Google Hits More Snags In China

Google issued an apology after receiving criticism that a tool it released last week for inputting Chinese characters into a search query appeared to copy's approach.

Mary Hayes Weier, Contributor

April 9, 2007

2 Min Read

Google has run into more obstacles in what's proving to be a frustrating attempt to grow its presence in China.

Google on Monday issued an apology to a Chinese Web portal company after receiving criticism that a tool it released last week for inputting Chinese characters into a search query appeared to copy Sohu's approach, according to the Associated Press.

In a statement, Google said, "We are willing to face up to our mistake, and offer an apology to users and to the Sohu company," according to the AP.

Meanwhile, a Google shareholder group in New York last week submitted a proposal to ban censorship and protect personal identities in human-rights challenged countries, according to a company proxy filing. While the proposal is unlikely to be approved by Google board members at its annual shareholders' meeting on May 10, it once again puts company execs in the uncomfortable position of trying to explain how they intend to grow an information-oriented business in certain countries while maintaing its "do no evil" motto.

Google was widely criticized last year after it worked with the Chinese government to ensure its search engine in China,, limited results to searches on the Dalai Lama, human rights, and other topics.

The Office of Comptroller of New York City, which oversees retirement plans for city employees, teachers, police officers, and firefighters, is proposing that company executives institute the following "minimum standards" to protect freedom of Internet access in such countries as Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam:

  1. Data that can identify individual users shouldn't be hosted in Internet restricting countries, where political speech can be treated as a crime by the legal system.

  2. The company will not engage in pro-active censorship.

    The company will use all legal means to resist demands for censorship. The company will only comply with such demands if required to do so through legally binding procedures.

    Users will be clearly informed when the company has acceded to legally binding government requests to filter or otherwise censor content that the user is trying to access.

    Users should be informed about the company's data retention practices, and the ways in which their data is shared with third parties.

    The company will document all cases where legally binding censorship requests have been complied with, and that information will be publicly available.

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