Google's license has been renewed by the Chinese government. The Google-China relationship has been rocky following a cyber-attack that targeted Google's infrastructure including Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents.
Google's Internet Content Provider License has been renewed by the mainland
Chinese government, reported the search-engine giant, two days after Beijing
officials reported that the application was under review but with no firm
deadline for approval. The relationship between Beijing
and Google has been rocky in recent months, following a March cyber-attack that
the company insisted originated from mainland China.
"We are very pleased that the government has renewed our ICP license and we
look forward to continuing to provide web search and local products to our
users in China," David Drummond, Google's senior vice president of corporate
development and chief legal officer, wrote in a
July 9 update on the Official Google Blog.
"It's clear from conversations we have had with Chinese government officials
that they find the redirect unacceptable-and that if we continue redirecting
users our Internet Content Provider License will not be renewed," Drummond
wrote in a June 28 blog posting. "Without an ICP license, we can't operate a
commercial Website like Google.cn-so Google would effectively go dark in China."
400 million Web users constitute a huge market for Google's products, its
government's attempts at censorship have led the company to engage in some very
public soul-searching. That already-fraught relationship became even more
brittle in March, after hackers supposedly within China
targeted the IT infrastructure of Google and some 20 other companies. Targets
included Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents; an enraged Google initially
threatened to stop censoring results on Google.cn, before compromising with the
Searches on Google.hk are likely still affected by China's
keyword filtering. "Even if a user in China
uses search queries that are not filtered by China
and retrieves results from Google's .hk version, they will still be affected by
filtering if they click on the link and try and view those results directly,"
censorship expert Nart Villeneuve wrote in a
March posting on his blog. "Users in China
will be affected by China's
filtering, not Google's. The difference is in the user's experience-instead of
retrieving results and carrying on as if censorship did not exist, the user now
experiences censorship firsthand."
While Beijing's approval of
Google's license suggests a bit of a thaw between the two, the future likely
holds more twists and turns in their relationship.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.