Seems like google is having a bad week. Not only is it having to stand up to a federal government subpoena to turn over a week’s worth of search data, it is now having to fend off criticism for caving in to Chinese Government demands that it censor sensitive sites (covering issues such as human rights and Tibet) from search results returned from its .cn site.
Personally, I don’t get the big deal.
If the government wants data which has been stripped of all personal references such as IP addresses, why should privacy become an issue? The other factor is of course Google’s trade secrets, which it fears might be compromised as a result of releasing all the search data. This is probably a more valid point but whether it is sufficient cause to block the government request is debatable, and depends on the manner in which the data will be handled by the government.
With regards to the China controversy, a more balanced view point is presented in this article by BBC correspondent Bill Thompson. His argument is that it would be better for Google to be involved in China to some extent (even if it involves a little “flexibility”) than to be totally excluded from such technologically and socially formative years in China. In any case, Google is not the first US tech company to conform to China’s censorship rules – both MSN and Yahoo follow the same censorship guidelines in China, yet no one seems to have raised so much as a peep in protest. Google at least inserts a notice on the search page informing the reader that pages have been filtered from the returned results.