There’s a good article online (it will appear in this coming Sunday’s New York Times Magazine) about Google’s operations in China and the decisions they made on how to deal with the Chinese government’s censorship of controversial topics. It shows some of the issues that Internet companies wanting to do business have to deal with, and how Google came up with some creative solutions.
Brin and his team decided that if they were going to be forced to censor the results for a search for “Tiananmen Square,” then they would put a disclaimer at the top of the search results on google.cn explaining that information had been removed in accordance with Chinese law. When Chinese users search for forbidden terms, Brin said, “they can notice what’s missing, or at least notice the local control.” It is precisely the solution you’d expect from a computer scientist: the absence of information is a type of information. (Google displays similar disclaimers in France and Germany, where they strip out links to pro-Nazi Web sites.)