Our favourite Internet search provider of all is now thinking of withdrawing out of China due to highly sophisticated computer attacks targeting their Google mail in mid-December. David Drummond, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer for Google says that someone was attempting to steal intellectual property from Google and other large corporations. It also appeared that the targets of the Gmail attacks were Chinese human rights activists.
As part of ”[Google’s] investigation, [they] 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.”
Bad Bad Chinese computer geniuses!
Drummond continues, ”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.”
Reminds you of Brad Pitt and his being banned from China for playing in Seven Years In Tibet, doesn’t it? We do not think China will look favourably upon free speech and if whoever it is, is targeting human rights activists, the activists could be in more danger than ever.
We hope rather than know that basic freedom speech will be accessed in China someday but we think Google execs are doing a good job at making it clear what they want to enforce.