Google announces end of censorship in China

Google has today revealed that in mid-December, they, along with a number of other large companies in the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors, were targeted in a sophisticated cyber-attack. This attack on their infrastructure originated in China, and resulted in the theft of intellectual property.

Google's analysis of this attack suggests that the aim was to access Gmail accounts of a number of Chinese human rights activists, but they believe the attempt failed. Only two accounts were successfully accessed, and the only information viewed included the creation date of the accounts, and subject lines, not the contents, of messages.

As part of the investigation, Google has uncovered that dozens of US, European and Chinese human rights advocates have also had their accounts accessed routinely by third parties. These accounts appear to have been accessed through phishing scams, rather than a security breach at Google themselves. As always, up to date anti-virus and anti-malware software is the best solution to protect against this.

Google has already used information from this attack to make security enhancements to their infrastructure to better protect users in the future, and have taken the unusual step of sharing this information both due to the security and human rights aspects, but also as part of a wider debate on China and free speech.

Due to this attack, and the background behind it, Google is now taking a second look at their operations in China, particularly Google.cn, where they currently offer censored search results as part of an agreement with China's government. Google is now taking a big step by informing the government of China that it is no longer willing to provide censored results, and will be entering into discussions regarding how it can do this without breaking Chinese law. Should Google find themselves unable to reach an agreement, they may shut down Google.cn, and close their offices in China.

This move has been driven by key executives at Google in the United States, who have been monitoring the human rights and freedom of speech situation in China carefully since they launched Google.cn in 2006.

At the time of writing Google shares are down 1.9 percent at $579 while Chinese rival Baidu rose 6.8 percent to $413 on the news.

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We agree that anti-virus and anti-malware software is the best solution to protect against security breaches and phishing scams. Bill Mullins recently reported that there were 25 million new malware strains in 2009 (http://bit.ly/4TKZa4). Yikes! But this is certainly a big step for Google in terms of human rights and censorship in China. It will be interesting to see how this pans out. If they shut down their operations in China, how significantly do you think their revenue will be affected?

TuneUp Utilities said,
We agree that anti-virus and anti-malware software is the best solution to protect against security breaches and phishing scams. Bill Mullins recently reported that there were 25 million new malware strains in 2009 (http://bit.ly/4TKZa4). Yikes! But this is certainly a big step for Google in terms of human rights and censorship in China. It will be interesting to see how this pans out. If they shut down their operations in China, how significantly do you think their revenue will be affected?


Not as much as you might think.

Less than five percent of Google's revenue *today* is from the PAC (People's Autocracy of China) per Google's last anual report (I'm a Google stockholder, so I see those documents). Where the inflated revenue estimates come in is that there are more Chinese with Internet access overall than some Western democracies; the flip-side of that is that generally, netizens in autocracies have MUCH less income available to spend, online or anywhere else. (More heads, but much less PER head.) Throw in that the operations themselves are losing money (any time you spend more on security than you are taking in in terms of revenue, you have a money pit) and they may have simply been looking for an excuse to bail.

Finally, speaking of BAIDU (the PAC's leading search engine company), what do we know about their operations, board members, presence of any non-Chinese board members, etc.? Despite their ADRs being traded on NASDAQ, is BAIDU a real company, or is it some sort of governmental-owned shell-company? (Remember the recent investigations into software piracy in the PAC? Especially where it turned out that most of the media came from three companies where the majority owner was...the People's Liberation Army? And I'm talking about pressed, not blank media.) Regardless of what Google does, BAIDU is not passing the smell test.

I'm guessing this has more to do with commercial interests than anything to do with morality. If Google just put up with being hacked, then who's to say some of their own people wouldn't (or haven't already) have been be next? It's setting a precedent which it seems Google isn't prepared to follow. Google happily 'did evil' for a long time in China, but I think when it comes to putting their commercial interests and trade secrets at risk, this is probably where they'll draw the line.

Chinese government murdering activists does nothing for them. But break into their gMail accounts...well, that's the last straw! /sarc

Google = Evil

Are you suggesting that Google should have tried to overthrow the Chinese government? I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have worked. Uncensoring web searches will do some damage to their 'spin control.'

