July 7, 2010

Google Still Remains Without License In China

A company spokeswoman and government official said Wednesday that Google's application for renewal of its license to operate in China is still under review.

Google is awaiting word that its Internet Content Provider (ICP) license is still valid.

Google China spokeswoman Marsha Wang said that its ICP license remains valid as long as the government has not expressly rejected it.

"The license runs till 2012. The license needs to be checked every year," Wang told AFP.

"Everything will be as usual if the company passes the check," she said, however adding that the government could opt to cancel the license ahead of the 2012 deadline.

"We have not received any information that it is invalid now," Wang said.

An official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology told AFP that Google's application was still under consideration.

"We need time to review because they submitted the documents quite late," said the official, who asked not to be named. He added that he could not say when a reply could be expected.

Last week, Google said that it would stop automatically redirecting Chinese users to an unfiltered site in Hong Kong, which is a process it started in March in response to state censorship and cyber attacks.

All mainland users are now directed to a new landing page on google.cn, which links to the Hong Kong site.

"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," Google's chief legal officer David Drummond said on the company's official blog.

"Without an ICP license, we can't operate a commercial website like google.cn -- so Google would effectively go dark in China," he said.

"This new approach is consistent with our commitment not to self-censor and, we believe, with local law."

China holds the world's largest Internet market with over 400 million users.


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