Sunday, April 25, 2010

Will Google Quit Singapore Next?

Google's new website spells it out":
Government requests directed to Google and YouTube
"Like other technology and communications companies, we regularly receive requests from government agencies around the world to remove content from our services, or provide information about users of our services and products. The map shows the number of requests that we received between July 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009, with certain limitations."

It goes on to say that "we know these numbers are imperfect and may not provide a complete picture of these government requests". The data shows Singapore police have so far asked for information on 62 Internet users ("data requests"), over a 6-month period between July and December 2009, and "<10 removal requests"). The company's chief legal officer David Drummond said that it "regularly receives requests from law enforcement agencies to hand over private user data." Google spokesman Dickson Seow declined to elaborate on the specifics of Singapore's requests. Seow claims that the company always tried to protect its user's privacy and therefore does not automatically comply with every such request. Singaporeans know that the Youtube video about Ho-Ching's $30 biilion loss in Temasek must have been one of those automatically complied with.

Curiously, China is conspicuously absent in the countries listed. Google explains thus, "Chinese officials consider censorship demands as state secrets, so we cannot disclose that information at this time." In other words, even though Google has decided to quit China, they are still afraid of the repercussions of dealing with that Communist country. So much for that "We will do no evil" promise.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's perspective of Google's exit? He told Charlie Rose in the April interview: "Practically nothing has happened because you can still get Google in China, except now it’s censored by the Chinese rather than by Google." But trust Charlie to have his last word on this important subject, "But on the other hand, some people are applauding Google for standing up, for Sergei Brin saying 'I don’t want to be part of this.' But you don’t agree with it?" As expected, and true to form, just as Pontius Pilate washed his hands off the dirty business, Lee declined to answer in the affirmative.

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