Google is headed for a showdown with Beijing after the search giant said it was no longer prepared to censor search results on the Chinese version of its search engine.
In a blog post on Tuesday, David Drummond, Google’s senior vice-president for corporate development and chief legal officer, said the decision followed a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack” on its systems. The attackers, for the most part, were trying to access the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, the company said.
“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,” Drummond said in his blog post. “We recognise that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.”
Drummond said that when Google opened an office in China four years ago, it made it clear to the Chinese authorities that it would “carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services”.
He said the attacks on its systems, combined with attempts in the past year to further limit free speech on the Web, had led Google to conclude that it should review the feasibility of its doing business in China.
“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,” Drummond says. — Staff reporter, TechCentral
- Picture credit: M Weitzel