Google appears to have quietly stopped filtering from its Chinese search engine, a staggering defiance of the powers that be in Beijing. Though the search giant denies changing its policy, NBC reporters in China have been able to access previously verboten sites relating to Tibet, the Xinjiang independence movement, and the Tiananmen Square massacre—including the infamous “tank man” image—on public terminals.
The searches were erratic, however; at other times the sites were blocked. “It does seem that the filters are not fully working,” said the founder of a Beijing-based web tracking service. “But no one knows exactly what’s going (on).” A Google spokesman speculated that the Chinese government may have caused the glitch. But the incident comes backdropped by the public battle between Google and the censors, with Google reportedly considering leaving China.