Google is staying in China with 'unfiltered' services

Google's license to offer search services in China has been renewed after months of restructuring and negotiations with the Chinese government.

In 2005, Google first won a license to operate within China, but to remain available, it had to adhere to strict government oversight and censor search results. Queries related to human rights topics, or to Tibet and the Dalai Lama, for example, would redirect searchers to Government-run sites.

After initially justifying its decision to filter searches according to the government's demands, Google's services were repeatedly subjected to heavy censorship.

In March 2008, YouTube and Google News were blocked for carrying reports of protests in Tibet, and running up to the 2008 Summer Olympics, the government made well-publicized moves to crack down on "cyber dissidence."

By 2010, Google could no longer justify censorship as it had four years prior. Representatives from the search company told us "We will no longer self-censor in China," and searches from mainland China began to be redirected to Google Hong Kong, which was uncensored.

"The Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement. We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from Google.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we've faced," Google's Chief Legal Officer David Drummond said in March.

Google today issued a brief statement in its blog confirming its return to mainland China: "We are very pleased that the government has renewed our ICP license and we look forward to continuing to provide web search and local products to our users in China."

According to the search company, Chinese users will receive unfiltered results, but services will be limited.

"Users can conduct web search or continue to use Google.cn services like music and text translate, which we 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," Google said.

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