The incipient hypocrisy of Vint Cerf – Google and web censorship

On the one hand, Vint Cerf, a Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google, says that it is a mistake to divorce what was seen online from what happens in the real world:

“Most of the content on the network is contributed by the users of the internet,” he said. “So what we’re seeing on the net is a reflection of the society we live in.”

“Maybe it is important for us to look at that society and try to do something about what’s happening, what we are seeing

He added: “When you have a problem in the mirror you do not fix the mirror, you fix that which is reflected in the mirror.

“We have a job to do, collectively as a society, to deal with the problems we discover in the network,” said Mr Cerf, “but suppressing the knowledge of what’s going isn’t going to help us.

Less than 2 weeks after he made these comments on BBC Radio 4 (click here to listen to the interview), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expressed its condemnation and dismay at Google’s censorship deal with the Thai government.

IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said the move sets a dangerous precedent, which could have global implications for freedom of expression.

“There is a clear potential for abuse of people’s right to information, which seems much more likely now Google has demonstrated its willingness to collude with governments to effectively censor information,” Park said.

“Freedom of expression has already been curtailed in Thailand, and electronic media looked to be improving the level of discussion of the country’s public life – but with the new cyber crimes laws, Thais can now face jail for visiting websites deemed inappropriate,” Park said.

Clearly, Google’s Don’t Be Evil slogan and Cerf’s pronouncements fall far short of their actions in Thailand and also earlier in China.

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