Google Chinese news censorship demonstrated

2004 Sep. 16, Bill Xia, Dynamic Internet Technology Inc.

On Sept. 15, 2004, a DynaWeb volunteer reported that Google's Chinese news returned different results depending whether the search was conducted in China or in the U.S. Today, we were able to confirm this report through proxies in China. Search results inside China do not contain news from blocked sites such as www.epochtimes.com.au.

We started our search with http://news.google.com/news?hl=zh-CN&ned=cn. We recorded the result for the search string "Ʒ", which happens to be the name of a Chinese poet who lives in the U.S. After clicking "" (search news), the url returned is: http://news.google.com/news?hl=zh-CN&ned=cn&q=%E8%92%8B%E5%93%81%E8%B6%85&btnG=%E6%90%9C%E7%B4%A2%E6%96%B0%E9%97%BB

When searching from the U.S., 3 entries were returned:
http://www.epochtimes.com.au/gb/4/9/16/n663372.htm http://www7.chinesenewsnet.com/gb/MainNews/EntDigest/Showbuz/2004_8_23_9_20_38_553.html
http://www.epochtimes.com.au/gb/4/8/24/n638236.htm


You can view the results page we saved here. The screen shot is here.

When we used a proxy in China to simulate the search from inside China, zero results were returned. You can view the result page we saved here and the screen shot here. Here is the screen shot of how the proxy was configured for this test.

All search data was taken around 5:50pm , Sep. 16, 2004 US Eastern time

Other keywords were tested. On the first page, any entry from http://www.epochtimes.com.au or http://www7.chinesenewsnet.com are not shown when searching with a proxy inside China.

One tip for those who want to reproduce this with other keywords: Do not use high profile keywords like Falun Gong or "religious freedom". They will trigger the national firewall in China and disconnect you from Google or from the proxy you are using depending on where you are and how you are doing the search. You can use dissidents' or writers' name who publish articles or are reported on oversea websites.

If you triggered the keyword blocking, you can try to find another proxy and change your IP by restarting your computer or logging off and logging back in. For technical details of this kind of keyword blocking of China's national firewall, please refer to this report.

For further questions, you can contact us at contact@dit-inc.us .