Skip to comments.Study Tallies Sites Blocked by Google, Nazi pages banned in France, Germany
Posted on 10/26/2002 7:36:59 AM PDT by syriacus
Google, the popular Internet search engine, has excluded more than 100 Web sites from the French and German versions of its index under pressure from those nations' governments, a new study has found.
The sites include many devoted to white supremacist philosophy and Nazism, with names like Jew Watch. Ben Edelman, who did the research, said "they are mostly pretty terrible pages."
Mr. Edelman wrote the study with Jonathan Zittrain, a co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. They said that the issue of Internet blocking and filtering raised questions about the ability of governments to censor the Internet. Government efforts to filter or block Internet traffic are on the rise, and include recent attempts by France, still in court, to force Yahoo to remove auctions featuring Nazi memorabilia. Google was also blocked last month by China, which diverted queries for Google to other sites the government deemed friendlier.
Mr. Edelman said that the blocking efforts sometimes seemed out of date; at least one Scandinavian site that was devoted to white supremacy has changed its focus since being blocked and is now a Chinese-language site dedicated to legal questions, he said.
Mr. Edelman and Professor Zittrain, who published their report at cyber.law.harvard.edu/filtering, have asked volunteers to help them compare the Google directories in various countries to discover other examples of filtering.
In a statement yesterday, Google said that it removed sites "that may conflict with local laws" from the German and French versions of its index "to avoid legal liability," and that it did so case by case, after receiving notices or complaints from "partners, users, government agencies, and the like," taking action only after careful consideration.
The company said that this was a common practice among search engines and "has no effect on the results presented on other Google sites."
Silent blocking leaves Google users with no indication of what information is being withheld, Professor Zittrain said, adding: "People don't know what they don't know."
"This is like terra incognita right now," he said. "There are not settled norms and practices for how Google should be dealing with these requests. This is the moment to try to frame a consistent set of practices that make sense, rather than doing it by the seat of the pants."
Perhaps some pages should be banned, but I worry that it will be harder for researchers to get important (aka, dam*ing) information on some of the evildoer groups.
Some of the Islamicist sites have been helpful to me in finding interesting connections between notorious individuals, even though I haven't found anything groundbreaking. I like to know the option exists for evildoers to accidentally reveal too much about themselves. What if the public had not had access to Kaczinski's diatribe?
Especially if this is more of the "sweep it under the rug and we don't have to deal with it" mentality that Germany and France so apparently favor.
Blocking access through search engines is simply cosmetic surgery.
and it may come in our life times.
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