Google Moving China Search Data to U.S.

Google’s director of research Peter Norvig said earlier this week that Google is moving data related to searched conducted on the Chinese version of its Internet search engine to the United States to prevent the Chinese government from accessing the data without Google’s permission. Speaking on a panel at Santa Clara University, Norvig said “We didn’t want to be in the position of having to hand over these kinds of records to the government.”

Google.cn is hosted in China and conforms to Chinese censorship requirements, although it does inform users when search results have been expurgated to confirm with Chinese law. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and other Internet companies operating in China have come under increasing criticism from the industry and U.S. lawmakers for conforming to Chinese law and, thereby, arguably supporting a dictatorial regime.

Google’s search engine retains information about queries entered by search engine users, along with the IP addresses from which the requests were submitted. Google has held off on introducing services like GMail and Blogger in China to avoid having to disclose personal communications or shut down blog sites to conform with Chinese requirements.

Critics have noted that moving the Chinese search data to the United States is no guarantee of safety: Google is currently facing down the U.S. Justice Department which is arguing Google should be forced to turn over search data the DOJ feels is relevant to defending the Child Online Protection Act.