Google attacked and likely to exit China

Here is an excerpt from an entry posted by David Drummond, Google Chief Legal Officer on Google’s official blog (emphasis added),

First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses–including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors–have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities.

Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.

Third, as part of this investigation but independent of the attack on Google, we have 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. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users’ computers.

[…] We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that “we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China.

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. [*****]

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.

An excerpt from WSJ “Google Warns of China Exit” (emphasis added),

For Google to withdraw from China would be an extremely rare repudiation by a Western company of what is almost universally seen in business circles as one of the world’s most important markets. The country has 338 million Internet users as of June, more than any other country. Even the public suggestion that it is considering such a move is likely to infuriate Chinese authorities. Google’s statement could complicate matters for other tech companies sensitive to being seen as [****] accomplices of the Chinese government. [****]

More reports in Wired, CNet, ZDnet.

Congrats to Google for regaining its backbone in China! And I also agree with ZDnet in saying “Bravo! Google takes a stand for human rights in China”.

2 Responses to Google attacked and likely to exit China

  1. hevangel says:

    I really admire the guts of Google standing up against the Chinese government.

  2. kempton says:

    Yes, Google is finally showing some guts and regaining some long lost backbones.

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