More than a dozen human rights groups have urged Google in an open letter not to censor its search function as it expands into the China market, calling the Silicon Valley giant’s plans “an alarming capitulation.”
More than a dozen groups signed a letter on Tuesday urging Google to challenge the Chinese government’s censorship and surveillance policies as it gets set to launch its search app in the country. The letter called the company’s working with the government on a censored search app “an alarming capitulation by Google on human rights.”
The letter reminds Google that the Chinese government violates the expression and privacy rights of their citizens. As a consequence, Google opting to censor its products in the country could be seen as support of the government’s regressive policies. “The Chinese government extensively violates the rights to freedom of expression and privacy; by accommodating the Chinese authorities’ repression of dissent, Google would be actively participating in those violations for millions of internet users in China,” the letter says.
In a response statement, Google pushed back, saying that they’ve “been investing for many years to help Chinese users, from developing Android, through mobile apps such as Google Translate and Files Go, and our developer tools. But our work on search has been exploratory, and we are not close to launching a search product in China.”
The groups that signed the letter include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders.
Meanwhile, Google is facing domestic charges of censorship. President Trump accused several social media companies of censorship in a series of tweets on Tuesday.
Google search results for “Trump News” shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal? 96% of…results on “Trump News” are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous. Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!
It is unclear exactly how the president plans to address these issues.
A tweet from Axios’ Jonathan Swan claims that Trump took a stance on social media censorship after coming across two articles published by Breitbart News.
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) August 28, 2018