I read in Joshua Landis’s Syria Comment today that “Google has blocked the use of its new web-browser, “Chrome”, in Syria.”
A tiny bit more searching brought me to Global Voices and a link to a post from Yaser Sadeq in Syria, who tried to download the browser and got an error message, but then learned from another blog (the link to which isn’t working) that it was a conscious Google decision not to offer the browser in Syria.
How can a company that’s thinking Arabic in so many of its recent pursuits–Knol, Translate, Gmail Chat–use it’s technologies to enable with one hand and restrict with another? I sent a query to firstname.lastname@example.org, where it says that if you are not a member of the press, you will not be answered. I didn’t see any links that would help me determine whether as a freelancer I qualified, so I sent a link to a recent story I wrote, hoping that might work.
Anyway, the bulk of the email went as follows:
I read today that Chrome is not available for download in Syria. I’m writing a blog post about this, and I’m wondering if Google can comment on why this is the case? Is the company adhering to specific US laws or a request by the Syrian government? Is there a precedent at Google for such an action? Or are there other countries where Chrome is not available for download?
Does Google consider itself “amoral” when it comes to censorship issues, whether the impetus comes from the US government or a foreign government?
If Chrome were downloaded in Lebanon, say, and then physically transferred to Syria or any other country where it’s unavailable, would it work?
I know there are a lot of other questions that could be asked. But this is a start. I’ll let you know if we get a response.