Google will stop censorship and might close China operations over cyber attacks

Google discovered hacker attacks on the email accounts of Chinese human rights activists...
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor

Yesterday I wrote that when it comes to China, "Google's backbone is as flexible as that of a Chinese circus contortionist." Because Google is quick to bend over backwards and appease the Chinese authorities over any complaints compared with its dealings with other countries.

But today Google has found its backbone. Today Google said it will stop censoring its search results on its Google.cn site. (Hat tip: Danny Sullivan.)

This change is because of cyber attacks on the gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists and their supporters in several countries. Google security technology managed to rebuff the attacks. Only two accounts were compromised and very little information was exposed.

David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, wrote:

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 Google.cn, 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 Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

Google's compromise of its normally strong position in regard to Internet censorship was a troubling anomaly in China. It appeared that its commercial interests were more important than its stated ideological position.

There was no way that Google could maintain its chummy relationship with the Chinese authorities following this incident, especially since its investigation revealed hacking attempts on other organizations. The test here is if GOOG provides a valuable service, and one that would disadvantage Chinese Internet users if it were gone.

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Please see:

Google Just Says No To China: Ending Censorship, Due To Gmail Attack

RConversation: U.S. and China on Internet freedom vs. security

RConversation: China tightens Internet controls in the name of fighting porn, piracy, and cybercrime

What if Chinese internet users were banned from US access? - SVW

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