Google gives China netizens new ammo,ways to bypass censors

Google has fired a new salvo in a censorship battle with Beijing by adding a feature that warns users in China who enter search keywords that might produce blocked results and suggests they try other terms

Written by Associated Press | Beijing | Published: June 2, 2012 1:28 am

Google has fired a new salvo in a censorship battle with Beijing by adding a feature that warns users in China who enter search keywords that might produce blocked results and suggests they try other terms.

Google’s announcement Thursday described the change as a technical improvement and made no mention of Beijing’s extensive Internet controls. But it comes after filters were tightened so severely in recent weeks that searches fail for some restaurants,universities or tourist information. The latest tightening of controls were prompted by a flurry of rumours online about the downfall of Bo Xilai,party secretary of city of Chongqing in the southwest.

Google Inc. closed its China-based search engine in 2010 to avoid cooperating with government censorship. Mainland users can see its Chinese-language site in Hong Kong but the connection breaks if they search for sensitive terms. The new feature will alert users if they enter a search term that “may temporarily break your connection to Google,’’ said a blog post by a Google senior vice president,Alan Eustace. He said it will suggest they “try other search terms.’’

“By prompting people to revise their queries,we hope to reduce these disruptions and improve our user experience from mainland China,’’ Eustace wrote.

Google cited as an example the Chinese character “jiang,’’ or river,without mentioning it is the name of former President Jiang Zemin,the possible reason results are blocked. It says the site will recommend removing the character.

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