GreyWolfSC said,
Are you suggesting that Google should have tried to overthrow the Chinese government? I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have worked. Uncensoring web searches will do some damage to their 'spin control.'

Oh my. What a large Straw Man you constructed there.

How about refusing to censor them in the first place? Think Google could have managed that?

It is ultra mega BS.

If the chinese goverment want to access to a account then, they can ask nicely to Google to open the account or face ban. Yahoo did it and you can bet that Google has did it.

According Google:
Last year, Google's senior policy counsel, Andrew McLaughlin, defended the censorship saying the company sought to balance commitments ''to satisfy the interests of users, expand access to information, and respond to local conditions."

Finally someone is taking action. I am currently living in China, and the moment that I got my hands on the so-called "Internet" in China, it is terrible. Considering that Youtube, Blip.tv, Bit.ly, Google Apps/Docs/Picasa, and even the images in Wikipedia are blocked, this is not something I can live with (Tor! :D)

Most of the non-Chinese people in China use Google, and if China decides to censor the entire google, then there are going to be angry people. Beijing 2008's attempt to make a "Open China" failed, but there's Expo 2010 in Shanghai this year, and if Google pulls out / gets censored, this is going to be big.

My guess: Either at the end of this year China becomes Open, or we will learn to live without Google over here.

@1.3, 1.4 - You may be unfamiliar with Chinese Internet, so here's a quick breakdown for you. China has a government run firewall called the Golden Shield where 30,000 sit there and filter internet sites (at least estimate). Just off the top of my head, Youtube, Blogspot, Facebook, Twitter, Imageshack all cannot be accessed. Then take Wikipedia for example, I can see all of the stuff that is not sensitive, but if I try to read up on say Tiananmen Square protest, then Wikipedia will suddenly be inaccessible for a few minutes. The same thing applies for ALL websites that may contain sensitive material, once the system sense that something is sensitive, the connection to that webhost is terminated, and you can't access it for a while.

@ those saying Bing should follow, they won't. Microsoft has too much to lose if they leave China, and you can bet that if Bing pulls the same act, The Chinese government will not hesitate to own them through different channels.

@19, believe me, the Chinese government does care, why do you think they spent over 1 billion USD on this firewall? Pretty sure the 30,000 watching our every move on the internet shows they care.

Now in general, Google has a 29% market share in China, not a terribly big amount. Personally I browse the web using a secure connection to the states (like hell I'm going to browse the net without youtube) and always use Google, but I'm part of a small population that does this because a decent connection like this costs a fair bit in comparison with average salary.

Stormeh said,
@19, believe me, the Chinese government does care, why do you think they spent over 1 billion USD on this firewall? Pretty sure the 30,000 watching our every move on the internet shows they care.


I mean care about Google leaving.

encyclopediadramatica .com/DO_IT
I'm not on google on this one, not that i like google.

I see this as a mad man saying "If i can't have it no one will" and this person being the entity called "Google". Yahoo and Bing/Live/MSN has been in china for so much longer than google yet you dont hear them saying as such, at least not as vocaly as google has. From what i see google has the least to loose from this. Yahoo is favored more than google is in china, and they are already partnering up with baidu in china. Microsoft and Yahoo already have a deal in place for search/ad revenue and Microsoft has other Products to sell to china. If you think that everyone will follow in Saint Googles footsteps, your mistaken.

Call it biased hate or my judgement being clouded, cause most likely some one out there can diagnose it as such, but i think googleis being a whiny bitch taking its ball home whileeveryone else has thier own.

Do you know the difference between human and animal? Human has a soul and a brain to think, they should not be treated like animal keeping in a cage. Ask yourself, do you want someone to tell you to shut your mouth, and do what they ask you to do. If you don't like it then why do you want it to fall on other. If you don't believe me, go back to China, go to the market where there is a lot of people and say: "I think the people need more freedom, or I don't like the way this guy do this and that." If they don't arrest you, then what Google did were stupid.

dgman said,
Do you know the difference between human and animal? Human has a soul and a brain to think, they should not be treated like animal keeping in a cage.

Soul doesn't exist and animals have brains to think too (animals and humans are different only in form and complexity). Anyone who can think and feel pain (humans, dogs, apes, dolphins, rats etc.) should be allowed to enjoy all freedoms possible. Action should not be restricted by anybody if it doesn't restrict freedoms of third parties and all participants were involved by their own choice (like some user does search on Google's website).

