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China Warns Google Advertisers to Obey Censorship Laws, or Else

There may be a “99.9 per cent” chance that Google is going to shut down its Chinese engine Google.cn, as we learned this weekend, and that presents its advertising partners with a tricky choice: Stick with the company with whom they’ve enjoyed past success and risk bannination in the Chinese market, or defect to Chinese search engines at the cost of familiarity — and freedom from censorship.

Now, according to the New York Times, the Chinese authorities have put their thumbs on the scale: They’ve warned Google’s partners that to play ball in China, they’re going to need to censor their search results, with or without Google.

The New York Times reports:

The Chinese government information authorities warned some of Google’s biggest Web partners on Friday that they should prepare backup plans in case Google ceases censoring the results of searches on its local Chinese-language search engine…

…Should they remain loyal to Google, the companies could satisfy government censors by filtering their customers’ searches themselves, excluding objectionable topics before relaying them to Google. But that option could prove difficult, especially for smaller companies, which would have to buy or develop software to do that job. It would be easier for most simply to switch to another search engine.

According to BusinessWeek, Chinese online ad companies are already nudging clients in the direction of rival search engines like Baidu and Sohu.com.

(NYTimes)

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