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[liberationtech] Google Bows Down To Chinese Government On Censorship

Martin Johnson greatfire at
Thu Jan 10 04:22:30 PST 2013

I am in China.

Google is said to have a 5% market share in China. There are at least 500
million Internet users so that makes for about 25 million users. The number
of users using VPNs or circumvention tools is unknown but likely much
smaller. For example, Twitter is estimated to have less than 20,000 active
users in China (

Commercial VPNs require credit cards to sign up and are used by very few.
Free circumvention tools like FreeGate reach many more but are also
continuously targeted by authorities making them slow and unstable. Users
who can circumvent the GFW do not always do it. Connecting is slow and, for
running a general Google search, unnecessary.

All this means that Google's user experience without a VPN matters a lot.
Because of the decision they took in December, that user experience got

The users Wired talked to were not representative of Chinese netizens. As
for the Techcrunch statements, "sources suggest" doesn't make it true. But
it is true that "since the notification feature was implemented, access to
Google’s search engine in China has been blocked more often than usual".
That is, it was blocked once (on November 9) as opposed to "usual" which is
that it isn't blocked. This blocking being part of Google's decision to
disable the feature was exactly the argument that we were making. The
authorities blocked Google and likely used this and the threat
to permanently block it to pressure Google into doing their bidding.

Martin Johnson
Founder - Monitoring Online Censorship In China. - Uncensored, Anonymous Sina Weibo Search. - We Can Unblock Your Website In China.

On Thu, Jan 10, 2013 at 8:01 PM, Maxim Kammerer <mk at> wrote:

> On Thu, Jan 10, 2013 at 1:03 PM, Martin Johnson <greatfire at>
> wrote:
> > Yes, the question is what you call "working well". The censorship-warning
> > feature added last year was clearly improving the user experience.
> Removing
> > it worsened the user experience again.
> Is this backed up by actual user experiences from China?
> “When spoke to a few Chinese residents about the disabled
> Google feature, they were not even aware of it because they used VPNs,
> demonstrating Google might not be taking into account just how savvy
> its users are at all.” [1]
> “Sources close to the matter suggest Google pulled the feature because
> it was making it more difficult for users to access its search
> services. […] However, since the notification feature was implemented,
> access to Google’s search engine in China has been blocked more often
> than usual […] meaning even fewer users were able to use Google
> search.” [2]
> [1]
> [2]
> --
> Maxim Kammerer
> Liberté Linux:
> --
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