Google stops censoring itself in China, uses 'entirely legal' work-around

Google and the Chinese government have been going back and forth for a while now, with China wanting Google to continue censoring its search results (with a number of Google's sites, such as Blogger and YouTube, blocked entirely), while Google has been resistant to keep doing so. The search giant's hesitation, pinpointed in a post on Google's official blog, came after "Gmail accounts of dozens of human rights activists connected with China were being routinely accessed by third parties" for nefarious purposes. Today, Google has come to a decision and announced that it will stop censoring its search in the country and offer an Internet experience without borders, against the wishes of the Chinese government.

From Google:

So earlier today we stopped censoring our search services--Google Search, Google News, and Google Images--on Google.cn. Users visiting Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk, where we are offering uncensored search in simplified Chinese, specifically designed for users in mainland China and delivered via our servers in Hong Kong. Users in Hong Kong will continue to receive their existing uncensored, traditional Chinese service, also from Google.com.hk. Due to the increased load on our Hong Kong servers and the complicated nature of these changes, users may see some slowdown in service or find some products temporarily inaccessible as we switch everything over.

Figuring out how to make good on our promise to stop censoring search on Google.cn has been hard. 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.

The Hong Kong work-around Google speaks of may be legal, but it certainly won't stop the Chinese government from putting the kibosh on the service altogether when it comes to the mainland. If — or most likely when — that does happen, it'll be interesting to see how Google responds.

Google goes on to add, somewhat ominously, that "we would like to make clear that all these decisions have been driven and implemented by our executives in the United States, and that none of our employees in China can, or should, be held responsible for them."

Read Google's full statement by following the link below.

Google, via Boing Boing