A post has just gone up on the Google corporate blog indicating that the company has compromised a little in its dealings with the Chinese authorities. Those who follow these things will remember that in March Google announced that it had decided to withdraw its agreement to censor search results in China. This followed the company being on the end of a “sophisticated cyber attack” from inside China.
From March, Google automatically redirected all searchers to its Hong Kong based site, which remained uncensored and offered results in simplified Chinese.
Now, faced with the possible refusal to renew its licence to operate – which is up for renewal tomorrow – Google has revived its Google.cn Chinese based site, but included a landing page that contains a hotlink through to the Hong Kong site.
Will this be enough to guarantee that Google will remain in the game in China? Is it an unacceptable compromise on the company’s stated commitment to refuse to censor?
I spoke a few moments ago to Lucinda Barlow, the company’s regional communications manager. She is tight-lipped on the detail of the negotiations with the authorities. It is clear, apparently, that the redirect was not acceptable to them – but reading between the lines, it is NOT clear that the Google solution of the Google Hong Kong hotlink, described as “consistent with our commitment not to self censor and, we believe, with local law” will be enough to guarantee that Google will have its Chinese licence renewed.
More in the Crikey email tomorrow.