The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Don't Advertise the 1st Amendment 

Google Base is now officially live, after news of the service was leaked a couple months early. I'm currently looking at using Google Base for a basic database service that I can use for random and rotating content that I have in my right hand side bar. Right now I use static XML contained in Javascript which requires I have FTP access to my ISP account in order to change. I'd like to see what I can do to change that.

As I was investigating how I might be able to use this new service, I stumbled upon their Program Policies, and this one struck me as strange in particular:

Items and associated websites may not promote violence or advocate against a protected group. A protected group is distinguished by their:
  • Race or ethnic origin
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Veteran status
  • Sexual orientation/Gender identity
This standard applies to everyone who wants to post on Google, whether we agree with their viewpoint or not.

I can understand them not wanting to promote violence against anyone using this service... but they also say you can't "advocate against" any of those groups either... and that list is pretty damn comprehensive. "Advocate against" doesn't imply violence at all... it simply means that you can't speak against them in any way. Does anyone else think that is pretty damn broad? I find this especially interesting given the criticism that Google News faces with their choices of accepted news services. Are they going to be removing al Jazeera from their list any time soon now?

Since this is such a broad and vague restriction, I can't help but think how this could easily be selectively used to remove some postings and not others. I hope that doesn't come to pass. On the one hand I can understand their desire to do this with this service. Primarily they want to use this as a means to host the sale of products and services. Nothing turns away customers faster than deep rooted politics. On the other hand, I'm a big fan of free speech... and this just doesn't sit very well with me.

Comments:

On the one hand I can understand their desire to do this with this service. Primarily they want to use this as a means to host the sale of products and services. Nothing turns away customers faster than deep rooted politics.

I wonder if this is so they don't inadvertently get shut down, for example, in Germany, where Nazi-sympathetic expression is illegal. I seem to recall something similar happening (or almost happening) to AOL a few years ago.

  Posted at November 16, 2005 6:59 PM by Blogger Bostonian Exile  
I don't buy that argument for one reason. One of their other policies specifically states that any products being sold have to be in the United States (at least for now).

  Posted at November 17, 2005 10:32 AM by Blogger Nick  
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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.


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