In August, we reported that Chinese ISPis and content providers were voluntarily pledging to self-censor their Web content so that it was free from "subversive" material. Earlier this month, Chinese Web surfers found that the popular search engine Google had been blocked by the Chinese government. Last Friday, CNN reported that AltaVista has also been added to the blacklist.
Since Augustis self-regulation pledge, Google had become one of the few search engines that provided Chinese Web surfers with uncensored information in their own language. The actions raise some conjecture about the Chinese governmentis motives, with some analysts suggesting that the move is part of the current administrationis ishaping upi for the upcoming Communist Party congress. Others, however, see it as a little more sinister:
The report [from iofficials in the knowi] also pointed out that blocking search engines based outside China is the only way to deal with companies not beholden to Chinais self-censorship rules.
Internet analysts agree that there is an aspect of commercial retribution to the move.
"The challenge for companies such as Google is that they have no entity in China. Thereis absolutely no leverage that the government has over them except to block them," said Duncan Clark of bda China Limited, an Internet and telecommunications consultancy with offices in Beijing.
While Google and Altavista are blocked, Yahoo! remains accessible. Oddly enough Yahoo!, as well as being a signatory to Augustis self-regulation pledge, uses Google for its searches.
You can read more about the AltaVista blocking story at CNN.com.