Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Google News Slow To Reinstate UN Critic

By David A. Utter. (http://globalcompactcritics.blogspot.com)
Inner City Press, a one-man full-time operation with volunteer contributors, should be back on Google News following an anonymous complaint that caused it to be delisted.

Google claimed in an email to Inner City Press that after reviewing the site, it could no longer be included in Google News. The search advertising company alluded to "user complaints," but offered no specifics.

Inner City Press believes the action came as a delayed reaction to its questioning of Google's Michael T. Jones in late 2007 at a United Nations Development Program press conference. The question concerned whether or not "if Google was a member of the UN Global Compact, through which corporations sign up to principles of human rights including non-censorship."

Considering Google's acceptance of Chinese censorship conditions in exchange for operating its search servers in the country, that little hardball came as a surprise. Jones could not answer the question.

The answer is no, Google is not nor has ever been a member. A Fox News report gave Google's explanation:

Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker told FOXNews.com that "Google generally does not sign petitions or join coalitions but prefers to support public-engagement and advocacy efforts through the work of Google.org and by leveraging our products, such as Google Earth."

This quickly takes a turn for the conspiratorial. Inner City Press, long accredited by the UN as well as by US federal agencies, dropped this little bombshell:

In fact, UNDP sources describe communications from the UN system to Google executives, asking that Inner City Press be de-listed from Google News, and that a well-read blog, UNDP-Watch, be striken from that data base. Recently a whistleblower in UNDP's legal department had his office computer impounded and was told, you have visited InnerCityPress.com multiple times. While the interrogation reflected contempt for the freedom to read and freedom of the press, the issue goes far beyond the corporate culture at UNDP, to that of Google.

The Government Accountability Project also criticized Google for delisting Inner City Press.

"Google's reference to 'user complaints' is disturbing," said Bea Edwards, International Director. "We can't help wondering who is complaining about Inner City Press. Considering their continuing coverage of U.N. whistleblower issues, it’s not too difficult to venture a guess."

Despite assurances Inner City Press would be reinstated by Google News, Fox News learned from Stricker blamed a "technical error" and a "glitch" was keeping the site from being reincluded in the index.

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