China’s Web Traffic Policy Has Many Parties’ Hands Tied

by Peter Koeppel on Feb 16, 2015 3:00:00 AM Digital Marketing

China’s_Web_Traffic_Policy_Has_Many_Parties’_Hands_Tied-620475-editedDoing business in China as a foreign company has never been easy, but it’s now getting harder for Google and other tech companies.

As a part of tightening internal security, the Chinese government has implemented stricter policies on Internet communication. This trend is a huge thorn in Google’s plans to help advertisers get in front of the Chinese audience—and can be troublesome to Chinese companies as well.

Blocking progress.

For example, biotechnology researchers in Beijing had difficulty repairing a high-tech microscope over the summer because they were blocked from being able to find the instructions online. Using Gmail for international companies has posed a problem—and finding the means to send a simple file is taking much too long.

With China’s new firewall, two messaging services Line and Kakao Talk suddenly became unusable. Other apps like Didi, Talk Box and Vower were also blocked. Twitter and Facebook, both based in America, have been censored for a long time.

Google lobbying for more freedom.

Google’s been at the forefront of lobbying for looser restrictions, but Beijing’s response has put more pressure on multinational technology companies. In July, officials raided Microsoft offices in four Chinese cities. They interrogated managers and copied large amounts of data. Qualcomm, a producer of computer chips and wireless technology patents, has also been a subject of inquiry for Chinese officials.

As a result, many companies have moved employees out of China and into regional hubs in more Web-friendly countries like Singapore. While they were willing to put up with the problems with the Internet during times when the economy was strong, the restrictions have become more of a hassle.

Google not happy with Chinese censorship. In 2010, Google shut down its servers in Mainland China so it could avoid the new online censorship rules. Instead, they directed Chinese users toward their unfiltered results from servers in Hong Kong. As a result, the Chinese Government blocked traffic from Hong Kong—and limited search by blocking Internet access to those who used a long list of banned Chinese characters (including their national leaders’ names).

Google then began to encrypt users’ search terms using https, and this made it more difficult for Chinese censors to understand which terms and characters were being searched.

In May 2014, the government blocked virtually all access to Google websites. What’s more, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr are also blocked in China, according to a report by ABC News.

Image by Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Peter Koeppel president of Koeppel Direct.

Peter Koeppel's blog
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