China lifts Google restrictions

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China lifts Google restrictions

China has lifted efforts to block access to Google's Web site that lasted for nearly two weeks and saw ISPs hijack the search engine's domain name for several days. However, there are signs that China has implemented more sophisticated techniques to restrict access to certain types of information.

Limited access to Google's Web site in China resumed yesterday (12 September). Blocking access to undesirable Web sites through the use of IP filters has been a common Chinese government tactic since the commercial Internet was first made available in the country in 1995. However, authorities raised the bar earlier this week, hijacking Google's domain name and rerouting traffic to several Chinese sites - a tactic that had not been previously employed.

While access to Google's main site is now possible, pages that return search results for sensitive keywords, such as "falun gong," a spiritual movement that has been banned, remain blocked. China also continues to block access to cached copies of Web pages stored by Google.

China appears to have move beyond simply blocking access to a Web site with IP filters and may now be employing packet filters to scan individual packets for undesirable information, Duncan Clark, managing director at telecommunication analyst BDA China, said. "You can get on Google but you might not get access to the results you want," Clark said.

Despite Chinese efforts to cut off access to Google, Beijing Web portal Netease.com has continued to use Google's search engine as the back end for Web searches conducted on its site, without interruption. Netease.com filters the search results from Google, the company said.

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