Monday, June 4, 2012

Google Notifying Chinese Users When Search Term Might Trigger China's Internet Blocks

Nice move by Google. It is nice to see them make a move against China's censorship. It is not provocative enough to get them in much trouble, but it gives the user valuable information.

"Google has begun notifying Chinese users when they are using search terms that can trigger China's Internet blocks, in its boldest challenge in two years to Beijing's efforts to restrict online content.

The search giant unveiled on its Chinese site this week a new mechanism that identifies political and other sensitive terms that are censored by Chinese authorities.

For example, when users search for keywords like "carrot" -- which contains the character for Chinese president Hu Jintao's surname -- a yellow dropdown message says: "We've observed that searching for 'hu' in mainland China may temporarily break your connection to Google. This interruption is outside Google's control."
Google says it hopes the alerts "will help improve the search experience in mainland China," where Google's search and other services have been unstable since it entered a public spat with Chinese authorities over censorship over two years ago. A Google spokesman declined to comment further.

Chinese officials do not discuss their Internet restrictions, and its search terms are treated as state secrets. In its post, Google said the trigger terms were identified based on reviews of the outcomes of the 350,000 most popular search queries in China, not an official list.

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