Monday, April 16, 2007

Googling is good for you

An interesting read on measures Google is taking to protect privacy.

By Ben Charny, MarketWatch
Last Update: 4:19 PM ET Apr 4, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Google Inc.'s board of directors
recommended Wednesday that the company's shareholders vote against a
proposal to bar the company from any "proactive" censorship efforts.
The board's opinion came to light in materials Google filed with
securities regulators concerning its May 10 annual shareholders
Google did not explain why its board recommends shareholders vote down
the anticensorship proposal from the Office of the Comptroller of New
York City, which is a trustee of pension funds that have invested in
486,000 Google shares.
A representative for Google did not respond to an e-mail seeking
comment for this article.

The proposal would prohibit Google from storing user information it
collects in countries that restrict Internet access -- making it
harder for local authorities to get at the information.
The proposal also calls for Google to inform its users when it does
cede to government requests to censor its search results or other
"Technology companies in the United States have failed to develop
adequate standards by which they can conduct business with
authoritarian governments while protecting human rights to freedom of
speech and freedom of expression," the proposal reads.
To a large degree, the Google board's stance illustrates the
complicated position on censorship the company has as it expands
On the one hand, censoring Internet search results runs afoul of
Google's core goal of organizing and disseminating all of the world's
information. Yet in order to do so, it says it must abide by varying
degrees of censorship worldwide.
Perhaps the best known example of this tightrope Google's walking
occurred in China, where Google abided by a government request to
censor information to get a business license.
This conflict crystallized even more so on Wednesday, when Google's
YouTube video site said that the government of Thailand's is blocking
the site after it was used to air an unflattering video of its king.
In a statement, a YouTube spokesman suggested that the company may be
planning to fight the decision.
"We are disappointed that YouTube has been blocked in Thailand, and we
are currently looking into the matter," the spokesman said. End of
Ben Charny is a MarketWatch reporter based in San Francisco.

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