Google has spent the past few months aggressively tackling privacy concerns both at home and abroad, and confirmed Wednesday that its search engine has been blocked partially in mainland China.
The timing here is significant because Wednesday is also the deadline for when the Internet giant was slated to seek an extension of its license to operate in China.
Previously, users in China who try to access Google.cn automatically have been linked to Google.com.hk. The redirect, according to Google, hasn’t been up to par for Chinese officials, who have now pulled the plug on the company’s Internet Content Provider license.
Google’s blockage affects queries that appear via Google Suggest, or the automatic word or phrase suggestion that pops up when a few letters are entered into the search box, according to The New York Times.
In its blog post from Monday, Google said it has “done the best to increase access to information while abiding by Chinese law,” despite pressure from the Chinese government to censor the Google site in the country, Google.cn.
Google says it was looking at possible alternatives, which include taking a “small percentage” of users to a landing page which then links to the Hong Kong site, which is not subject to filtering.
“This approach ensures we stay true to our commitment not to censor our results on Google.cn and gives users access to all of our services from one page,” according to Google's Monday blog post.
While Google’s apparent tug-of-war with China has been ongoing since the beginning of the year, many continue to support the company for standing its ground. The rerouting to the Hong Kong site that started three months ago was the latest in Google’s attempts to tiptoe China’s stringent censorship laws.