Thursday, February 14, 2008

Excerpt from London Times Report on Suit by Chinese Citizen Over Search Engine Censorship

A former Chinese university professor who was dismissed after he founded a democratic opposition party, plans to sue Yahoo! and Google in the United States for blocking his name from search results in China.

Guo Quan, an expert on classical Chinese literature and the 1937 Nanjing massacre of Chinese civilians by Japanese troops, last week issued an open letter pledging to bring a lawsuit against Google after he discovered that his name had been excised in searches of its portal in China.

He told The Times that he had now found that the Chinese Yahoo! site had also blocked his name and he planned to bring actions against both companies. Mr Guo said: “Since January 1 a lot of friends told me that websites with my name had been closed. They told me it's impossible to search for my information on Google and Yahoo!”

It is not the first incidence of censorship of foreign internet portals operating in China. Google came in for widespread criticism and accusations of colluding when it became known that its search engine in China had been configured to filter out words that are effectively banned in China, such as Tibet independence, Dalai Lama and democracy.

Google and other foreign internet service providers defend their actions, saying that they are acting in accordance with Chinese law and the conditions of doing business in China. The country's carefully patrolled internet firewall slows, blocks or disrupts users trying to access uncensored foreign websites. Mr Guo said that he could not sue Google or Yahoo! in China since they have no formal legal identity, but he would press his lawsuits against the parent companies in the United States. “They have infringed my right to my name, and also the rights of anyone called Guo Quan because you can find no information for this name.

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