Google has threatened to pull its search engine from the People’s Republic of China, after an attack originating from the country.
David Drummond, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Office at Google announced in a blog post that Google “detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China”.
After some initial investigations Google discovered “evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists”.
“[A]s 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.”
“We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech.”
Google launched google.cn in 2006, despite concern over China’s reputation for curbing freedom of speech, agreeing to censor some search results, at the behest of the government.
“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 recognise that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.”
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