Google has begun routinely encrypting web searches conducted in China as it rolls out a more robust and secure system for handling search traffic.
The system is being implemented in response to revelations over widespread surveillance being conducted by the US National Security Agency (NSA), GCHQ and other governmental authorities around the world.
The encryption will prevent the authorities in China from detecting searches for politically sensitive subjects, such as Tibet or the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and other countries that censor the internet at a national level will no longer be able to eavesdrop on the searches conducted on such sites, and it will also be harder for them to identify individual users.
However, they may instead resort to blocking them.
It follows a speech by Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt - the company's former CEO - who said that government censorship could be stopped "in a decade" through the more widespread use of encryption.
In the next few months, all searches made over Google on any modern browser will be encrypted, claims the company.
However, in China, Google remains blocked behind the government censorship firewall after it pulled out of the mainland in 2010.