Summary: Reports that Google and Microsoft will not attend hearings into censorship by U.S. companies operating in China only make the companies look worse.

TOPICS: Censorship

There is a report on CNN that Google will not send an executive to upcoming an Congressional hearings caucus on the censorship of Chinese search results. The company will, however, send a written statement. Cuffed

I imagine it is going to be something like: "Dear Congress: Sorry about the censorship, but we don't talk about it with governments that invite us politely to a public discussion hearing. We only talk about it with the totalitarian regimes that threaten us. Thanks for all the freedoms you provide us as a U.S.-based company." 

Look Sergey, Larry and, you too, Bill G, you guys talked with the Chinese government enough to come up with a "compromise" on freedom of access to information and freedom of expression. You even came up with an "evil scale" which I'd very much like to see if only for the shock value. For example, where does kiddie porn fall on the scale relative to birth control information and political dissent? Does the same evil curve apply in all countries or is your morality totally relative?

Talk with our government, too. We—your customers—would like to hear the debate somewhere outside the World Economic Forum, which isn't famous for its tough questions.

UPDATE: Google, Microsoft send regrets to Congress confirmed. They will send some representatives to a hearing on Feb. 15, but there's no indication who will represent the companies.

Topic: Censorship

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  • You're right, Mitch

    They are cowards for not talking to our govt. leaders. And it's a crying shame that Google censored so many of its' services we take for granted here. Sergey, Larry, and Bill Gates should have took the high road and refused to do business in China until the PRC loosens up.

    And yet, Google, Yahoo, and M$ bow down to the Great Firewall just to make a dollar. Instead of "Do No Evil", how about "Liberty or death" as a better motto for Google?
    Tony Agudo
  • Not hearings, caucus

    I'm confused. My sense of the material that you link to is that all four companies say they will have representatives at the hearings on February 15.

    My understanding is that the caucus meeting this week is not a legislative function, even though it is sponsored by a number of legislators.

    If I had to choose, I would certainly avoid the caucus, which strikes me as a pulpit with its own agenda and none of the safeguards, such as they are, of legislative hearings: Opportunities to submit written statements for the record, recording and transcript available as public record, and a certain deliberative approach to things.

    You may find it cowardly to avoid the caucus, but I suspect that others think presence would not be courageous, merely stupid.
    • So, you think being subpoenaed would be better?

      At the time I wrote the posting, the companies were taking the
      position that they would not attend That seems to be confirmed
      now, and I provided a link in the update to the story.

      I don't see how participating in a discussion with public officials
      would be a bad move when the alternative is for Congress to issue
      subpoenaes for the companies to appear, which makes them
      appear both uncooperative and, in many minds, guilty of
      Mitch Ratcliffe
      • No Subpoena power

        I still think we are confusing two different events. The official hearings, before a Congressional subcommittee with subpoena power, is on February 15. The caucus meeting on February 2 has no legal standing or authority whatsoever.

        The companies have declined to come to the caucus-sponsored event. All reports I've seen confirm that they have all agreed to appear before the official February 15 event. So subpoenas appear to be unnecessary.
        • I haven't seen any confirmation they'll attend the hearings

          could you point to something that indicates they will?
          Mitch Ratcliffe
          • Indication of Attendance

            'Mary Osako, a Yahoo spokeswoman, said about Congress: "We take this matter very seriously and look forward to addressing the issues raised by the subcommittee on Feb. 15."' From the Chron,

            'Cisco said it couldn't send an executive for scheduling reasons but will send someone to a related Feb. 15 hearing. Yahoo and Google also said they plan to send representatives at that time. Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.'
            Declan Mcullagh yesterday,

            I saw other mentions on Sunday but they seem to be swamped by later material. I'll post more if I can find them again.
          • Remains to be seen...

            The Google and MSN attendance is still sketchy. I think they could
            do more for their public face by joining informal meetings as well
            as formal hearings.
            Mitch Ratcliffe
  • Don't gripe

    Instead of griping about google do what I did when I heard of what oogle is doing for the Chinse government.
    Remove Google from your computer.
    It has stopped being a reliable search engine.
  • Traitor Google

    China is the Enemy of the United States.
    Shame on you Google