Posted January 13, 2010 4:36 pm by with 6 comments

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Google has long complied with the government-mandated censorship required to operate in China, despite criticism from human rights and freedom of speech advocates. However, Google may be changing their tune, based on a blog post yesterday. Google’s new approach to China is far more open—and at least partially because a Chinese cyber attack compromised some intellectual property of the search giant.

Naturally, Google is frequently the subject of cyber attacks, but this incident became more than just a security concern for Google. In addition to discovering dozens of other victims, Google has also determined the object of the breach—the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Google’s investigation has shown, so far, that the attackers did not compromise the accounts, though they might have been able to access basic information (creation date, subject lines) on two of them. They also found that other third parties (likely phishers and malware on users’ computers) had accessed other activists’ accounts.

But Google’s doing more than advising users to scan their computers and beefing up https access to Gmail (emphasis added):

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China.

Hm . . . I almost wonder if what they found in those activists’ accounts was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Google says that since their first foray into the country four years ago, they’ve believed that making some information available was a worthy objective—but, as they say above, they now believe that they must push for a more open Internet in China.

What do you think? Will Google get to stay in China, or is this the end of

  • The cyber attack was targeted and it’s worrying who/what they were going after. Its proper of Google to reconsider its initial position after this but from what I know of China’s track record, I’d say it’s the end of

    I feel sorry for the poor folks who worked hard to get to where it is today but it’s better to make a dignified exit than to have full of holes.

  • Don’t you think it’s strange that Google’s sudden discovery and rejection of the practices of China comes on the heels of some very bad news regarding its share of the Chinese search market? My take on this matter is at this link:

  • Wow what a battle. The epitome of capitalism against China. I think Google is going to find themselves booted out of China at some point. And while there’s probably a lot of opportunity there for Google, I’m sure there’s a lot of opportunity elsewhere as well.
    .-= Josh Braaten´s last blog ..7 Examples of Good Web Design Page Layout =-.

    • I would love to see the day when the entire world is united against China to give them lots of lessons in professional ethics before anything else, then in the way they treat their work force and in trade. If they pay what their people deserve, their prices cannot be so ridiculously low.

      If they are afraid of the free flow of information, I’ve got bad news for them. The problem isn’t Google. The technology will bring such system to their knees.

      Good for Google! I appreciate how it’s standing against them. Let’s not call it capitalism against China. People in China should be free to choose between Google and anything else the grandpas offer them in their country.
      .-= Website Promotion Blog´s last blog ..Using Twitter Search Functions =-.

  • I also feel sorry for the people if China , However they deserve to be cut off, But what’s that gonna mean for Google?