Firm “totally wrong” says Chinese official
Google has stopped censoring search results in China – fulfilling a threat the firm made following a cyber attack on its services earlier this year.
Anyone attempting to use google.cn is now redirected to the firm’s Hong Kong site, google.com.hk. Although it is part of China, Hong Kong operates under different laws and Internet access is not as controlled as it is in China.
David Drummond, SVP, corporate development and Chief Legal Officer at Google, said that Google search, news and images results will no longer be censored. Users from within China will be greeted with a version of the site in simplified Chinese, based on servers in Hong Kong. Users within Hong Kong will continue to receive the same service, Drummond said.
Drummond said: “Figuring out how to make good on our promise to stop censoring search on Google.cn has been hard. 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.”
He added that the move is a, “sensible solution to the challenges we’ve faced – it’s entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China.”
“We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services,” Drummond added. Google has set up a web page to monitor whether the new services is fully operational or not.
In January this year Google revealed that it had been the target of what it called a highly sophisticated cyber attack launched from within China. The attacks, which were aimed at around 20 companies in total, targeted Chinese human rights activists by attempting to access their Gmail accounts.
At the time the firm said that the move may well mean the end of google.cn and its offices in the country, although Drummond now insists that R&D work will continue and its sales offices will also remain operational, although the number of employees there will depend on the ability of mainland Chinese users to access the new Hong Kong-based service, he said.
China has reacted angrily to the news, with one official claiming that the move violates promises made by Google when it began operations in the country.
“Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks. This is totally wrong. We’re uncompromisingly opposed to the politicisation of commercial issues, and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conducts,” said the official, according to the BBC.