Google stops censoring results in China?

It appears that Google's search results are slowly letting a trickle of formerly censored material appear through the modified version of Google Search for China, according to a report from MSNBC, after Google on Tuesday finally announced that they would no longer abide by Beijing's Censorship rules.

Google announced in January that it would no longer censor results in compliance with the Chinese Government, and would be in talks with China to continue to operate out of Beijing, and had said that the results would not be changed, yet.

The "China Daily", a prominent Chinese publication, as well as Google itself, have said they have not implemented changes yet, though users of the search engine have found this is not the case, even though their search results are still very different from those performed in the US.

NBC tried searching for blocked content using Google.cn; the first search performed on the controversial phrase "Xinjiang independence" returned an illegal result as the first link. Additionally, when "Tibet Information Network" – a group that was critical about Chinese laws and policies – was searched for, it also showed identical results to the US version of Google.

When other similarly illegal searches such as "Tank man", "Tinanmen Square" and "June 7" were searched in Englisn/Chinese Characters by NBC, the results did not match US ones, but offered content that was previously not allowed by the government, showing the infamous picture of a Chinese man standing in front of tanks in Tinanmen square, 1989.

According to Jeremy Goldkorn from danwei.org, a website that tracks the internet as well as Chinese media, "no one knows exactly what's going [on]," and that "It does seem that the filters are not fully working." The results are very different from those found a few short months ago.

Scott Rubin, a Google spokesman in the US, said that the censorship hadn't stopped, and would not confirm if Google.cn would close or not. CEO Eric Schmidt said late last week that something would happen soon, but nobody would provide further comment.

MSNBC goes on to say that another Google spokesman suggested the change may have resulted from alterations made by the Chinese government, which seems unlikely.

The shutdown of Google services in China may have serious repercussions, as it holds 35% of the market share in the country, and the closure would result in no Google Maps on mobile phones, no Gmail, Google Docs, Picasa, or other Google-related web services either. Many businesses rely on these services, and would be forced to find others and rebuild on seperate platforms.

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