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Censorship Google Your Rights Online

Google's New Approach For China Is To Serve From Hong Kong 295

Posted by Soulskill
from the gauntlet-thrown dept.
abs0lutz3ro writes with a major update to the Google/China situation we've been discussing so much lately: "Google has stopped censoring simplified Chinese search results on google.cn by redirecting users to google.com.hk, which Google maintains is entirely legal. From the official blog: 'We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet 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—it's entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China. We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services. We will therefore be carefully monitoring access issues, and have created this new web page, which we will update regularly each day, so that everyone can see which Google services are available in China.' Seems like google.cn got served (from google.com.hk)."
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Google's New Approach For China Is To Serve From Hong Kong

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  • Anytime google says, "china", it's going to be front page news on slashdot.
    • Yeah, it's going to disrupt things like a bovine male in some kind of retail establishment.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Like a fat ass at Walmart?

    • by BhaKi (1316335)
      That's called jingoism. Usually, jingoism wears off after certain period of time - usually a week. But some flavors of jingoism - especially the ones arising from propaganda - will last untill the objectives of the propagandist are fulfilled.
  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Monday March 22, 2010 @04:49PM (#31575154) Homepage

    If they wanted to piss off the PRC, they might have redirected to Google Taiwan instead. :P

    • That would be tantamount, in the CCP's eyes, to a declaration of war. Then you would REALLY see their true colours.

  • Market Share (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zero0ne (1309517) on Monday March 22, 2010 @04:50PM (#31575166) Journal

    So, what % of the search market will Google now own after this change?

    I would imagine a LOT of people would start using Google if they found out it was uncensored.

    It will be interesting to watch how their market share changes from this.

    • Re:Market Share (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NevarMore (248971) on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:05PM (#31575388) Homepage Journal

      I bet not.

      A small minority of people that want to find uncensored material (porn, politics, history, in that order) will use Google.

      People who want to find the usual search engine stuff will use whatever is most popular and/or gives them the results they find most useful. Which may very well be Baidu, Yahoo, Bing or Google.

      • Re:Market Share (Score:5, Informative)

        by qw0ntum (831414) on Monday March 22, 2010 @06:06PM (#31576234) Journal

        Right. Also remember that a large number of Chinese citizens are on the side of their government, hard to believe as that may be. The prevailing attitude seems to be "they should not do business here if they don't respect our local laws", and moreover many people there see Google as an extension of the US government's foreign policy (state media has played up ties between Googlers and the US government.

        Surprising as it may seem, a large, large number (maybe majority, I don't have statistics) are perfectly fine with censorship, and are immensely proud of their country despite its flaws (nationalism strikes again!).

      • by Toze (1668155) on Monday March 22, 2010 @06:26PM (#31576544)

        A small minority of people

        porn

        Sir, I believe I have discovered a flaw in your argument.

  • by dave562 (969951) on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:05PM (#31575384) Journal

    My limited understanding of Hong Kong vis a vi China is that the Chinese allow a certain amount of economic freedom to Hong Kong in order to reap the benefits. Although Hong Kong might enjoy more freedom than the rest of China, there is no doubt that the Chinese do in fact own Hong Kong and Hong Kong is in fact part of China. I wonder if there will be any backlash against Hong Kong as a whole because of what Google is doing.

    In a nutshell it seems like they're saying, "Nahy nahy, we're in Hong Kong now. You can't touch us." That seems rather short sighted to me. On the other hand, they have a fairly defensible position. Would the Chinese risk looking like even more severe tyrants by disrupting the dynamics that govern companies in Hong Kong?

  • how difficult is it to gain unrestricted internet access in china ? do you have to be a computer hacker or can anyone download some sort of onion thingy and just browse ?

    • Unfortunately, most people consider "downloading some sort of onion thingy" to constitute "being a computer hacker".

