back to article Google to Commies: We’ll make censorship illegal

Google is working with the US government to try to make it illegal for countries to censor the Internet by using international trade rules. The ad broker’s communications head, Robert Boorstin, told a Media Access Project audience in DC that Google “believes very strongly, as do other companies, that censorship is a trade …


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  1. Il Midga di Macaroni

    Please succeed. Please.

    Of course it will take another ten years for the WTO to put pressure on countries like China to stop censoring, but in the meantime, people like Mr Conroy who want to start censoring Australia's internet users will sit up and take notice.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      But Google is "Creepy"

      Since Conroy is on the record with a "Google is Creepy" quote, It will be easy for him not to take this seriously.

      The Sad truth in Australia is, to get rid of this mob of destructive control freaks, we need to vote for the, openly controlling/religious nutters. God only knows what they'll proclaim their mandate is, once they're elected.

    2. Steve Roper
      Thumb Up

      What a bloody good idea

      Australia already has a Free Trade Agreement in place with the US. How fantastic it would be if we could make a case against Conjob's censorship bill for being in violation of the FTA.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Yeah right

    In countries like China, the state policy controls industry. No lobby group(google or any media copyright group) is likely to dent Chinese policy in the short term or in the long term. USA lost control and influence long time ago. Any resolution by WTO(which would probably be years away) would be too feeble against an already very powerful and nonchalant Chinese regime.

  3. Rattus Rattus

    Thank you, Google

    Now, has anyone thought to drop off a note at Stephen Conroy's office? Don't bother sending him email about it, I think his portal's blocked to stop all the spams and scams.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Very interesting...

    Google has grown large enough to directly affect internal affairs of sovereign nations?

    Not that I particularly object to internet freedom, quite the contrary, but the fact that such an important issue can be affected by a single corporate entity, frankly, scares the bytes out of me.

    Anonymous, because...

    (user was banned from the internets by google for this post)

  5. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    Meh. Online gambling, anyone?

    Populist handwaving, that's all. Move along, nothing to see here.

  6. yossarianuk
    Thumb Up

    You can't argue here

    Whatever motives/benefits google has for doing this the end result could be such a good thing for all of us.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    I always have to laugh...

    ...when the US and free trade / trade barriers are uttered in the same sentence....

    It's only free trade when it doesn't affect US (and EU come to that) manufacturers.

    pot meet kettle, he wants his black back.

    1. Barry O'Connell
      Thumb Up

      Too right

      Even in the internet space they have massive barriers to free trade; especially around gambling online.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Free trade and globalization are tools...

      being used to break Unions in developed countries.

      At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I have to wonder if this wasn't part of a long term plan. Freetrade/globalization was started, or at least, strongly promoted by a conservative, Republican, US President.

  8. rpjs

    What sort of censorship?

    I mean, pols all over the "free" and not-even-pretending-to-be-free worlds have been falling over themselves to ban internet smut recently

  9. PerfectBlue

    COMMIES? get serious


    Oh come on, who are they trying to kid? People who band about terms like that do themselves no credit.

    Google's either going to have an impossible time and end up with legislation that is so weak that it will be useless, or it's going to bring in the world's most hypocritical legislation.

    It's pretty obvious that this is targeting China. Well, let's look at things. China IS a monumental censor. It censors everything. But a considerable amount of what it censors it censors legally. For example, the very same state censors that censor news articles about democracy also censor pornography and gambling website. So instantly any legislation aimed at China would have to have multiple get out clauses as there is no way that the WTO would put in place laws that overruled a country's domestic laws on sex and gambling. Especially given that Australia and South Africa are both trying to ban most internet porn, and that the UK has just brought in a raft of anti-porn rules, too.

    Then there's "violent extremists". The WTO could not bring in legislation that prevented the censorship of violent extremist website. Well, China HAS experienced buts of extreme violence from Tibetan monks and there are weekly bomb/grenade attacks by separatists in the Muslim West of China. Admittedly, both parties are the victims of Chinese genocide and so have a right to be angry. But China could well use any get out clauses in legislation to continue to censor calls for Tibetan independence or independence for the Muslim regions.

    It is the same with Taiwan. There are Taiwanese who've called for the three gouges dam to be bombed. Which would be like setting of a nuclear bomb for the amount of death and destruction that it would cause. Which would also allow China to continue censoring pro Taiwanese websites.

    Dito for Tiananmen Square. Under domestic law the students were violent extremists. The WTO wouldn't be able to override censorship of this, either.

    Already you'd have a WTO regulation that is toothless when concerned with the big issues.

    Any legislation that would be tight enough to effect China (or the big censors) in any meaningful way would also hit France and Germany's ban promoting the Nazi, as well as efforts to stop extreme forms of pornography such as those involving torture or children in countries with different ages of consent. It could also hit court ordered publication bans in the US (such as bans on publishing detail of certain trials or criminal cases, as well as efforts to get violent extremists and terrorists off of the net.

    You'd end up with a piece of legislation that would effectively strip states (including the US) of their ability to police the internet.

    Much as I am against state censorship and state control of the internet, even I must grudgingly admit that there's stuff that should be kept off of the internet.

    1. Saganhill

      "stuff the should be kept off the internet?"

      And what would 'YOU" keep off the internet? The only thing I can say that should be kept off and ONE thing only is Child exploytation. But thats already illegal in the real world so to play that card is redundant.

