Breaking News: China renews Google’s internet licence

China confirms it has renewed Google’s internet licence.  Making the announcement on Google’s company blog, chief legal officer David Drummond said:

We are very pleased that the government has renewed our ICP licence and we look forward to continuing to provide web search and local products to our users in China.

Google’s relationship with China has been strained since it announced in March that it would no longer censor its search services in China. Instead it began to redirect Chinese users to Google’s unfiltered Hong Kong site. In a bid to have its licence renewed last month the company redesigned its landing page. Instead of automatically redirecting them to the Hong Kong site, it now offers them a link to instead. Google chief legal officer David Drummond defended the change in direction saying that “Without an ICP licence, we can’t operate a commercial website like—so Google would effectively go dark in China.”

Google rules

Today David Drummond announced on behalf of Google that it would no longer be censoring its search services in China. As a result, Chinese users are now being redirected to Google’s servers in Hong Kong. The following interviews between Drummond and Rebecca MacKinnon were conducted prior to the announcement, they give a much needed insight into Google’s thinking (more…)

The new free expression debates

On the morning of Monday 12 October, Index on Censorship will be teaming up with Policy Exchange and Google to discuss free expression and the Internet. Later that day, Liberty and Index on Censorship will stage Protest! an exciting event encouraging students to exercise their right to free speech, with special guest Sir Hugh Orde, head of the Association of Chief Police Officers

Why, people might sensibly ask, is Index on Censorship engaging with one of the world’s leading technology corporations and one of Britain’s top police chiefs? The answer is because we no longer see free expression only through the traditional prism of outright state censorship of or violence against writers and journalists.