Google’s New Tactic in China

Current www.google.cn homepage

According to the Associate Press and other sources, Google’s presence in China is taking some new challenges as it tries to cope with censorship and restrictions.

Following Google’s redirection of Chinese searches to its Hong Kong site back in March of this year, there has been a great deal of uncertainty about what will happen next with this complicated relationship between Google and China. The new challenge appears to be China’s threat to revoke Google’s operating license in China; requisite for anyone to run a site in the Chinese domain, and one that Google is up for renewal on June 30th. Without this license, www.google.cn which still has some services like music searches that are not affected by censorship controversy, would simply blink out of existence.

Google actively does not want this to happen, but they’ve also made it clear that they are strongly opposed to providing filtered results through its services. The new strategy appears to be a new link on the www.google.cn homepage, that encourages users to follow through to the Hong Kong version of the site. (a picture of this is at the top of the page)

Upon testing it out, it appeared that where ever you click on the page, it takes you through to the Hong Kong site still. This may be just a temporary glitch…….or maybe just a stalling mechanism. It is all still very unclear how this will be used. Google’s Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond had this to say from the company blog:

“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.”

The Chinese government has not yet publicly announced if this new practice will appease them, but Google feels confident that this system will fall within current Internet laws in China. With the Registration renewal date almost here, we should have an answer soon enough.

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About the Author: Alex Fayette

Alex is a Junior at Yale University who is currently an intern with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society @ Harvard Law School. His focus this summer is with Herdict.org and also with other Berkman projects falling under the Freedom of Expression umbrella. He is majoring in Economics and Physics, and loves singing and aviation on the side.

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