Update on Google vs. China Dispute: ICP License Renewed, Google Stays in China
Article by George Norman
On 13 Jul 2010
If you have been following the Google vs. China dispute, here is the update: China has agreed to renew Google’s ICP (Internet Content Provider) license, meaning that Google will continue to stay in 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,” announced SVP of Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer with Google, David Drummond.
For those of you who are not familiar with this story, here is a brief recap.

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Back in January Google announced that a “highly sophisticated” hacking attack targeted Google’s corporate infrastructure with the goal to access the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Google said that because the attack originated from China, it is no longer willing to censor search results on Google.cn, the Chinese version of Google search.

After long talks with the Chinese authorities, talks that lead nowhere, Google decided to redirect Google.cn visitors to Google.com.hk – that’s Google Hong Kong; on Google Hong Kong, Google does not censor search results.

And that’s how things remained until the end of June, when Google’s ICP license was up for renewal. To keep operating in China, Google needed an ICP license – but because the Chinese authorities found the redirect from Google.cn to Google.com.hk unacceptable, the license had very slim chances to get renewed. So Google decided to do something to please the authorities – it stopped automatically redirecting users away from Google.cn. Apparently this strategy worked out since China renewed Google’s ICP license.

The story ends like this: Google remains in China, Google.cn continues to be censored, and Google.com.hk remains unfiltered.

“It's a great victory, both for the people of China and for the free and open Internet. Access to unfiltered search is the gateway to the networked public sphere and the openness of the Internet. In practice, nothing has changed in that many Chinese citizens interested in circumventing the Great Firewall were already able to do so through the use of proxy systems such as Tor. It is the ceremonial acceptance of Google's workaround as nominally adhering to Chinese law that exposes the censorship regime's vulnerability,” commented International Affairs Director with the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), Eddan Katz.



Tags: Google, China, Censorhip
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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