China’s Ministry Of Information has renewed Google’s license to operate in the country – but only after the search engine agreed to no longer automatically redirect users to its uncensored Hong Kong site.
Instead, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has restored the Google.cn homepage it took down earlier this year. But, in keeping with its refusal to censor its web search, the search results will be limited to music, products and translation, not web pages. Google is adding a link to this homepage, pointing to Google.com.hk, so that Chinese can choose whether to perform uncensored web search outside of China.
It’s a compromise with three effects…
1) It absolves Google of any burden associated with accessing censored information — in line with its earlier refusal.
2) It would seem to transfer culpability for accessing that information to citizens themselves who click through to the Hong Kong site.
3) It leaves several search opportunities still on the table for Google in China, and a much greater one in Hong Kong, but a reduced web search bonanza in the People’s Republic.
A Google spokesperson tells paidContent:UK: “We asked the government to renew our license on the basis that we would make some products — which don