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Chinese Searches Hijacked

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Domains containing the word “search” in China were hijacked yesterday… pointing to search engine Baidu (and partly, another government website).

Competition that was redirected this way included Microsoft Live.com (because results are showing on search.live.com), Yahoo.com (results are on search.yahoo.com), and Google Blog search (blogsearch.google.cn). Even some more exotic pages, like www.search.ibm.com.cn, were suffering from this hijacking. According to a source which I will keep anonymous here, the problem started around 1 am Beijing time on Wednesday. I don’t know if the problem persists, your comments are welcome.


The Baidu homepage

Chinese DNS servers are under government control though it is unclear whether this was a conscious attempt to give more exposure to Baidu, or if it was a misconfiguration of some sort. Baidu.cn is certainly a “government-friendly” search engine (and Google’s #1 enemy in China, even though Google once had a stake in the company). Then again, to some degree so are others like Google.cn or Yahoo.cn, as they also receive certain orders from Beijing. E.g. Google displays an ICP – Internet Content Provider – number badge on its Chinese frontpage, and its local partner Tianya shows Chinese police avatars on their pages every now and then. But there may well be degrees of gov’t-friendliness among these Chinese search competitors.

In other, perhaps related news, Google YouTube released a Hong Kong version (as it’s not Mainland China it’s forced into much less restrictions)… and now there are reports coming in that YouTube is too blocked in China.

[Thanks 徐杰, Keith Chan, A., Ken Wong and Manoj Nahar!]

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