9.8. THE GREAT CHINESE FIREWALL

In the fall of 2002, the Chinese government began blocking access to Google and a few other search engines. These engines contained various ways of finding information the Chinese authorities wanted to keep from its citizens. Within two weeks, the service was restored, because, according to some sources, Chinese citizens were outraged by the blockage. Now when Chinese searchers click on a banned link, they are directed instead to a government-approved site.

When Google reentered the China market—which is 230 million people—the company decided to abide by government censorship restrictions, despite an outcry from many that the company was giving in to a government that abused human rights.

Sergey Brin admitted that it was legitimate for Google to refuse to do business in China, given the circumstances. But, he added, there was an alternative path. Give the Chinese people at least some access to information, even though in some ways it would be limited. In addition to Google.cn, the official site, Brin noted that the Chinese people also have the option of logging on to Google.com, where the information would be uncensored but the service would be much slower. At last tally, the majority of Chinese Web surfers were choosing the slower but more informative service.

"We think we have made a reasonable decision, though we cannot be sure it will ultimately be proven to be the best one," Brin said. "We've begun a process that we hope will better serve our ...

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