      What would you keep off the internet? I personally cant think of anything. I can tell you right now that once you start censoring anything it becomes a snowball effect and it will eventually take everything else with it. Banning and censorship are for weak people and governments who have trouble looking at the truth.

  10. Andy 75

    Beware of what you ask for

    The problem with asking for an end to all censorship on the Internet is that different places allow different things.

    Legal age of marriage in some countries is still in the barely-teens which means that in theory they could provide plenty of footage of "consenting parties" where one of both are rather young by our (western world commonly accepted) moral standards.

    Instructions on making weapons of various types may well also be legal elsewhere but give the lone nutcase a much greater potential for damage.

    Do we want all of that and more to be freely available?

    Not that I'm sure what the answer is as censorship, especially where what is being censored isn't transparently visible, is also repugnant.

    My guess is we'll eventually end up with an international grading system similar to films and computer games. Stuff going up on the Internet is classified as "Uncategorised" by default and can be vetted somewhere against an international standard to get a category.

    Countries can then decide what they want to do with the various categories. The problem is we'll also end up with categories sites being owned by clearly identifiable people since a big stick needs to be available for people who swap the contents of a site after it's categorised.

  11. Alien Doctor 1.1

    We are not all the same (culturally)...

    America - online gambling, arresting, fining and imprisoning British gambling site owners

    Somalia - world cup, music etc etc

    Israel - most forms of criticism


    We are a planet of sovereign nations with our own ideas and ideals for moral, ethical and entertainment standards; I for one will fight any attempt by the arrogant and hypocritical yanks in trying to foist more of their own stupid ideas onto other countries under the semblance of "free trade" or WTO rules.

    Once the "powers" finally recognise we are not an homogenised planet of 6 billion (plus) consumers - there are millions of us that eschew that "lifestyle choice" - then perhaps those of us without political/economic power (99% with how many more "9"'s after the decimal point?) far outweigh the idiots that try to shape our lives for their own pet neurological disorders.

    Sorry - too many beers, waffling, I hope a part of the point was made - it seemed good to me at the time.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    We'll get right to it...

    ...but first we need to deal with this censoring of access to gambling sites that's still not been fixed. Let me see, who was the defendant again?

  13. Dazed and Confused

    so where do you draw the line?

    So are Google saying that no censorship should be allowed?

    All governments around the world believe in censorship to some extent.

    The US Government has a thing about non US gambling sites.

    They get a bit upitty about encryption too.

    How would they propose dealing with someone publishing the details of how to decode the latest Hollywood out pourings or satellite channels.

    Do they believe in censoring the designs for the latest generation of thermo-nuclear warheads? Or even simple bomb making equipment. Hell Americans have the legal right to bare arms, but what would they make of a home made rocket launcher that can take down a Jumbo Jet at cruising altitude?

    All sort of Governments around the world don't like porn, even when all those involved are over the local age of consent. That is even before you get onto the normal hobby horse of the pro-censorship lobbyists, porn where the "victims" are under age.

    I think very few people would agree that all censorship is bad.

    Where do you want the line drawn.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Ooo, I think I can guess this one.

      "....but what would they make of a home made rocket launcher that can take down a Jumbo Jet at cruising altitude?"

      Not sure, but I suspect that legislation for a defined Jumbo Jet season would be in there somewhere.

  14. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Re Very interesting .... AC Posted Tuesday 15th June 2010 04:05 GMT

    "Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.“ .... Donald Rumsfeld

    There are also of course the knowing unknowns which extract a heavy toll and fabulous danegeld price to compensate with due just reward/overdue payment, Irregular Privateers and/or Unconventional Pirates who would be stealthily providing Beta Bridged Novel Communications System with AI which Virtual Captures ALL SMART Currencies for XSSive Wealth Generation in Future Power Control Operating Systems with Present Phormation ProgramMING Protocols. ....... although there is always freely available the option for Dire Strait Distressed Great Game players to presume and assume a pseudo-lead with a surprise outrageous investment in Semantic Proxies...... XSSXXXXPerienced in ITs Innovative Field Methodology ...... AIMeme.

    "Anonymous, because...

    (user was banned from the internets by google for this post)" ..... Being banned from Google with the Internet stealing your information and baying words is another bum trip, AC, which only creates fantastic explosive bubbles for exploding with countless clustered bomblets elsewhere, AC.

    And if Google are interested in Running the World Virtually with AI Better Beta Algorithm and Alienating Realisation Methodologies, will they have the cojones to declare an interest or with a silence, extraordinarily render themselves incompetent in such searching fields.

    Pregnant Pauses are somewhat different though and are fully tolerated and waited upon expectantly, with hope springing eternal to their aid.

  15. mhenriday
    Thumb Down

    Once again, Google is allowing itself -

    most eagerly, it would seem - to enter into a marriage of convenience with the US State Department - complaining loudly about censorship on the part of the «bad guys», but routinely ignoring that performed by the «good guys». Doing so may, of course, go over well in Washington, where the regulatory agencies with most purchase on the company's activities are located, but it strikes me as unlikely that others will be equally impressed. My suggestion would that Google should concentrate its efforts on the engineering rather than the legal/lobbying end of the spectrum, and continue to offer its users - of whom I am happy to be one - continual improvements to its excellent products....


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