      I'd bet that most Chinese don't even know that there is censorship.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rmm4pi8 (680224)

      I wasn't quite able to figure out the attitudes there. Where I was (Chengdu), everyone used anonymous proxies like crazy, and while they were quickly blocked more would spring up, with DNS/IPs often distributed on email lists. It was treated a bit like speeding in the U.S. I guess--technically illegal, best to avoid the cops, but everyone does it. I was using my corporate VPN as an easier access method, and even though VPNs are, as best I can tell, in the same sort of legal grey area, my usage really fre

    • by koxkoxkox (879667)

      For a simple access to a blocked website, it is possible to use proxies website, but you have to find new ones very regularly because they are blocked pretty fast.

      Tor is an option, I heard good reports about Freegate, but I don't know if it is still valid.

      The best way is to have a VPN, either by a geek friend elsewhere (not convenient for most Chinese) or a company like Witopia (but the prices are expensive compared to the cost of life here).

  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Monday March 22, 2010 @06:20PM (#31576476)

    Ever since Hong Kong return to China politicians and activists have tried to preserve the region's freedoms. The consensus seems to be that Hong Kong has been losing those freedoms, China has done a lot of meddling and the government has generally sided with the PRC. I don't recall the precise details but recently a number of politicians have openly protested China trying to exert more control. If I remember correctly, I think they suggested Hong Kong's politicians resigning en masse bringing about new elections with the hope that people would vote in those who would preserve the region's autonomy. I don't think much of anything came of it.

    From a business perspective Hong Kong is, without question, a far more mature market. They wont face the same kind of cut-throat market still rampant in China. The problem in China for Google isn't simply one of hackers. A company will try to set up a partnership with a Chinese company and that company will turn on them, stealing whatever they can in the process. And the foreign company will be powerless to do anything about it because the Chinese courts almost always side with their own companies. Punishments for Chinese companies tend to amount to a slap on the wrist. Some very successful people have gotten burned badly in China. Certainly, there's success to be had, but you'd better be vigilant and have a very trusted networks. I have friends who have dipped their toes in China and have decided that the potential for success wasn't worth the trouble.

    The nature of Google's business gives them the luxury of not having to be physically present in China. But the fact is that they still are in China, they're going to be facing many of the same issues they were facing in the mainland.

    If they were serious about making a statement they'd base themselves in Taiwan. But then again, the Taiwanese government probably doesn't want to get involved, especially given the current administration.

    • One of the big things China is banging on about is that Google needs to obey their laws. Ok, fine, they are. They are locating themselves in Hong Kong and obeying the law there, which as China will happily tell you is a part of China.

      May make people ask why China is being so bitchy if Google is IN China and obeying the laws. All one country... right?

  • Here's the new graphic Google is planning on using on their Hong Kong-based services for mainland China:
  • My daughter just moved to china to work for a year. Our family has a google app domain that we all use for email. Before she left I configured her laptop so she could send and receive mail but I'm worried that google's china dispute might escalate.

    Does anyone know the mechanism used by the "great firewall"? For example, if our MX records are aspmx.l.google.com (and from memory google run their SMTP/IMAP on non-standard ports too) is this likely to be caught up in a series of tit-for-tat blocking or will

  • by kamapuaa (555446) on Monday March 22, 2010 @10:34PM (#31578808) Homepage
    For what it's worth, because basically every single post in this discussion is wrong: 1) Hong Kong Google provides uncensored Internet search results. However, the websites themselves are still censored. For instance, using Hong Kong Google won't be a magic way to access blocked porn sites. Really the uncensored results are kind of a pain for normal use, it just means a bunch of broken links. 2) Hong Kong Google isn't anything new to China. Before Google set up a PRC Google, 3 years ago or so, that was the way PRC China users accessed Google. And for the past 3 years, Hong Kong Google has always been accessible. 3) Hong Kong is China, but the government in effect is guaranteed independence until 2047. Obviously there's some caveats and whatnot, but the PRC wouldn't just renege on this and tell HK Google what to do, because it would look bad internationally, and because they'd like Taiwan to agree to something similar. 4) Really, what this will do is slow Google searches by .03 seconds, and search results will provide a lot of links to websites that have been blocked (which if you're searching non-sensitive items in Chinese language, doesn't happen all that often - if you're searching non-sensitive English items, there are a fair number of false positives). I'm guessing a lot of localizations also will be lost or left undeveloped (for instance, Google Maps can tell you which subways to take to get around Shanghai).

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