Google may soon find out whether or not the Chinese government is at peace with its decision to redirect searchers to Google.com.hk, judging by a new report. It turns out the company must soon receive official approval to keep its mapping services running in the country.
Loretta Chao wrote this afternoon, "[C]ompanies must demonstrate that they have systems in place to ensure that their maps, including disputed territories, are labeled in accordance with Chinese rules and that sensitive information like military addresses is removed."
That won’t be a cut-and-dry matter, though. Even if Google is willing to comply with China’s requests on a corporate level – which is of course a big, big "if" – the manner in which Google allows/encourages users to edit maps means something controversial could crop up at any moment.
So now we wait and see what happens. Chao reported, "An initial list of approved companies is expected to be announced later this month; a list of companies that haven’t complied with the new rules will be announced by the end of the year. Companies whose applications are denied won’t be allowed to continue offering online map services in China."
And Google’s market share would likely take another big hit if it isn’t able to provide such a basic tool.