The clash between Google and the Chinese government appears to be coming to a head. Various sources have reported that Google ignored a cut-off date to reregister as an Internet content provider in China, and more importantly, that the company has stopped censoring search results.
Let’s get the paperwork-related story out of the way first. Charles Arthur wrote this morning, "Google missed a deadline to re-register as an ‘internet content provider’ (ICP) in China last night, which observers say is a sign that it is preparing to shut down its search engine there."
As for the news related to Google.cn and a lack of censorship, something has definitely occurred. Following some tests, Adrienne Mong wrote, "Web sites dealing with subjects such as the Tiananmen Square democracy protests, Tibet and regional independence movements could all be accessed through Google’s Chinese search engine Tuesday . . ."
Other people have seen uncensored results, too, although filters apparently kick in on occasion.
Google’s stayed pretty tight-lipped during all of this. One spokesperson told Arthur that the company actually has until the end of March to reregister. Another told Mong that nothing’s changed. So it’s possible that we’re just seeing a case of deadline confusion strike at the same time as some technical problems.
Google may have finally taken a stand with regards to censorship in China, though, and is just daring the Chinese government to challenge its position.
We’ll be sure to stay on top of this situation as it develops.