I get the feeling the Chinese government wouldn't really care either way. Google plays a distant second fiddle to Baidu there anyway.

Wow!! A Great move!! Finally there is a big guy stands up for its core values and foundation. Go Googgle!!!
We are hoping Microsoft and Yahoo will follow up - do the right thing!!
As long as majority of people and companies standup, then the days of dictatorships in the world will be numbered.

The world relies on China...not the other way round buddy...

If all the major western search engines pull out what remains? Oh I know...the local search engine baidu which is for more widely used than google in china. They get even more market share and more revenue.

It's not as simple as "lets pull out of China, they will change"

PCBEEF said,
The world relies on China...not the other way round buddy...

If all the major western search engines pull out what remains? Oh I know...the local search engine baidu which is for more widely used than google in china. They get even more market share and more revenue.

It's not as simple as "lets pull out of China, they will change"

O please, China is not as powerful as people make them out to be. They are certainly a big player, but they cannot project any real power.

Baidu does not follow the standard laws. It allows the indexing and downloading of copyrighted content, knowingly. There is no DMCA takedown like google has. Baidu wins because they are not following the rules.

Intelman said,
O please, China is not as powerful as people make them out to be. They are certainly a big player, but they cannot project any real power.

Power in what sense? Military? Economical? Political?

Military: 60th anniversary of commy party demonstrates their "might", just because they don't project it by wasting BILLIONS by going to war doesn't meant they don't have any power

Economical: 2nd largest economy in the world and holds most of the world's rare earth metals

Political: Copenhagen is a recent example.

Intelman said,
O please, China is not as powerful as people make them out to be. They are certainly a big player, but they cannot project any real power.

China can project its power if it wants to but only on a good way.

Take a good look at Africa. Their economy is growing and not more famine.

Any where US project its power people die.

Intelman said,
O please, China is not as powerful as people make them out to be. They are certainly a big player, but they cannot project any real power.

Buddy, are you for real? China are currently bankrolling the USA to the tune of $1 trillion. America STILL imports mountains of consumer goods, on borrowed Chinese money. China technically own America, though America could default on their debt! WWIII

PCBEEF said,
The world relies on China...not the other way round buddy...

If all the major western search engines pull out what remains? Oh I know...the local search engine baidu which is for more widely used than google in china. They get even more market share and more revenue.

It's not as simple as "lets pull out of China, they will change"

No; it's not that simple.

However, remaining in ANY country that pulls that sort of crap is the worst sort of public-relations, and the Court of Public Opinion is MUCH harsher than the legal system (the trials are far longer, there is no appeal from its rulings, and the sentence can be LONGER than merely LWOP). Consider the opinions concerning the United States in Central *and* South America - despite the US being a minority-player in most of the drama in both regions (Europe, primarily France and Spain, was much larger) among the elites, it is the US that gets the bad press (not because of what the government, or even countries based in the US, have done, but because the United States dares to actually be rich; basically, it's sour grapes extended to public opinion); the US actually has a more favorable opinion among the average citizen than among the elites.

Google is simply realizing how badly the deck is stacked against it (or any other non-Chinese business); there is only so much that being the planet's largest national economy will let you get away with (as far as doing business with foreign businesses goes).

Man this much be such a relief to the dozens of human rights activists rotting away in chinese prisons because google turned over their email accounts with the slightest government nod in the months leading up to google being allowed to open up offices in China...

Bout time, pity blood's already soaking your and virtually every major corporation's hands.

This isn't a "go google" moment, It's more of an "about time" moment. It's sad that any search engine or company would operate in china.

Making money by entering another market is considered sad? It's not a moral issue, it's a political issue. Obey the laws or get out. I think the original blog outlined that fairly clearly but everybody is acting as if google is a hero...google is stepping down...nothing heroic about it.

PCBEEF said,
Making money by entering another market is considered sad? It's not a moral issue, it's a political issue. Obey the laws or get out. I think the original blog outlined that fairly clearly but everybody is acting as if google is a hero...google is stepping down...nothing heroic about it.

