The Google-China censorship saga has reached a new phase. Google has ceded some ground on the libertarian balance and will notify users in China that certain pages have been censored.
The Internet search giant Google has announced, via its official blog, that it will change the way in which its service functions in China. Google will now issue an alert to users when they key in search terms which are likely to trigger a block from the Chinese authorities (a strategy which has been called the "Great Firewall of China").
The BBC reports that Google has also gone further and the search engine will suggest certain search terms which could allow the user to avoid censorship.
What typically happens when the Chinese government blocks a search term, as the Economic Times notes, is that the web user is confronted with the message "this webpage is not available" or "'the connection was reset". The user is also unable to use the web browser for several minutes.
According to The Guardian, this change of approach is "likely to further strain already tense relations between the internet giant and Beijing."
The extent to which Google's actions were ideological or economical is debatable. According to the Sacramento Bee Google's market share in mainland China has fallen to around 17 percent from a high of 35.6 percent as a result of users becoming frustrated with blocked websites and timeouts.
The relationship between Google and China has been tumultuous. This latest development is unlikely to add any stability to the on-going saga.