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July 09, 2010
China Renews Google's License to Operate
    by Robert Kropp

Free speech issue is sidestepped as the company will continue to direct its Chinese users to its Hong Kong-based search engine.

This morning, in an update to a June 29 blog post addressing the company's operations in China, Google Senior Vice President David Drummond wrote, "We are very pleased that the government has renewed our ICP (Internet Content Provider) license and we look forward to continuing to provide web search and local products to our users in China."

In January, responding to cyber-attacks on its corporate infrastructure and Gmail users in China, Google announced that it would review the business operations of its search engine there, and could cease its operations in China altogether. According to Google, the goal of the cyber-attacks was to access the email accounts of human rights activists in China. At the time, Drummond said, "We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on"

According to Drummond's June 29 blog post, Google's response to censorship by the Chinese government has, since March, consisted of automatically redirecting its Chinese users to its Hong Kong-based search engine, where, Drummond wrote, "Users can conduct web search or continue to use services…which we can provide locally without filtering."

In order to gain renewal of its license to operate in China, Google will no longer automatically redirect its Chinese users to, but instead will point users to the site.

The results of web searches of by Chinese users are screened by the Chinese government's "Great Firewall," and politically sensitive web search results are routinely censored. In 2005, human rights advocates charged that Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo had colluded with the Chinese government in suppressing freedom of expression on the Internet, and a coalition of sustainable investors issued a
statement which called on Internet sector businesses to "adopt and make public ethical codes stressing their commitment to freedom of expression and defining their obligations to uphold these freedoms."

In a ZDNet blog post entitled
Why China won and Google lost, journalist Dana Blankenhorn wrote, "No Google user searching in the Chinese language can thus access information about anything the government decides, on its whim, the people should not know about. That was the government’s position all along. That position has been upheld."

Referring to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's March statement that "with respect to Google, this is really between Google and China," Blankenhorn continued, "The position of both China and the US is now that governments are sovereign over Internet services provided inside their borders."


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