[article] Brin says Google compromised principles

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin acknowledged
Tuesday the dominant Internet company has compromised its principles
by accommodating Chinese censorship demands. He said Google is
wrestling to make the deal work before deciding whether to reverse

Meeting with reporters near Capitol Hill, Brin said Google had agreed
to the censorship demands only after Chinese authorities blocked its
service in that country. Google's rivals accommodated the same demands
- which Brin described as "a set of rules that we weren't comfortable
with" - without international criticism, he said.

"We felt that perhaps we could compromise our principles but provide
ultimately more information for the Chinese and be a more effective
service and perhaps make more of a difference," Brin said.

Brin also addressed Internet users' expectations of privacy in an era
of increased government surveillance, saying Americans misunderstand
the limited safeguards of their personal electronic information.

"I think it's interesting that the expectations of people with respect
to what happens to their data seems to be different than what is
actually happening," he said.

Google has battled the U.S. Justice Department in court seeking to
limit the amount of information the government can get about users'
Internet searches. It also says it has not participated in any
programs with the National Security Agency to collect Internet
communications without warrants.

Google's free e-mail service is among the Internet's most popular.

Brin visited Washington to ask U.S. senators to approve a plan that
would prevent telephone and cable companies from collecting premium
fees from companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! for faster
delivery of their services. Brin, dressed casually in jeans, sneakers
and a black sport jacket, said he wasn't sure whether he changed any
lawmakers' minds.

Google's China-approved Web service omits politically sensitive
information that might be retrieved during Internet searches, such as
details about the 1989 suppression of political unrest in Tiananmen
Square. Its agreement with China has provoked considerable criticism
from human rights groups.

"Perhaps now the principled approach makes more sense," Brin said.

The Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders said Tuesday that
Google's main Web site, http://www.google.com , was no longer
accessible in most Chinese provinces due to censorship efforts, and
that it was completely inaccessible throughout China on May 31.

Brin said Google is trying to improve its censored search service,
Google.cn, before deciding whether to reverse course. He said
virtually all the company's customers in China use the non-censored

"It's perfectly reasonable to do something different, to say, 'Look,
we're going to stand by the principle against censorship and we won't
actually operate there.' That's an alternate path," Brin said. "It's
not where we chose to go right now, but I can sort of see how people
came to different conclusions about doing the right thing."


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