China blocks main Google site

By Derek Sooman on June 7, 2006, 2:35 PM
The Chinese government has blocked domestic access to the main Google site, Google.com. Google.cn, the controversial Chinese language version launched in January, is of course still available. The difference? Well, I think that searching for "tiananmen square protests" on both sites will yield very different results.

This was, of course, all expected. China has worked with Google to provide a Chinese version of the site that complies with state censorship laws, so it was only natural that the main international site, Google.com, was going to get turned off at some point.

"It was only to be expected that Google.com would be gradually sidelined after the censored version was launched in January," Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.

"Google has just definitively joined the club of Western companies that comply with online censorship in China," the organisation said.

Its not just Google that have been forced to comply with the censorship demands of the Chinese - US companies Microsoft, Yahoo and Cisco Systems have all been only too keen to accommodate the nation's demands for Net censorship in return for access to its huge internet market.

These developments concern me greatly - they represent a fundamental shift in the nature of the Internet as one of the last bastions of free speech in the modern world, forcing the Net to become dominated by the will of big business and big political regimes. The door is now open - the Net is censored, and itís probably not going to be too long before more "unsuitable" content is hidden from someone out there, even you and me.

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