Search engines sidestep China censors

AltaVista redirects Chinese users to versions of its site that are still accessible, while Google gets a mirror site - literally

AltaVista has hit out against the ban imposed upon its service by the Chinese government.

Since the weekend, Web surfers in China have been unable to access AltaVista. Instead they have been redirected to a variety of domestic search engines which have been approved by the communist government.

Kevin Eyres, general manager, AltaVista International, issued a statement today which said: "Free access to information is the cornerstone of our mission to provide access to information to the global community.

"We were very concerned to learn that AltaVista.com and AltaVista.co.uk were inaccessible in China. We have been working on alternative ways to serve our Chinese users, with additional URLs not in the AltaVista.com domain, including www.raging.com.

"At this point it appears that other AltaVista country sites, such as altavista.ca, altavista.ie, and altavista.de continue to remain accessible in China."

Rival search engine Google has also been affected by the ban but the Chinese government's plans to block access to its search service have come up against fierce opposition from ingenious techies. A number of mirror sites have picked up the Google baton and are endeavouring to work around the 'Great Firewall of China'.

While it may be impossible for the mirror sites to copy the search prowess of Google, many have tried. One site, dubbed elgooG, even mirrors Google in far more literal terms than you might expect.


For everything Internet-related, from the latest legal and policy-related news, to domain name updates, see ZDNet UK's Internet News Section.

Have your say instantly, and see what others have said. Go to the ZDNet news forum.

Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom.