After a lengthy standstill, the situation between Google and China started developing pretty fast: two days ago, Google started redirecting users visiting Google.cn to their Hong Kong domain (Google.com.hk), where users can enjoy an “uncensored search in simplified Chinese”.
“It 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,” wrote David Drummond, Chief Legal Officer for Google on their official blog.
It didn’t take long for China to form an answer, The New York Times reports.
People’s Daily – the newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party – accused Google of collusion with US intelligence and security agencies. China Mobile, the biggest wireless carrier in the country, is under pressure from the government to nix their deal with Google that put the search engine on their hugely popular home page tailored for mobile access. China Unicom, the second-largest mobile service provider, is thought to have given up on the plans to launch a cellphone based on the Android platform.
Still, the firewalls that China put in place disable objectionable searches or block links, but search results are less restricted. In the latest news from Google as of Wednesday, Google’s Search, Images, News, Ads, Gmail and Mobile services are available in mainland China, and Youtube, Sites and Blogger are blocked.
Google offered to their users some suggestions for restoring access to some of the services: using a VPN connection, secure shell (SSH) tunneling, or using a proxy server. Although, they warn companies to consult their own legal and policy personnel if they choose to do so, since – technically – that would constitute an attempt to bypass China’s censorship laws.
Opinions about Google’s move vary both in China and the rest of the world. While some Chinese support it, other boycott the search engine in favor of the national giant Baidu. But, there is a lot of skepticism coming from US experts knowledgeable about the state of affairs in China – they wonder if this was the right step to take and they don’t believe that China will let Google have the final word in this matter.
Wired reports that in the meantime, another Internet biggie – GoDaddy, the largest domain-name registrar – announced on Wednesday that because of the new Chinese legislation that demands from persons who apply for .cn domains to provide a photo ID, they will stop selling them.