Will the Broadcast Nets Hold Google to Account for Hypocrisy on Internet Rights?
On the Jan. 19, "NBC Nightly News," introducing a story on Google's refusal to comply with a subpoena for Web search records, anchor Brian Williams alerted viewers to "a developing story in this country tonight that involves the collision of technology and privacy...The giant and successful search engine company has been subpoenaed by the Justice Department. They want to see exactly what people are searching for."
Fifteen additional reports graced the newscasts of the broadcast networks since then, according to a Nexis search, most of these focusing on the concerns of privacy advocates who fear overreaching by the Bush administration.
Five days later, the Associated Press reported that Google will censor Web sites the Chinese government deems objectionable:
Online search engine leader Google Inc. has agreed to censor its results in China, adhering to the country's free-speech restrictions in return for better access in the Internet's fastest growing major market...
Because of government barriers set up to suppress information, Google users in China have been blocked from using the search engine or encountered lengthy delays in response time. The troubles have frustrated many Chinese users, hobbling Google's efforts to expand its market share. China already has more than 100 million Web surfers, and the audience is expected to swell substantially.
To obtain the Chinese license, Google agreed to omit content that the country's government finds objectionable. Google will base its censorship decisions on guidance from Chinese government officials.
So far a Nexis search has turned up nothing on the networks.
Something tells me I shouldn't hold my breath waiting for the broadcast networks to air critics of Google's hypocrisy, like former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney.
"I have to ask the question: Are these companies, and Google comes to mind, putting up more of a fight to provide assistance to our government in protecting Americans than they are to [resist] Communist China? ... My guess is the answer is yes," the Christian Science Monitor quoted Gaffney in the Jan. 26 paper.
UPDATE: Clay Waters of MRC's TimesWatch.org has a related Google story here.