Google cofounder Sergey Brin on Tuesday admitted that he thought Google had compromised its principles in cooperating with the Chinese government’s censorship efforts, and said the search giant is still deciding whether to continue operating its services in the country, the Associated Press reports via the New York Post.
Brin told reporters in Washington, D.C., that Google cooperated with the Chinese government only after threats that it would block all Google services if the company did not comply with specific censorship demands, according to the AP. Brin was speaking of the company’s Google.cn search engine, which filters out content the Chinese government finds offensive, such as mentions of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
“We felt perhaps we could compromise our principles but provide more information to the Chinese and be a more effective service and perhaps make more of a difference,” Brin said, according to the AP.
Brin made the trip to D.C. to meet with lawmakers to request that they OK a plan that would prevent telephone and cable service providers from imposing fees on companies like Google and Microsoft for speedier delivery of their various services, according to the AP.
The Paris-based journalists’ advocacy group Reporters Without Borders on Tuesday issued a release blasting Google for its business practices in China, and noted that Google.com is now blocked in the majority of China’s provinces.
“It was only to be expected that Google.com would be gradually sidelined after the censored version was launched in January,” said a Reporters Without Borders spokesperson. “Google has just definitively joined the club of western companies that comply with online censorship in China.”
The press advocacy group also noted that software designed to circumvent the Google.com block is now difficult to use, and in turn, less effective.
In Washington, Brin said Google is attempting to improve the quality of the Google.cn search engine before it makes its next move, according to the AP.
“It’s perfectly reasonable to do something different, to say, ‘Look, we’re going to stand by the principle against censorship and we won’t actually operate there,’ ” Brin said, according to the AP. “That’s an alternative path. It’s not where we chose to go right now, but I can see how people came to different conclusions about doing the right thing.”
On the other side of the coin, Google has in recent months fended off efforts by the U.S. Department of Justice to obtain search records for use in its investigation of online child pornography.
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