Google's License Renewed

Chinese authorities and the Internet firm reach a compromise decision.

2010.07.09
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google-305.jpg A screen grab of google.cn, July 9, 2010
Photo: RFA

WASHINGTON—China renewed Google's license to operate its google.cn site on Friday after the U.S. company stopped automatically rerouting visitors to its uncensored, Hong Kong-based google.hk site.

Google said on its blog that it looks "forward to continuing to provide web search and local products to our users in China."

However, google.cn provides only limited services, such as music and text translation, and Chinese Internet users who want to use its flagship, uncensored search engine have to click on a link to google.hk provided on the page.

This was the compromise Google offered to Chinese authorities on June 30, when it appeared that the company's license to operate in China would not be renewed.

Since its controversial launch in 2006, google.cn had censored search results according to Chinese law on the principle, the company said, that a censored search engine would be better than none. Internet firms Yahoo and Microsoft also censor their search-engine results in China.

But Google's choice was highly controversial from the begining. With a corporate philosophy stating that one can make money "without doing evil," Google's move to censor its search results led to criticism and commentary in the United States and other democracies.

It is not clear, though, whether accommodating official Chinese demands for censorship has helped Google in its business in and outside of China.

China's dominant search engine, Baidu, towers over its competitors in China in numbers of search requests.

In February this year, Google announced that its servers had been hacked by attacks originating inside China and that e-mail accounts carried by its gmail service had been compromised.

The company then began to automatically redirect all search requests from google.cn to its uncensored search engine in Hong Kong, which operates under a different legal system that affords more freedom of speech.

The renewal of Google's licence was announced on both the Google blog and Twitter feed, updating a post dated June 28.

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