“At Google, we have a bias in favor of people’s right to free expression. Google is not and should not become the central arbiter of what does and does not appear on the Web. That’s for elected governments and courts to decide.” — Google Director for Israel Meir Brand on why the company they would not censor anti-Semitism from their search results for Israeli searchers.
At this point, it would take a mashup of Wittgenstein, Quantum mechanics and LSD to make sense of Google’s various explanations for what it will and won’t censor and why. The fact that the first sentence is entirely contradicted by the third sentence does not appear to have bothered the speaker one bit.
Google in China, for instance, has censored itself to satisfy authorities in Beijing, restricting searcher access to “sensitive topics” like Taiwan and 1989’s Tiananmen Square massacre. In Germany and Austria, Google removes Nazi content in order to comply with national censorship laws.
Meanwhile, Yahoo — no slouch itself when it comes to splitting linguistic atoms — has decided they’d rather pay than fight. The company settled out of court yesterday with the families of two journalists jailed by after Yahoo gave the Chinese government information about the two men. In Yahoo’s defense — and this ain’t saying much — the company never claimed either that A) You can make money without doing evil or B) Democracy on the web works.