Google said today in a blog post that its attempt to strike a balance between providing free information and abiding by Chinese law isn’t working.
Since it decided not to censor results on Google.cn in January, the company has been automatically redirecting Chinese users to Google.com.hk, the company’s Hong Kong search engine. The redirect has worked well from Google’s point of view and from the point of view of its users. But not for the authorities.
“It’s clear from our conversations we have had with the Chinese government that they find the redirect unacceptable — and that if we continue redirecting users our Internet Content Provider license will not be renewed. Without a license, we can’t operate a commercial web site like Google.cn — so Google would effectively go dark in China,” wrote David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer.
The license is up for renewal on June 30. Google will redirect users once again to a landing page on Google.cn that links to Google.com.hk. Users can choose to move from that landing page to the uncensored Google.com.hk site, or search on the censored site. Today, Google submitted its ICP license renewal application based on this new approach.
“This new approach is consistent with our commitment not to self censor and, we believe, with local law,” Drummond said. “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.”