22
Mar
10

Google stops censoring in China

NEWS
Google stops censoring in China
• Google moves Chinese search to Hong Kong

Monday, March 22, 2010

••• Google has stopped censoring its search and news results in China and began redirecting visitors to Google’s Chinese-language service hosted in Hong Kong, making good on a threat in its high-profile standoff over censorship with Chinese officials.

The company said it is not pulling out of China and it will continue to host non-search services in China and intends to keep sales and research operations in China.

A Google spokesman said it is “too early to tell” what will happen to its roughly 600 employees in China, who may be reassigned.

David Drummond, the company’s chief legal officer, wrote in a blog post that the company’s Hong Kong site is “offering uncensored search in simplified Chinese, specifically designed for users in mainland China and delivered via our servers in Hong Kong”.

Mr Drummond said Google believes the move is a “sensible decision,” but said Google is “well aware that it could at any time block access to our services”. The company has also set up a site showing users which of its services are available in China and which are being blocked by the government.

“We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement,” Mr Drummond wrote.

The announcement comes after months of suspense over the fate of Google’s Chinese business, which has been in jeopardy since January 12, when the company said it would stop censoring its search results after it was hit by cyber attack it traced to China.

Google said at the time that it was increasingly troubled by China’s attempts to limit free speech.

The White House said it is “disappointed” that Google and China couldn’t settle a months-old dispute over censorship, but respects the company’s decision to stop its censored web-search services in China, Dow Jones Newswires reported later.

“We are disappointed that Google and the Chinese government were unable to reach an agreement that would allow Google to continue operating its search services in China on its google.cn Web site,” National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said.
Google said earlier that it will rout users to uncensored versions of Google Search, Google News and Google Images hosted in Hong Kong (Google.com.hk). The firm, which said in January that it was hit by a cyber-attack it traced to China, said it isn’t pulling out of the country, however.

Mr Hammer said in an email that the NSC was informed by Google shortly before its announcement.

“Google made its decision based on what it believed was in its interest,” Mr Hammer said. “We respect Google’s decision and refer you to the company for details. We have previously raised our concerns about this issue directly with the Chinese government.”

The matter is the latest in a series of disputes between Washington and Beijing, a list that includes the US’s concerns over China’s currency and China’s fury over a US arms deal with Taiwan.

Mr Hammer said US-Sino ties are “mature” enough to cope with differences of opinion.

• Source(s): The Wall Street Journal & Dow Jones

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