The Intercept reported that all websites blocked in China—including the BBC and Wikipedia—will be unavailable via Google search, replaced by an anodyne disclaimer revealing only that “some results may have been removed due to statutory requirements.” So-called “sensitive queries” will be placed on a “blacklist,” meaning that people, topics, and photographs banned by the government will be expunged from any appearance via Google.
Chinese government organs are estimated to issue thousands of separate censorship directives annually, charging all companies with compliance under threat of severe sanction or shutdown.
In demonstrating that a company as mighty as Google was unable to resist the allure of the Chinese market, despite the terms of entry, Beijing will advance its campaign to remake global internet governance on its own terms. The utopian notion of an internet that unifies people across borders, fosters the unfettered flow of information, and allows truth and reason to triumph is already under attack on multiple fronts. The trade-off, to date, has been that countries insistent on controlling the internet have had to forfeit access to the world’s most powerful and innovative online services in favor of local providers.
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