Google CEO Criticizes Chinese Internet Censorship

By: Qichen Zhang on 11 November 2010

Last week, Google CEO Eric Schmidt criticized the Chinese government’s continued efforts to censor Internet content in the country at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Calling attention to a year-long dispute between Google and China concerning search engine results and filtering on behalf of the Chinese government, Schmidt made a prediction of Chinese citizens’ desire for a freer Internet experience, saying:

“Ultimately, the people will win over the government. The yearning is so strong... When you get to a billion phones, it’s very difficult [for the Chinese government] to keep up with that.”

Simultaneously, the Internet entrepreneur also reinforced that Google intends to “get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”

Google’s rocky relationship with the developing nation has extended to as far back as 2006, when the company announced that it would resolve to work together with the Chinese Communist Party in providing search content on, subsequently inciting criticism of their compliance. After a series of email hacks in January 2010, Google posted on their blog about their intention to “review the feasibility” of their business operations in the China, stating, “We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.” And this past summer, Google nearly failed in their attempt to renew their Chinese operating license after becoming wrapped up in a battle against the government about censorship (negotiations began moving again when Google agreed to stop redirecting requests to the search engine's Hong Kong portal after Chinese officials refused to relent on their filtering stance).

This comes in light of Schmidt addressing privacy concerns with another controversial public response. In October 2010, German Internet users raised protests against their houses becoming photographically displayed on Google Maps Street View with the service's launch planned for November. Despite the concerns, the Street View apparatus debuted in Germany earlier this month, although some houses were blurred, according to Deutsche Welle. The same article mentioned that no legislative action has been taken against Google yet, with Google Germany Spokesperson Lena Wagner claiming:

“We haven't heard anything from politicians or [data protection authorities].”

In response to these concerns, Schmidt appeared on CNN in an interview with Parker Spitzer and reportedly said that Germans worried about their homes appearing on Google Maps “can just move.”

For more information, visit the official Google blog.