China orders Google to suspend foreign site searches

Google was ordered to remove all links to 'vulgar' content, state media said

China has ordered Google to suspend its foreign Web site search service after warning that the company's filtering of pornography was too weak, state media said Friday.

Google was also ordered to revamp its service immediately and remove all links to pornographic and "vulgar" material, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The Google function that suggests search keywords as users type stopped working on google.cn during the day on Friday, though it still worked in the country on google.com. Google was also ordered to remove that ability, the report said.

The function was shown to recommend suggestive terms based on mundane inputs during a news program broadcast by state-owned CCTV a day earlier. The station showed Google suggesting "illicit mother-son relations" as a search phrase in Chinese when a user typed in the word "son."

A government-backed Internet watchdog also condemned Google for "disseminating pornography and vulgar information" from abroad on Thursday.

Xinhua did not explain the demand to end search services for foreign Web sites.

A Google spokeswoman confirmed the company had met with Chinese officials Thursday to discuss problems with its China search service.

"We are undertaking a thorough review of our service and taking all necessary steps to fix any problems with our results," the spokeswoman said in an e-mail. "This has been a substantial engineering effort, and we believe we have addressed the large majority of the problem results."

Google will continue to meet with Chinese authorities to address their concerns, the spokeswoman said.

Authorities will take further steps based on how Google revamps its China site, Xinhua said.

China launched a campaign against online pornography this year that has led to thousands of Web site closures. It has also ordered all PC makers to include Internet filtering software with all new computers sold in the country starting next month.

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Owen Fletcher

IDG News Service
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