Photo: Flickr / loiclemur
Google has quietly removed a feature that warned Chinese citizens when they were searching for terms banned by the Chinese government, reports Chinese censorship watchdog site, Greatfire.org.For instance, when people tried to search for the term “freedom” from mainland China, they would get a pop-warning from Google that said, “We’ve observed that searching for [freedom] in mainland China may break your connection to Google for a short while. This interruption is outside of Google’s control,” and it would give the person the option to change the search term or search anyway.
At some point in the first week of December, the warning stopped being displayed and the help article that explained how to use the feature was removed. This after months of games over it, where the Chinese government found ways to disable it and Google found ways to bring the warning back.
Google and the Chinese government have been battling it out over the censorship issue for years, since Google began offering its search service in the country in 2006. The government would disconnect users from the Internet when they attempted to view politically sensitive material and Google would counter with workarounds. This warning was Google’s latest attempt, added in May.
But now it looks like Google has conceded defeat, writes Josh Halliday at the Guardian. Halliday quotes a source in China that said Google concluded it was “counterproductive” to continue the fight.