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Google agreed to follow Chinese censorship laws before license renewal: official

A Chinese government official announced Tuesday that Google [corporate website; JURIST news archive] has agreed to abide by the country's censorship laws and stop automatically redirecting users to its uncensored Hong Kong-based site. Ministry of Industry and Information Technology spokesperson Zhang Feng, speaking at a press conference, said that the agreement allowed [UKPA report] the Chinese government to renew Google's Internet Content Provider (ICP) license. The agreement with Google, according to Zhang, will prevent users from accessing information that will compromise national security, damage national interests or spread hatred. According to a spokesperson for the internet company, the agreement will not require Google to censor [AFP report] its China or Hong Kong based websites, and will allow the company to keep several of its services available to Chinese users. The Chinese government confirmed earlier this month that it had renewed Google's ICP license [Xinhua report], allowing the company to continue operating within the country. In June, Google announced that it would stop redirecting [JURIST report] Internet users in mainland China to its unfiltered search engine in Honk Kong in an effort to renew the company's ICP license. In March, Google began redirecting users [JURIST report] from its google.cn search engine to google.com.hk [websites] after reaching a legal impasse with the Chinese government over censoring search results. The redirect allowed Google to maintain a presence in mainland China without having to filter search results. The Chinese government claimed that Google did not uphold agreements the company had made when it entered the Chinese market in 2006 and that the company "violated its written promise" when it ceased censoring Internet searches.

In February, China issued new regulations tightening restrictions on Internet use [JURIST report] by requiring citizens operating websites to submit identity cards and meet with regulators before their sites can be registered. The new policies came amid negotiations with Google regarding the Internet company's January threat to discontinue operations in China [JURIST report] due to the country's overarching Internet censorship. Google's action was in response to a cyber attack on its Gmail service in December, which targeted the e-mail accounts of human rights activists in China and drew the ire of rights groups around the world. Google indicated that it would work with the Chinese government to find a way to allow an, "unfiltered search engine within the law as well," but also noted that if an agreement cannot be reached, it would close its offices there and shut down its google.cn website. China responded by reiterating its commitment [JURIST report] to open Internet, but stressed that international Internet companies must follow Chinese law.

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