Human Rights In China tells Google it's 'not too late'

Human Rights In China (HRIC), a nonprofit organization, has called on Google Inc. to rethink its decision to offer a censored version of its search engine in China, telling the company it is “not too late for corporate leadership.”

HRIC compared Google’s recent launch of the Google.cn search engine to actions by Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp., in which Yahoo handed over information that led to the jailing of a Chinese journalist and Microsoft censored another Chinese journalist’s blog. Both incidents were widely criticized by human rights groups and proponents of free speech.

“Rather than exercising corporate leadership, these companies and others have instead engaged in ‘a race to the bottom,’ making concessions that curtail freedom of expression and access to information in China,” HRIC said in a statement on its Web site, which does not appear when searched for using Google.cn.

To illustrate how Google has censored information using the Google.cn search engine, HRIC conducted a comparison of four Google sites: Google.com in English, Google.com in Chinese, Google.cn, and Google.com.tw, the company’s Taiwanese Web site. The group conducted searches on all four sites for a range of phrases in Chinese and English.

HRIC’s comparison found that many Web sites were not found using Google.cn to search for Chinese phrases such as “human rights in China” and “death penalty,” as well as the author and title of a recently published book on former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. That book, Zhou Enlai’s Later Years by Gao Wenqian, is banned in China.

A more diverse range of Web sites were found when searching for these titles using the other three Google Web sites, HRIC said.

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