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Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 09:33 GMT 10:33 UK
AltaVista tries to beat Chinese ban
Chinese users of Yahoo
Yahoo has agreed to voluntary controls
AltaVista has hit back at the Chinese ban on its search engine, promising to find alternative ways to reach China's 46 million surfers.

The US-based site is the second search engine to fall foul of the Chinese Government's strict censorship of the web after Google was banned last week.

The company said it was very concerned to find that AltaVista.com and AltaVista.co.uk were inaccessible in China.

"Free access to information is the cornerstone of our mission," said General Manager of AltaVista International Kevin Eyres.

Limited information

"We have tried to contact the Chinese consulate in the US but have had no response from them so far," he added.


It is difficult for people to tell exactly what is happening

Kevin Eyres, AltaVista
Some of AltaVista's international addresses remain accessible in China and users can use translation tools to read pages in Mandarin Chinese.

An experimental site that AltaVista used to test new technology - raging.com - is also now carrying the main AltaVista page.

China has the second largest web audience behind the US but the government in Beijing is keen to limit the amount of information available to citizens.

As well as controlling the main internet service providers (ISPs) in the country, the government also uses internet filters to block access to sites run by banned groups and some foreign news organisations such as the BBC.

This has been dubbed the Great Red Firewall of China.

Web hijacks

It has been reported that Google's web address has been hijacked by government-approved ISPs. Users are being rerouted to Chinese sites.

Mr Eyres said that AltaVista had had "unconfirmed reports" of the same thing happening to its web addresses.

"It is difficult for people to tell exactly what is happening," he said.

Whatever the situation, AltaVista is keen to find a quick resolution.

"We want to put an end to this cat and mouse game with the sites being blocked. We really want to understand how we can provide an uncompromised product in China," said Mr Eyres.

Some firms including Yahoo have signed up to a pledge, promising to remove any material deemed unsuitable by the government from its site.

See also:

06 Sep 02 | Technology
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03 Sep 02 | Technology
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