Google has announced that China has renewed its ICP license, allowing the search giant to continue to operate google.com.cn.
Google made a lot of headlines earlier in the year when it claimed it had been the victim of a cyber attack originating from China. The attacks led Google to the decision that it would no longer censor search results on Google.cn. On March 22, the search giant officially stopped censoring search results for Google.cn. Instead, the company started redirecting all users visiting .com.cn to Google's .com.hk portal where uncensored results could be viewed in simplified Chinese.
At the time, Google's David Drummond, Senior VP of Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, admitted that it had been difficult to make good on their promise to stop censoring search.
"We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement," said Dummond. "We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from Google.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we've faced—it's entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China."
However, Drummond warned that China could still block access to Google services from Mainland China. Indeed, Google announced back in June that China wasn't happy with the arrangement. Drummond wrote last month that China was considering not renewing Google's ICP license.
"It’s clear from conversations we have had with Chinese government officials that they find the redirect unacceptable," Drummond wrote in a blog post. "If we continue redirecting users our Internet Content Provider license will not be renewed (it’s up for renewal on June 30)," he explained. "Without an ICP license, we can’t operate a commercial website like Google.cn—so Google would effectively go dark in China."
However, it appears China has in fact renewed the ICP license. Google today updated Dummond's June post with the following statement:
"We are very pleased that the government has renewed our ICP license and we look forward to continuing to provide web search and local products to our users in China."