Google still censoring porn for redirected Chinese users

Users of one version of Google's Hong Kong site cannot change the SafeSearch filter setting

Google is still censoring pornographic search results for users in China, even though they are now being redirected to a Google search engine that does not block sensitive political content.

Google this week started redirecting users who visit its China-based search engine to a version of, the company's Hong Kong site, that uses simplified Chinese script. Google's SafeSearch filter, which blocks content such as porn and profanity, currently cannot be lifted on that version of the Hong Kong site.

That contrasts with the version of the site based on traditional Chinese script, the written version of the language that is used in Hong Kong but not in mainland China. Users of that version can adjust the strength of the SafeSearch filter.

A Google spokeswoman said the company was working on allowing users of the simplified-Chinese version to adjust the filter.

Users of Google's Hong Kong site can easily switch between its two Chinese-language versions. Native Chinese speakers can often read both written versions of the language, so circumventing the checks on pornographic content would be simple for a user who experiments with settings.

But blocking porn by default for redirected users could be meant to soften government anger over Google's switch to Hong Kong. China shut down thousands of Web sites last year in repeated crackdowns on Internet porn. Pornographic search results sparked a row between Google and China last year that ultimately led to and other Google sites being blocked briefly in the country. Google defused the tension by changing the algorithm on its China-based search engine,, to exclude the problematic results.

Google angered Chinese authorities again this week by starting to redirect users of to its Hong Kong site, acting on a pledge made two months ago to stop censoring search results for Chinese users. Sensitive political content blocked in mainland China, such as discussions about Tibetan independence, appears in the unfiltered search results on Google's Hong Kong site. China slammed the move as "totally wrong" and users expressed fear that the Hong Kong site or other Google services could be blocked in retribution.

Google also said on Wednesday that it plans to keep offering censored search services to some of its business partners in China.

"We have over a dozen syndication deals with partners in China," a Google spokeswoman said. "Over time we will not be syndicating censored search to partners in China, but we will of course fulfill our existing contractual obligations."

Google already lost one of its China search partners this week as portal owner Tom Online switched the provider for searches on its site to, Google's top rival in China.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags censorshippornGoogleChina

More about GoogleSurvive

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Owen Fletcher

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place