Google's Bold China Move

A little over two months ago, Google declared that it had been the victim of a massive hacker attack originating within China, and had decided as a result that it would no longer participate in government-imposed self-censorship within mainland China. It said it would discuss its next steps with the Chinese government, and while the company hasn't disclosed the nature of those discussions, we now know their upshot: Google has shut down its censored Chinese version and is now giving mainlanders an uncensored search engine in Simplified Chinese, delivered from its servers in Hong Kong.

The Chinese government, of course, may decide to block this new version of Google, as it does many other uncensored sources of information. If it does, we'll know about it: Google has a new page up that shows the status of its various services on the mainland.

At the moment, Web search, image search, news, ads, and Gmail are up; YouTube, Sites, and Blogger are down; and Docs, Picasa, and Groups are partially blocked:

Whatever happens next, I'm glad that Google made good on its January promise. Tech companies like to explain their willingness to censor in China by saying that they follow the laws of the countries they do business in. Google says that its new uncensored engine is legal in China-wonder if Microsoft, Yahoo, or any other American company that currently offers censored services there will launch something similar?

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