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Google’s Fluctuating Fortunes in 2010

The last six weeks have been full of action for Google. It has pulled out of China, asked the NSA for help with security, launched Buzz and also offered 1 Gbps fiber lines to homes in the U.S. After all this, you would expect Google to have a quiet week, but this was not to be. Its latest controversy is Internet Censorship.

Pakistan blocked off YouTube videos of President Zardari telling people at a political rally to “Shut up”. Reminiscent of Thailand’s YouTube block in 2007, Pakistan proceed to block total access to the site and thereafter removed it while placing a block on the offending content. The content itself has not been removed from YouTube.

Iran was more worried about information being sent out of or circulated within the country without its permission. The prime suspect in this regard was Gmail, one of the most secure services around today which is also free. The security built into Gmail did not lend itself to the type of censorship that the Iranian Government required so it did the easy thing and denied access to it altogether. The Government has announced that it will be implementing its own email solution for its citizens soon.

While the decisions by these two countries is more or less in line with what we expect from them, the biggest shock was when Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced his plans for censoring the internet. Instead of getting the ISP’s to ban and filter material, his plan is to get Google to filter content that is not desirable to the Australian Government. Basing his request using the examples of China and Thailand and the filtering Google did for these governments, he is insisting that Google impose censorship locally for Australia as well.

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