WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a letter to Google, Inc's Chairman and CEO, Dr. Eric Schmidt, Institute on Religion and Public Policy President Joseph K. Grieboski decried the decision of Google, Inc to self- censor its Chinese language website.
"The decision by Google Inc. to acquiesce to Chinese government policy contradicts the freedom of information ideology that Google Inc. has embraced throughout the world since its inception," Mr. Grieboski stated in the letter. "With a censored Google website, only propaganda speaking against minority groups will circulate, expurgating any unbiased information from the Chinese public and further forcing underground faiths to smuggle information out of the country."
The voluntary concessions laid out on Tuesday by Google, which is launching a China-based search site as it officially enters the market, would parallel similar self-censorship already practiced there by most multinationals and domestic players. Homegrown giants like Sohu.com Inc. and Baidu.com Inc., along with China sites operated by Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft, all routinely block searches on politically sensitive terms such as the Falun Gong spiritual movement and Taiwan independence.
"Google has long been a champion of the free flow of ideas and information. In its 'Ten Things Google has Found to be True,' the company stresses that 'the need for information crosses all borders,' 'democracy on the web works,' and that there is an ability to make money 'without doing evil,'" the letter continued. "With Google, Inc.'s self-censorship agreement in China, it has violated its own body of beliefs. There will be no information without borders, no democracy of the internet; instead, Google has turned its back on freedom of information in favor of profits."
"As your own philosophy states, 'There's always more information out there.' It would be in the best interest of not only Google but also the Chinese people for your company to educate itself further on the hardships faced by so many in China. Google could be the leader of a free distribution of all information, not just that which provides financial benefit. For if this agreement remains as is, the only information 'out there' will be information the Chinese government deems acceptable," the letter concluded.
In an interview with Fortune Magazine, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said that he believed Google is "doing the right thing" with their work in China.
"We ultimately made a difficult decision, but we felt that by participating there, and making our services more available, even if not to the 100 percent that we ideally would like, that it will be better for Chinese Web users, because ultimately they would get more information, though not quite all of it."
He also noted how Google blocks content in the US when it receives a DMCA request; the search engine also blocks queries for Nazi-related topics in Germany and France.