Google’s motto might be “do no evil” but this week’s decision to discontinue its policy of redirecting Web traffic in mainland China to its Hong Kong site to bypass the country’s penchant for censoring content smacks more of a different motto: “Show us the money.”
As Datamation reports, Google’s commercial license is up for renewal Wednesday and without it, Google would go dark in the world’s most populous and economically intriguing nation. So Google’s backed off from the hard-line stance it took earlier this year following a number of high-profile hacking incidents originating in China targeted it and other prominent U.S. companies.
Now, Google is phasing out the automatic redirect, which came under sharp criticism from Chinese officials at the time it was implemented and ultimately proved untenable for Google to continue operating with an Internet Content Provider license on the mainland, the company said.
Instead, Google has set up a landing page on Google.cn that links to the Hong Kong site, offering Chinese users the full complement of Google’s online services while offering unfiltered, local content.
At risk of losing its commercial license to operate in China, Google is taking a step back from its tough stance against online censorship in that country.
The search giant announced late Monday that it will no longer automatically redirect Web users in mainland China to the Hong Kong version of its site where it operates beyond the scope of Chinese censorship laws.
“This redirect, which offers unfiltered search in simplified Chinese, has been working well for our users and for Google,” David Drummond, Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) chief legal officer, wrote in a blog post. “However, it’s clear from conversations we have had with Chinese government officials that they find the redirect unacceptable — and that if we continue redirecting users our Internet Content Provider license will not be renewed.”