Google appears to have finally found some balls and has told the Chinese government that it is no longer willing to censor search results.
The announcement – and the associated threat to pull its operations out of China altogether – was prompted by the hacking of two Google email accounts used by Chinese human rights activists. Google hasn’t specifically pointed the finger at the Chinese authorities but that is obviously what they are implying.
One of the conditions on Google being allowed to operate inside China was that it would censor search results on behalf of the Chinese government. China restricts internet access severely and websites that they don’t approve of are blocked very quickly. I tested the response of the Chinese censors once by posting something about Tibet with a picture of the Tibetan flag here on Wonko’s World and then checked the Great Firewall of China website regularly which allows you to check if a website is accessible in China via proxies. This blog was blocked within hours.
At the time, Google was criticised heavily for caving in and meeting the demands of the Chinese censors. But I wonder now whether Google had a long term plan to establish itself in China, to become a dominant and recognisable brand in China as indispensible there as it is elsewhere around the world and then to start using that influence to try and end China’s censorship of the internet.
I would like to think that it was all part of a big plan but I guess we’ll never know. Either way, it’s good to see that Google has finally got some balls.