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Google may pull out of China

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Wednesday January 13, 2010 )

This isn’t just a rumor. Google has had enough of the constraints placed upon it by the Chinese government and will cease filtering results, knowing full well this may be the end of Google.cn.

The straw that broke the camel’s back appears to have been an attack on Google’s servers in mid-December originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google.

Google says it has evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. As a result of the investigation, Google says they have also discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties, most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users’ computers.

Google has battened down its security hatches, but says it has taken unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience in part due to the global debate about freedom of speech.

Google.cn was launched in January 2006 to criticism from some corners for Google’s perceived pandering to the Chinese government, but Google says it believed the benefits of its products for people in China outweighed their “discomfort” in agreeing to censor some results.

Google has decided to no longer continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and over the time ahead will be discussing with the Chinese government if it is somehow possible to continue to operate in that fashion. However, the company recognizes that this may well be the death knell for Google.cn.

This is pretty huge – for a company like Google to decide to turn its back on a market that has the highest number of Internet users in the world could be viewed in two ways – total insanity or showing some balls. I choose to think it’s the latter.

I have great respect for the Chinese people and even their government in many ways as they have made much progress in recent years; but when censorship and audits, even for the “good of the people”, escalates into reconnaissance and witch hunts of those who oppose government’s views in a peaceful way; that’s just not on.

I guess Taming The Beast.net will be censored by the Chinese government now. Best wishes to my Chinese readers if you get to read this before they do.

I guess Baidu won’t be to upset about this. Onya Google.

Read Google’s official statement here.



 

 
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