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Google encrypts searches in China

Google expands its search encryption

Google has started to encrypt web searches made by users in China.

The move has been made to provide people in the country with the freedom to use the search engine and search for terms without being intercepted or monitored.

It is part of Google’s ongoing plan to globally expand its encrypted search in a bid to prevent the surveillance of online activity by governments and other official bodies across the world.

This focus on search encryption comes as a consequence to Edward Snowdon’s release of National Security Agency documents outlining the NSA’s access to data centres as well as government surveillance of the web. A spokesperson for Google has told The Washington Post: “The revelations of this past summer underscored our need to strengthen our networks. Among the many improvements we’ve made in recent months is to encrypt Google Search by default around the world.”

Chipping away at China’s Great Firewall

The censorship system in China, widely known as its Great Firewall, controls the results for searches deemed to be politically sensitive in a bid to stop citizens gaining or sharing information on certain subjects.

Google has previously pulled out of China in 2010, as the organisation opposed to having its searches censored and search results pre-approved by the government.

However, its development of encrypted search in the country means that government interception will now be more difficult as searches appear in an incomprehensible series of letters and numbers.

Baidu, China’s most used search engine, still does censor its searches, redirecting users to approved government websites for certain queries. While Google currently has 5% of the search engine market share in the country, its encrypted search could lead to more people turning to the search engine in the future.

Natalie Booth, head of search at theEword, has said: “Search encryption gives web users in China the opportunity to search privately and free from surveillance, as official bodies will struggle to pinpoint individual users searching for sensitive topics.”

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