China has long been known to deploy what is said to be the single most elaborate and far-reaching internet censorship system in the world, unofficially referred to as the Great Firewall in an obvious reference to the country’s most well-known architectural marvel – the Great Wall. Those who get to decide which websites will be allowed and which ones will get the chop, have now decided that the internet users in the country will be barred from gaining access to the website of Google’s new parent company, Alphabet Inc. While the censorship was swift and came within the first few hours of the site going live, the authorities in China have yet to provide a reason for the blockade.
In an unexpected move on Tuesday, a Google filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission revealed that the company was creating a new holding company for itself and its increasingly diversified business interests. Google itself will henceforth be one of the entities under the parent company. As for the new Alphabet website, the abc.xyz domain still seems to be a work in progress and seemingly still only has a single page for now. The page displays a message from co-founder and CEO Mr. Larry Page, and also includes a link to an existing investor relations page on the longstanding Google domain. According to reports however, the unceremonious blocking of the website has not really stopped the country’s media from reporting on the restructuring of Google. Even the country’s Communist Party mouthpiece, the government-run “People’s Daily”, carried at least one article about the creation of Alphabet. The censored domain name was even mentioned by the newspaper as part of its coverage, if reports are to be believed.
High levels of Internet Censorship in China has been a thorny issue for Google in the past as well. So much so, the company ended up shuttering down its business in China in 2010, amidst ongoing battles. Not that the pulling-out had any effect on the country’s government though. Last year, Google’s free webmail service, Gmail, was blocked by authorities in the country, leading to a firestorm of criticism and an outpouring of anger expressed on social media by the country’s netizens.