Human rights groups have criticised the owners of the Internet company, Google, for agreeing to Chinese government demands to limit search results.

The leading Internet search company has agreed to censor some of its content in China in order to obtain greater access to one of the world's largest Internet markets.

It is understood people conducting web searches in China will be redirected to the new service which, critics say, could restrict access to thousands of terms and websites.

The development came to light as the company is preparing to introduce a new dedicated web-search service for the Chinese market.

The move has been condemned by free speech campaigners for making it easier for the Chinese authorities to control what is being said or read on the Internet.