Posted March 26, 2009 10:45 am by with 6 comments

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Remember all the discussion of China and its approach to the Internet that was heard around the Beijing youtube-logoOlympics? It seems that a lot of that type of coverage has slid into the background until recently. Apparently once Google gets involved these items become news again.

At this moment China’s Internet users cannot view YouTube. The Chinese government claims that it had nothing to do with the outage but its timing with the airing of footage on YouTube of detained Tibetan protesters being beaten seems a bit more than a coincidence to the rest of the thinking world.

Google’s take on this is

Google spokesman Scott Rubin told that it is still working to bring its video-sharing site back online and identify the cause of the outage.

The Internet News article goes into the specifics of this incident very well. Some highlights include:

  • According to the Global Network Initiative at least a dozen countries with less than pristine human rights records have blocked YouTube access since 2007
  • The Chinese government calls the videos fraudulent and does not say that the outage is due to government activity
  • The CTA (Central Tibetan Administration) is accused of a propaganda campaign that coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan national uprising

All of this interesting in the context of how most of us view the Internet. With Internet access comes the freedom to do and please with it however you want. I can watch videos and interviews that are anti US government all day long if I choose to waste my time doing that. How many more police brutality videos can you see as well. No one is stopping us from doing any of this. What’s China afraid of? Is it fearful that the rest of the world will discover their human rights violations? News alert – That cat’s been out of the bag for a long time.

So back to the Internet marketing part of this. It ties back to us ever being able to truly engage in Internet commerce with a country that will shut down access to whatever it is threatened by. Do we want to do business with them? Of course, for many the allure of a billion or so potential customers may override any human rights concerns. Many companies (US government included) still do business with countries that are blatantly in violation of human rights.

So does this even mean anything at all to the rest of the world? If Google and YouTube can’t work in China will Google just abandon their efforts there? Not likely. There are too many people there.

  • In the past Google has helped play a role in censoring the internet from the Chinese people at the request of the Chinese government. But they aren’t alone.

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  • Think the reality from what i have found in China is that certain areas are more prown to censorship then others. Those that have more ties with west, like nearer Hong Kong or Shanghai are actaully less restricted then rest of main land China.

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  • Interesting, China has some problems but less than many other countries.

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  • Very interesting, China has some problems. But what a powerhouse

  • I think there is an important lesson to be learned here. Much like a child in history class who learns for the first time that Americans have more freedom than most of the world, we should appreciate our online freedom too. We definitely take being free to surf the internet at will for granted. The publicity of China’s internet system could be good for teaching us that surfing the internet is a privilege, not a right.

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