Google’s Hypocrisy on Censorship

Today NLPC released a letter to members of Google logoCongress responding to a letter from a Google front group called the Open Internet Coalition (OIC). The June 29th OIC letter raised concerns about the use of new technologies like deep packet inspection which the group argued could be used by governments to “spy on Internet communications, censor speech and prevent grassroots democratic activism and free expression.” The letter called for Congressional hearings on the deployment of such technologies.

In our response, we pointed out the hypocrisy of a Google front group calling for regulation of new technologies that can hypothetically be used to subvert free expression, when Google itself has already implemented technologies that do the very same thing in countries like China. Click here to download a four-page pdf of the letter.

I pointed out that it’s some of the very “edge providers” that OIC holds up as “innovators” who have repeatedly been criticized for not only violating user privacy, but for collaborating with repressive regimes to stifle democratic activism and free expression.

The hypocrisy of Google-led coalitions like the Open Internet Coalition pushing for rules against censorship is astounding. Google is already shutting down free speech and democratic activism in places like China, as its ongoing filtering of information makes abundantly clear. Google and other ‘edge providers’ are not only censoring free speech, but – at least in the case of Yahoo! — have even turned over users’ personal information to repressive regimes which has resulted in harsh prison sentences and even torture of democratic activists.

In the letter, I cite several examples of censorship and the suppression of speech by companies such as Google and Yahoo, and argue that Congressional hearings on the use of technology to repress and subvert freedom should pay special attention to “edge providers” who have demonstrated a shocking willingness to acquiesce to the demands of repressive regimes in silencing dissenting voices in exchange for market entry.