China’s Internet is open. Except when it isn’t. China’s foreign ministry made the first claim Thursday following Google’s suggestion this week that it might pull out of China. But as I’ve said previously, the conflicting reality to these statements is often painfully obvious, at least outside China.
I was reminded of my trip to Beijing, for example, where for some reason the BBC was unavailable for my entire visit. More recently our systems team was perplexed as to why a single image wasn’t showing on the site we were developing. It turned out the (Chinese bought) software one our team was using had a firewall blocking access to file names with the word defence in (the picture file name included this word).
But before anyone is too quick to praise Google for taking a stand on censorship, blogger and author Nicholas Carr has a very interesting take on Google’s possibly less than pure motivations.
‘If Google had not, as it revealed in its announcement, “detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China,” there’s no reason to believe it would have altered its policy of censoring search results to fit the wishes of the Chinese authorities. It was the attack, not a sudden burst of righteousness, that spurred Google’s action.’