A Minute With Alec Muffett

By Ben Charny  |  Posted 2006-02-02

Muffett found a rather easy way around the censorship software Google's using on its newest search engine in China.

EWEEK'S GOOGLE WATCH: How did you figure out all you needed to do was enter search terms in capital letters? Was the cap key stuck and you didn't notice?

Muffett "A friend mentioned the observation to me via instant-messenger; the inference of what is going on is something that just seemed obvious - indeed I believe that it'd be obvious to anyone with a background in security programming. Others have reported similar censor-work-arounds based around mis-spellings, slang and so forth."

EWEEK'S GOOGLE WATCH: What do you make of Google's efforts?

Muffett: "Consider the challenge: if you put aside questions of ethics, what Google seek to achieve in order to operate in China is a task not unlike trying to push water uphill."

"They are setting themselves up against a cultural tide. To achieve 100% effectiveness the task would be immense - the rules would have to evolve daily, the culture would need to be tracked - so from a pragmatic perspective I can only personally suppose that Google do not aspire to (nor one presumes are contracted to deliver) 100% effective censorship. Perhaps this means something, or perhaps I'm wrong - but I wouldn't like to have been the person signing the contract in the latter instance."

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