Last night, Google shut down its China search engine, Google.cn. Visitors to Google.cn are now redirected to Google’s Chinese-language service based in Hong Kong, Google.com.hk.
Google has now set up a censorship dashboard for Google services in China that shows which services are blocked.
As Ron Deibert of CitizenLab tweeted, “It’s no ONI report, nor Herdict, but interesting anyway.”
In a statement posted to Google’s official blog, David Drummond explained the new approach to China. Google had previously announced on January 12 that it would no longer stand by a 2006 deal with the Chinese government after it was the target of hacker attacks that it attributed to China.
“CDT applauds Google for following through on its commitment to protect human rights and for its continued effort to enable China’s people with unfiltered access to robust sources of information from all over the world,” said Leslie Harris, President and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technolog.
“Whether the Chinese people will be able to take advantage of Google search now rests squarely with the Chinese government. If China allows access to unfiltered search, it will be a substantial win for global Internet freedom and for the Chinese people. If China blocks access, it will finally make clear to the Chinese people who is pulling the levers of censorship in the country.”
“It is certainly a historic moment,” said Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet project at the University of California, Berkeley, quoted in “Google Shuts China Site in Dispute Over Censorship,” in the New York Times. “The Internet was seen as a catalyst for China being more integrated into the world. The fact that Google cannot exist in China, clearly indicates that China’s path as a rising power is going in a direction different from what the world expected and what many Chinese were hoping for.”
As the Ryan Singel reports in his post on Epicenter blog at Wired, “Google Uncensors Chinese Search Engine,” “now a search on June 4, the day of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, returns 226 million results. Formerly that search, and thousands of other terms like it, had limited results and a notification to users that search results had been hidden due to the rules of China’s Communist government.”
Now, Chinese Internet users are braced to lose Google, as Kathryn Hille reports in the Financial Times. Bobbie Johnson is liveblogging further developments and statements regarding the shutdown of Google’s search engine in China at the Guardian.
Rebecca McKinnon is also tweeting news and reactions from China. MacKinnon’s interview with Google’s David Drummond on Google and China is a must-read.
UPDATE: Danny Sullivan has also weighed in: “Google Stops Censoring In China, Hopes Using New Domain Meets Legal Requirements.”