Google Hit With China Fallout

Telecom partners in the People's Republic abandon search giant amid censorship controversy.

Paul McDougall, Editor At Large, InformationWeek

March 25, 2010

2 Min Read

Google is facing fallout over its decision to discontinue its search offering in China in response to the People's Republic's ongoing insistence that it censor its service there.

Motorola, China Unicom, and Tom Online are among the companies that plan to stop using Google tools on products and services in the Chinese market, according to a number of published reports this week.

Motorola has yanked Google search from its Android-powered Zhishang mobile device, which it developed for China Telecom. Officials from China Unicom, meanwhile, told reporters in Hong Kong that it will no longer offer Google search on its phones.

Also, Bloomberg reported that Tom Online, a mobile Internet service provider controlled by billionaire Li Ka-shing, pulled the Google search box from its home page.

While some of the moves hint of political retribution, the fact is that it would be impractical for Chinese service providers to carry Google search, given that the company has announced its intention to discontinue search services from the Chinese mainland.

Google and the Chinese government are at odds over the fact that China forces Internet companies that operate within its boundaries to block politically sensitive material from showing up on Web searches.

Google has also accused authorities in the People's Republic of organizing cyber-attacks on its servers.

To get around the rules, Google earlier this week switched off its service, and is redirecting queries made on that site to uncensored search services originating in Hong Kong, where the company operates

"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," said David Drummond, Google's senior VP for corporate development and chief legal officer, in a blog post earlier this week.

"Figuring out how to make good on our promise to stop censoring search on has been hard," said Drummond.

"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," said Drummond.

Investors have for the most part shrugged off news about Google's China imbroglio. Shares of the company were up 2.18%, to $569.46, in late-morning trading Thursday.

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About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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