Google Encrypted Search Hits China

google-year-of-the-dragon-2012While Google users in the U.S. and many other countries have been getting encrypted searches by default, Google has now expanded and begun encrypting web searches conducted by users in China, the Washington Post reported.

The change comes about as part of Google’s plan for global expansion of their encrypted search, in part to combat surveillance of online activity by governments, police, hackers, and others.

It also has wider spread implications. The Chinese government has a long history of blocking searches they decide are politically sensitive the topics, such as Tiananmen Square.

But the move to encrypted search means nations that intercept user searches will find it much more difficult, if not impossible, to be able to block those sensitive searches. And if they are able to, they will have difficulty connecting searches to specific users.

“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,” a Google spokesperson told the Post. “This builds on our work over the past few years to increase the number of our services that are encrypted by default and encourage the industry to adopt stronger security standards. ”

Google pulled back most of their operations out of mainland China back in 2010, in part because they didn't want to either censor user searches, or present them with alternative search results that were government approved. China's biggest search engine, Baidu, on the other hand, censors searches and participates in the redirecting to sites the government deemed to be preferred.

Google’s search share in China is very small, sitting at only 5 percent in a market that is largely dominated by Baidu. Whether this change to encrypted search will make users more likely to use Google, time will soon tell. However many web users in China already utilize methods to bypass China’s so-called Great Firewall.

About the author

Jennifer Slegg began as a freelance writer, and turned to search engine optimization and writing content for the web in 1998. She has created numerous content-rich sites in niche markets and works with many clients on content creation, strategy, and monetization. She writes about many search industry and social media topics on her blog, and is a frequent speaker at search industry conferences on SEO, content marketing and content monetization. Acknowledged as the leading expert on the Google AdSense contextual advertising program, she runs JenSense, a blog dealing exclusively with contextual advertising. She is also the founder and editor of The SEM Post. She is known by many as her handle Jenstar on various webmaster forums.