Google Versus Governments

Google has been in the news a lot lately, and most of its recent media coverage has involved the company’s wrangles with two of the most powerful governments in the world: the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China. And if that weren’t enough, it seems to be heading for a conflict with the European Union (EU) over Internet regulation (more on that in a minute).


The first instance involved the company’s denial to share its search records with investigators from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ has sought that data to help it enforce Child Online Protection Act, which is designed to keep young people from accessing obscene material via the Internet. Google co-founder Sergey Brin said his organization has an obligation to protect its users’ privacy rights, and that it would resist the DOJ’s request through legal channels. The first test will come on Feb. 27, when a federal judge will review Google’s decision at a hearing in San Jose, Calif.


Google’s issues with China stem from censorship. The Chinese government would not permit the search engine to be used by citizens of that country unless Google agreed to expurgate Web pages deemed subversive to the state. Finally, after years of deliberation, the company relented recently. The new www.google.cn will limit users’ access to Web sites that deal with sensitive topics such as Taiwan, Tibet and the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre as well as seemingly innocuous content such…


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