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Google and Twitter agree to block posts in some countries

by on02 February 2012 998 times

censorship-InternetAfter fighting the SOPA and PIPA bills in the US Congress you would think that Google is a supporter of free speech and a free and open internet. However, they appear to be going back on their unofficial motto of “don’t be evil” with a move that could be in support of removing the voice of dissent in countries where the government prevents these things.

Last year, when the uprisings in Egypt were the top of the news stories, Twitter was listed as part of the infrastructure that allowed protesters to coordinate protests and communicate with each other and the outside world.  This allowed the oppressive regime to be overthrown and a new government started.

Earlier this year Google sounded off as the lone voice against SOPA in congressional hearings. They argued that the government did not have the right to censor the internet and that doing so would undermine the very foundation that the world-wide community is built on. Google was even a player in the Internet Black out (although they did not completely black out the site they did black out their logo.

Now though both Twitter and Google are agreeing to block posts and blogs that the local governments do not agree with or are in violation of local laws. This might sound ok on the surface after all they are only obeying the laws of the countries they are in, but it goes beyond that. If Twitter had the same policies they have now during the Egyptian uprisings then much of what was accomplished would not have happened. The posts on Twitter about the government were illegal at the time.

Google on the other hand seems to think that this will actually promote free speech as the blog posts will only be invisible in one country. This really sounds farfetched and is not likely to be the way that it works in practice. It is a dangerous slope that Google is on now and one that they should remember from their dealings in China.

The Internet Freedom Group Open Net Initiative commented on Twitter’s move saying “'The change marks a new trend in American Internet companies bowing to the demands of authoritarian regimes”. Of course the reasons behind this are all business. Neither Twitter nor Google want to be shut out of all of these countries and lose the money that comes with service there. The problem will be; how will Google and Twitter react when the US government asks them to do the same things in the name of “the law”?

Considering some of the bills in the works like Open, ACTA, and a new internet snooping bill we could find these two familiar and comfortable companies turning against the internet community in a hurry.
Source: Daily Mail
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Last modified on 02 February 2012
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