Early this year, attacks that allegedly originated from China against Google and other major tech firms were revealed. The attacks against Google resulted in compromised email addresses and the theft of data.
The attacks led to a confrontation between Google and the Chinese government that eventually grew to involve the U.S. government and turned into a censorship battle. Ultimately, Google closed its Chinese site and redirected users to the Google Hong Kong page that was less filtered than the Chinese page.
Naturally, the Chinese government didn’t like the fact that Google was redirecting users to other webpages for search. With the operating license that allows Google to run search operations in China up for renewal soon, the search giant is suddenly backing off and no longer redirecting some users from the Google.cn page to the Google Hong Kong page automatically. For searchers who land on the Google.cn page to be redirected, they have to click the anywhere on the page.
Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond wrote in a blog post, "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." He also stated, "Without an ICP license, we can't operate a commercial website like Google.cn so Google would effectively go dark in China."
Google is trying to renew is the Internet Content Provider license that is required by every website that operates in China. Without the license, the website will not be available to the largest internet using market on the planet.
According to Reuters, the likelihood that Google is making this move without having talked to Chinese authorities would is remote. The action Google is taking is likely a result of negotiations between the search firm and China.