Internet giant Google has announced it is adopting a “new approach” to its Chinese site, Google.cn, following complaints from Beijing that could see the company lose its government licence to provide an internet service in China.
In a blog post yesterday, Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond said that instead of redirecting Chinese Google users from Google.cn to the company’s Hong Kong search engine, the company had decided to create a new landing page on Google.cn which will link to the Hong Kong site.
Google stopped censoring its search services on its Chinese site and began redirecting Chinese users to the Google.hk site to allow uncensored search last March, two months after it discovered that hack attacks had been made on its computer systems in China by sources originating from inside the country.
Google said yesterday that while this approach of redirecting Google.cn traffic to the Hong Kong page had been “working well” for its Chinese users, it was “clear from conversations we have had with Chinese government officials that they find the redirect unacceptable – and that if we continue redirecting users our internet content provider licence will not be renewed”.
“Without an ICP licence, we can’t operate a commercial website like Google.cn — so Google would effectively go dark in China,” the company added. Google’s ICP licence is up for renewal tomorrow.
Keeping Google.cn alive
Google said in order to keep Google.cn alive for users, it had been looking at possible alternatives, so that instead of automatically redirecting all its Chinese users to Google Hong Kong, it had started taking a small percentage of them to a landing page on Google.cn that links to Google.com.hk, where they can conduct web search or continue to use Google.cn services, which it can provide locally without filtering.
“This approach ensures we stay true to our commitment not to censor our results on Google.cn and gives users access to all of our services from one page,” the company said.
“Over the next few days we’ll end the redirect entirely, taking all our Chinese users to our new landing page — and today we re-submitted our ICP licence renewal application based on this approach.”
Google said it believed its new approach met both its obligation not to self-censor and its obligation to local Chinese law.
“We are therefore hopeful that our licence will be renewed on this basis so we can continue to offer our Chinese users services via Google.cn."
Google threatened Chinese withdrawal
Google threatened to withdraw from China back in January when it emerged that the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists had been hacked.
Google also said it had discovered that at least 20 other large companies across a wide range of businesses, including the internet, finance, technology, media and chemical industries, were targeted in the attack.
While the US company did not directly accuse the Chinese government of being behind the attacks, it said it was no longer willing to censor the search results on its Chinese site, which the government requires.
Google has said previously that it intends to continue its R&D work in China and to maintain a sales presence there.
Photo by Jens Schott Knudsen
Article courtesy of Businessandleadership.com