Google upsets travel industry, gets Chinese website partially blocked

Google is upsetting more people today, with plans to buy out a travel software company leading to complaints from travel sites, and Google’s search engine being partially blocked in China after it failed to comply with Chinese censorship requirements.

Google is in negotiations with ITA, a software company specialising in travel, to buy it out and incorporate it into Google’s growing empire. ITA’s software is employed by a long list of airlines and travel sites, including Kayak and Orbitz, but not everyone is happy with the idea of a Google takeover.

In fact, there is such opposition to the idea that Kayak tried to beat Google to it by offering to buy ITA. Another travel website, Expedia, was willing to give $200 million (£134 million) to seal the Kayak deal, but Google has a lot of money to throw about and managed to get exclusive talks with the sought after software firm.

The reason so many people are concerned about Google taking over ITA is that the combined dominance of Google in the search market and ITA in the travel software sector will lead to a situation where it has too much leverage over data and prices, making it difficult for companies like Kayak to operate successfully.

A deal has yet to be reached, but if it is we can expect plenty of outcries and legal battles, which is a thing Google is growing more and more accustomed to lately.

Google has also been in hot water with the Chinese government over its decision not to cooperate with Beijing’s censorship requirements of its search engine. It recently changed its redirect service on so that users can select to redirect to the uncensored Hong Kong variant as opposed to automatically redirecting, a policy it has had in place for the last few months.

China was incensed at Google’s unwillingness to censor itself and threatened to revoke its license. Today is the licence renewal date and it seems that China has taken measures against Google by partially blocking its search engine. Google’s mainland China service availability report shows everything working as normal for the last six days, but between 10 and 66 percent of its search engine is blocked today.

It is unclear if China intends this to pressure Google into removing its redirect option entirely or if it  plans to pull the plug on the search engine entirely.