Reporters Without Borders today condemned the action of the Chinese authorities in blocking access to Google’s news website, Google News, for the past ten days or so, starting a few weeks after the launch of an expurgated Chinese-language version of Google News.
The press freedom organisation also urged the US company to react by stopping the filtering of its Chinese-language site and opening it to the news banned by Beijing.
"China is censoring Google News to force Internet users to use the Chinese version of the site which has been purged of the most critical news reports," Reporters Without Borders said. "By agreeing to launch a news service that excludes publications disliked by the government, Google has let itself be used by Beijing."
"The US company is therefore partly to blame, but it still has a chance to ally itself with those who defend press freedom," the organisation said, adding that it has sent its request to Google’s head of corporate ethics, Andrew McLaughlin.
Google News (www.news.google.com) compiles content published by some 4,500 news providers and it is one of the 20 most visited news sites in the world (source: Nielsen/NetRatings).
Launched in September, the Chinese version has been the subject of considerable controversy. So that it would not be blocked, Google agreed not to list news published by such sites as the pro-Falungong Epoch Times (www.epochtimes.com) and Voice of America (www.voanews.com). Defending their action, Google News executives such as McLaughlin cited the need to guarantee quality of service for their users and said there was no point posting links to sites blocked by the Chinese filters.
Reporters Without Borders has often condemned the ethical shortcomings of US Internet-sector companies operating in China, especially Yahoo! and Cisco Systems. It has for several months also been urging the socially responsible investment fund ISR to pressure these companies to modify their business practices.
For more information about Reporters Without Borders’s initiatives in this area, go to :
Google - Yahoo market battle
Reporters Without Border challenges 14 major Internet and computer firms about their activity in China