Chinese Government Renews Google License Despite Recent Stricter Internet Control

By: Qichen Zhang on 12 September 2011
Posted in China, Asia

It's been a busy week for the Chinese government in terms of Internet patrol. On Wednesday, the government renewed Google's Internet Content Provider license for another year, as confirmed in a Google rep's email, and granted the tech mammoth an extension to continue operating in the country. This perhaps indicates improved relations between the search company and the Chinese government, who nearly cancelled Google's ICP in the summer of 2010 when negotiations between them almost failed to reach a resolution concerning Google.cn's search results. But even though Google is allowed to provide its services to the Chinese, they still remain second place to the native and preferred engine Baidu, according to Search Engine Watch.

The latest development in Internet regulation seems to be only as a small spark of hopeful leniency in a continual censorship struggle between the government and the Chinese online community, however. Two weeks ago, popular microblogging platform Weibo operators announced that they suspended the accounts of 200 million users who they deemed to have "spread unfounded rumors," provoking protest and online unrest. According to the LA Times, the warnings Weibo sent out to these users stated the following describing the reason and length of suspension: "For sending out false information, the user's account will be suspended and will not publish posts or be followed for one month."

And at the 10th annual China Internet Conference in Beijing on August 23, it was announced that Internet caf├ęs would install new user tracking software and that Taobao, a popular e-commerce website, would stop selling VPNs to accommodate government orders, as reported by IFEX. Chinese media, on the other hand, maintain that creating a "healthy and cultural Internet environment" remains one of the key goals of the government and that under the theme of "Connecting China, Responsibility, and Viability," the nation plans to increase its online infrastructure for economic benefits.