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Google ends Internet censorship, dares China to make next move

Google's decision to stop Internet censorship of search results in China puts a global spotlight on China, online free speech activists say.

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A man pulls a bicycle past the Google China headquarters Monday in Beijing, the day the company stopped Internet censorship of search results and redirected traffic to servers located in Hong Kong.

Jason Lee/Reuters

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After two months of negotiations with Chinese officials over the country’s Internet censorship rules, Google pulled the plug on its China-based website Monday and began redirecting traffic to an uncensored site based in Hong Kong.

Google said it would quit adhering to Chinese web filtering policies after discovering it was targeted in a sophisticated cyber attack originating from China and that Gmail accounts belonging to Chinese human rights activists were routinely compromised.

While the Mountain View, Calif., search giant said in a statement that it hopes to keep sales and research and development operations in China, the move to circumvent the censors certainly puts its presence there on rocky footing.

The decision to host its search operation in Hong Kong could be a precursor to a complete departure from China, potentially cutting Google off from the country's 400 million users – the world’s biggest Web audience.

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