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Google backs down over China site

Jun 29 2010 13:58

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Beijing - Google will stop automatically redirecting Chinese users to an uncensored site in Hong Kong, a day before the web giant's government licence expires, it ammounced on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, Google effectively shut down its search engine in mainland China - the world's biggest Internet market - over censorship and cyberattacks, and automatically re-routed users to the Hong Kong site.

"It's 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," Google's chief legal officer David Drummond said.

"Over the next few days we'll end the redirect entirely, taking all our Chinese users to our new landing page," he said, explaining that readers in China would be taken to a new page on Google.cn, which would link to the Hong Kong site.

Google's ICP licence comes up for renewal on Wednesday, and the Internet giant has re-submitted its application based on what it called a "new approach", Drummond added.

"This new approach is consistent with both our commitment not to self-censor and, we believe, with local law."

In January, Google threatened to shut down its operations in mainland China altogether over what it said were China-based cyberattacks, and said it was no longer willing to bow to China's army of government censors.

Two months later, it started re-routing users of Google.cn to its Hong Kong site.

Beijing reacted furiously, denying any role in the cyberattacks which Google said had targeted the Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents and saying it was "totally wrong" to stop filtering its Chinese-language search engine.

Google has said it plans to maintain its sales, research and development teams in China, which has the world's largest online population at 404 million. - Sapa

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