state” or “disturbs the public order or destroys public stability.” Google.cn did not include features that allowed users to provide content—it offered neither e-mail nor the ability to create blogs since user-generated material could be seized by the Chinese government, putting individuals in jeopardy of being arrested. Google planned to exercise self-censorship, conform to Chinese laws, and be thoughtful about the services it provided. Along with other internet companies, however, Google faced severe criticism and political pressure in the United States for what was seen as cooperating with Chinese Government censorship. Google had to decide whether to change its operating policies and what to do about the criticisms.
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