Google gets the wobbles in China censorship row

Google, who at one point threatened to pull out of China as a result of its web censoring, has now buckled in the long running dispute, by offering a compromise to the Chinese government that it hopes will be enough to let it carry on operating in the country.

It all kicked off back in January when Google.cn came under attack from cyber-nasties who targeted human rights activists' email accounts. This prompted Google to state that not only would it stop censoring results for Google.cn, it would also consider quitting the country entirely.

Since then Google has been redirecting Google.cn traffic to Google.com.hk, the Hong-Kong based domain which has Chinese languages, but without the filtering. Obviously, the Chinese government isn't happy with this, and has threatened to revoke Google's licence to operate in the country, which ends on 30 June.

So now, Google is going to give Google.cn visitors a link to Google.com.hk, but without automatically redirecting them. Google.cn will still be censored though.

The Google blog states:

"As a company we aspire to make information available to users everywhere, including China. It’s why we have worked so hard to keep Google.cn alive, as well as to continue our research and development work in China. This new approach is consistent with our commitment not to self censor and, we believe, with local law. We are therefore hopeful that our license will be renewed on this basis so we can continue to offer our Chinese users services via Google.cn".

Many people will see this as Google getting the jitters over its original position. Offering up a landing page, which probably won't even be accepted by the Chinese government anyway, is a far, far cry from its earlier threat of a withdrawal.

It will be interesting to see how this one pans out.



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