Google has lined up with the other major internet search engines and is helping the Chinese government to censor the search material available to internet users in China.
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Google is to launch a dedicated Chinese version of its search engine which will block material deemed by the Chinese government to be against the national interest, including material linked to pro-democracy supporters.
Google said the search engine would allow users to try and search for whatever they liked in the home page, but the results would comply with national laws covering what was legal to view in the country.
As a result, where material is deemed not to comply with these laws, users will be told in the search results that material has been blocked.
Currently, Chinese Google users and others trying to access western news websites find that their search session is either slow, timed out, or blocked altogether.
Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL all said that they already censor their search results for potentially the biggest internet market in the world.
Google will also not be offering its Gmail or Blogger service to Chinese users, as part of its compliance with Chinese laws.
Human rights group Reporters Without Borders has criticised Google for its decision.
“By offering a version without ‘subversive’ content, Google is making it easier for Chinese officials to filter the internet themselves. A website not listed by search engines has little chance of being found by users,” said Reporters Without Borders.
“The new Google version means that even if a human rights publication is not blocked by local firewalls, it has no chance of being read in China.”
Ironically, Google has been praised by privacy advocates and internet users for, so far, fighting the US government’s request for random web search data, to be used for proposed new anti porn laws. Yahoo, Microsoft’s MSN and AOL have already complied with the government request.