Google said it plans to stop automatically redirecting users of its Google.cn site to its Hong Kong page, in an effort to secure renewal of the company's China operating license.
Ever since Google launched Google.cn, the company's search engine for mainland Chinese users, Google has been trying to increase access to information while abiding by Chinese law. This has not always been an easy balance to strike, especially since January's announcement that Google was no longer willing to censor results on Google.cn.
Google is currently automatically redirecting everyone using Google.cn to Google.com.hk, the company's Hong Kong search engine. This redirect offers unfiltered search in simplified Chinese. However, Chinese government officials find the redirect unacceptable and push Google to stop it. Otherwise, Google's Internet Content Provider license will not be renewed (it?s up for renewal on June 30). Without an ICP license, Google can't can?t operate a commercial website like Google.cn?so Google would effectively go dark in China.
Looking at possible alternatives and instead of automatically redirecting all Chinese users, Gogole has started taking a small percentage of them to a landing page on Google.cn that links to Google.com.hk?where users can conduct web search or continue to use Google.cn services like music and text translate, which Google can provide locally without filtering.
"This approach ensures we stay true to our commitment not to censor our results on Google.cn and gives users access to all of our services from one page," David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer at Google posted at the company's blog.
Over the next few days Google plans to end the redirect entirely, taking all its Chinese users to the new landing page. Google is also today re-submitted its ICP license renewal application based on this approach.
"This new approach is consistent with our commitment not to self censor and, we believe, with local law. We are therefore hopeful that our license will be renewed on this basis so we can continue to offer our Chinese users services via Google.cn," Drummond added.