Economist editor applauds Google

Economist editor Bill Emmott has backed Google’s censored entry into
China, admitting that pages of his own magazine are sometimes torn out
by governments in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh.

Emmott
said the decision to tell users of the search engine when results had
been censored was “smart”, adding: “Chinese citizens know full well
that their government blocks certain information from them, so to them
Google’s stance would not come as a shock, and it will be helpful for
them to know when their searches have been blocked.”

For the
first time in its history, Google agreed last week to censor the
results of certain searches in its directory in order to enter the
Chinese market.

Terms such as “falun gong” and “Tian An Men
Square”, for example, throw up far fewer results in China than the rest
of the world.

There have been mixed views on the move, with some
pundits suggesting it is a negative step for the freedom of the
internet, and in direct opposition to Google’s universal access to
information ethos.

Emmott added: “My view on Google’s China
stance is that, in the search business, it is better for them to be
there, helping Chinese people become better informed, than not to be
there at all.

“The Economist would not publish a compromised or censored version of the magazine in order to get into China.

However,
if the authorities tear out a page of an issue to censor it, we do not
then withdraw the whole copy on grounds that it is tainted: as the
censorship would be plain to anyone who saw it, no one would think we
were somehow trimming our sails (as we wouldn’t be).”

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