Google Now Encrypting Searches in China


Google's years-long drama with Beijing gets more interesting as the company starts encrypting searches in China. Also: China's central bank prohibits paying for things by scanning bar codes with mobile devices; China embarks on messaging app crackdown; and Apple is deemed the most popular mobile company among those who probably can't afford to buy smartphones.

Google's years-long spat with Beijing just began a new chapter.
The company has begun encrypting searches made by people in China, where Google has long run afoul of regulations designed to keep a tight lid on searches deemed inappropriate.

Google's encryption of searches in China reportedly will prevent the "Great Firewall of China" from detecting when users search for scandalous terms like "Tiananmen Square" or "Dalai Lama." China could just out and block Google altogether, but short of doing that, the country likely will have trouble controlling Google searches as it has in the past.
"It will be a huge headache for Chinese censorship authorities," said Percy Alpha, cofounder of GreatFire.org.

Google couched the move as part of its global expansion of privacy technology designed to prevent surveillance by intelligence agencies, police and hackers.
In that sense, it's not a shot across Beijing's bow. Given the history between Google and China, however, there is indeed an element of theater.

Google moved much of its Chinese operation to Hong Kong in 2010 after getting grief from Beijing about halting its self-censorship in the county.

In 2011, hackers in China are believed to have targeted Gmail users, and in 2012, Chinatemporarily blocked all sorts of Google services.

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