25 February 2006. Spacewar.com reports Google has restored indexing.

24 February 2006

Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2006 08:33:10 -0000
From: J Armitage <j.armitage@UNN.AC.UK>
Subject: [CSL]: Google Inc Bans Australian-based Military Space News Website

From: Irving [mailto:irving_goh@yahoo.com.sg]
Sent: 24 February 2006 07:03
To: John Armitage; Jordan Crandall
Subject: Google Inc Bans Australian-based Military Space News Website

Google Inc, Bans Australian-based Military Space News Website


Gerroa, Australia (SPX) Feb 24, 2006


Google Inc. has banned SPACEWAR.COM, a news site covering military space. Reasons for the ban by Google are unclear. The company did not communicate with Space.TV Corp., the owner of SPACEWAR.COM, prior to its action, and Google representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

Google Inc.'s preferred method of banning a site is to delist its primary domain URL - www.spacewar.com - from the Google search index. Google also can reduce a site's page rank, or eliminate it entirely, as it has done to SpaceWar.com. SpaceWar.com is owned and operated by Space.TV Corp., a Delaware registered company that publishes a range of space, science and technology Web sites. In operation since the mid 1990s, the Space.TV network enjoys a monthly audience of more than 1 million visitors to its sites - with more than 100,000 monthly visitors to SPACEWAR.COM.

Google Inc in the wake of pressure from the Chinese government has begun blocking access to various websites deemed unfriendly to the "Boys From Beijing" (TM).

At this stage we have no evidence to suggest this is the reason why Google has banned SPACEWAR.COM. The lack of any forewarning that SPACEWAR.COM was operating in violation of Google's increasingly strict search engine compliance requirements, however, leads us to suspect the ban is politically motivated.

Google Inc.'s corporate mantra is "Do No Evil." Obviously, this is not true given Google's willingness to submit to the censorship requirements of the Chinese government.

Space.TV Corp is consulting with legal advisers in the United States and Australia, where production of the company's Web sites is conducted. We consider the ban a violation of the recently enacted US-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

Following a previous search engine compliance issue with Google, the Space.TV Corp. board of directors voted to remove and delete all links and pages that may have fallen within the area of practices deemed unacceptable by Google.

Our effort to achieve network-wide compliance with Google's requirements was completed in mid-January, and Google's army of Web robots was advised of this effort to comply.

Google Inc. is mostly operated by robotic systems agents with a brick wall between its human customers and human workers.

The only method of contacting a human at Google Inc is via its AdWords business, where Google's human employees will happily sell you an advertising package to get your site listed in its top-of-page sponsored links section.

What makes this case even more interesting is Space.TV Corp, decided in November 2005 to convert 90 percent of its advertising inventory base to Google's AdSense program, which enables publishers to run Google context-based text ads.

As a result, Space.TV Corp. now receives over 50 percent of its advertising revenue from Google, and this figure is forecast to rise to 80 percent by April.

Space.TV Corp is obviously now reconsidering its position as a Google Ad Sense partner site.

However, Google is has become now the dominant advertising network for owner operated sites, and its competitors come a very poor second in terms of available advertIsing inventory. Essentially, Web sites such as those operated by Space.TV Corp. have little choice but to run Google AdSense text ads.

The only other network advertising available in any significant volume comprises ads for Smiley Icons and ScamWare Scanning Software, which we removed almost entirely from our network sites in November 2005.

We have done our best to provide a network of news sites that are informative and diverse in opinion, and free to readers.

As President of Space.TV Corp. and the nominal publisher of our network of news sites, I am deeply concerned by the implications of Google banning SPACEWAR.COM.

We consider Google's action as an attempt to dictate what information will appear on Web sites, and what links will be allowed between Web sites. If true, this constitutes a gross abuse of market power, and it should cause our political leadership in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia to investigate fully the business operations of Google Inc.

We are deeply concerned about retaliatory action by Google Inc. against our company and its various Web sites. In recent months, we have bet the business on Google advertising revenues, which has left us dangerously exposed to major revenue losses should Google cancel our AdSense contract, and delay payments and/or sue us for going public.

We ask that you communicate your concerns about Google's action in banning SPACEWAR.COM by contacting your local political representatives using the enclosed form letter. We also ask that you to communicate your concerns to Google's public relations officials via the following email address: press@google.com.

Simon Mansfield
President and Publisher Space.TV Corporation

Contact Details
Simon Mansfield
Australian Office