Web users in China have been able to access English and Chinese-language search services at Google.com for several years (with the exception of several weeks in November 2004 when China blocked www.google.com). Chinese authorities have used filtering technologies to block users in China from accessing Google's cache, as well as Google News, and restrict users' searches by filtering for specific banned keywords. Google did not censor its own search results, however, as the system operated independently of Google and at China's backbone level.
On January 25 2006, Google launched Google.cn, a self-censored Chinese-language search service, a policy shift which follows Yahoo! and Microsoft's recent decisions to provide censored Internet services in compliance with Chinese state censorship policies. Google informs its users when their search results have been filtered (to date, Microsoft and Yahoo!'s Chinese search services do not), and provides users with a link to the unfiltered Google.com home page.
The filtering takes place in at least three ways:
To help understand how the results of Google.com and Google.cn differ, the OpenNet Initiative has assembled a tool that lets you simultaneously compare search results. Enter any search term into the box below, or select a sample keyword, click submit, and see for yourself the differences between a censored and an open Internet.