Baidu does not follow the law. They suffer copyright infringement issues.

http://www.bing.com/reference/semhtml/Musi...public_of_China

There was a pretty good PBS special on this.

China's own companies do not follow the laws. If the Pirate Bay were homebrew chinese, it would survive in China well.

Every house has it own rule. If a Chinese company operate in US they too have to follow US law. You are operating in China not US.

PCBEEF said,
Making money by entering another market is considered sad? It's not a moral issue, it's a political issue. Obey the laws or get out. I think the original blog outlined that fairly clearly but everybody is acting as if google is a hero...google is stepping down...nothing heroic about it.

Exactly. I don't think google, or any US company, should be over there to begin with. I'm not saying making money is sad, I'm saying dealing with china is sad.

We place an embargo on cuba, invade iraq, act similarly with many other countries all in the name of human rights violations yet we setup trade agreements with china.

stokhli said,
We place an embargo on cuba, invade iraq, act similarly with many other countries all in the name of human rights violations yet we setup trade agreements with china.

Have you considered the possibility that this might be a more effective method to get China to change their ways?

duneworld said,
Have you considered the possibility that this might be a more effective method to get China to change their ways?

If we were dealing with a country that pays ANY attention to what their people actually think, that theory might have weight.

However, history (recent history) has shown that autocracies do not govern by any sense of logic. They act in what they perceive as THEIR (the folks in power) best interests, which are not only NOT parallel to the interests of the governed, but usually polarity-opposed to the interests of the governed. Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gets this (she is looking to target further sanctions against Iran at the leadership, not the ordinary folks that are getting whacked right now, while the leadership keeps moseying right along without a care); an approach we haven't seen out of Foggy Bottom since Dulles (yes, the same Dulles the airport was named after).

Which makes this even more awesome by Google. That they'd consider doing this despite losing market share.

Would be so funny if they did... Haha, that or if they'd f-k their government over with uncensored searches, so it's up to them to decide what to do.

Google aren't averse to censoring the western world search engine, as anyone who followed "Climategate" will attest. We are seeing the beginnings of protectionism, not good for those NWO guys. The parallels with the lead up to WWII are frightening.

I'm not sure that this will be as bad for them financially as people think. It'll get them a LOT of coverage in the press if they do go ahead with it. And with the Nexus One coming out it's a good time!

Tom W said,
Excellent move. Bing and Yahoo need to follow suit too.

I agree. I'm sure that China couldn't have only targeted gmail, they would have gone after hotmail and yahoo e-mails too.

Tom W said,
Excellent move. Bing and Yahoo need to follow suit too.

If Google suceeds with this they might, but until China makes major changes to it's laws it most likely won't catch on.

I strongly agree, but I don't see this happening. If Google goes through with their threats and discontinues providing censored results, then they may no longer be accessible within China.

If Yahoo and Bing follow suit, they also may no longer be accessible within China. However, if Yahoo and Bing keep doing what they're doing, then they still operate in China, with a huge competitor gone.

If you think about it from a business/economics perspective, Yahoo and Bing likely will continue to provide censored search results, and as a result, their market stake in China will increase drastically.

Joey H said,
I strongly agree, but I don't see this happening. If Google goes through with their threats and discontinues providing censored results, then they may no longer be accessible within China.

If Yahoo and Bing follow suit, they also may no longer be accessible within China. However, if Yahoo and Bing keep doing what they're doing, then they still operate in China, with a huge competitor gone.

If you think about it from a business/economics perspective, Yahoo and Bing likely will continue to provide censored search results, and as a result, their market stake in China will increase drastically.

And? Business has always been dirty. IBM made punch cards for the nazis' to use in their camps, and Fanta was a direct result of the inability to distribute Coke in Germany etc etc. I'm not shocked if Google is the only one to shut down their operations in China, but hopefully Bing and Yahoo can't take the bad PR on top of their already low shares of the search market. Knowing that Google is a better choice "ethically" will hopefully also have an impact on Bing and Yahoo's share of the search market in the rest of the world.

Joey H said,
I strongly agree, but I don't see this happening. If Google goes through with their threats and discontinues providing censored results, then they may no longer be accessible within China.

If Yahoo and Bing follow suit, they also may no longer be accessible within China. However, if Yahoo and Bing keep doing what they're doing, then they still operate in China, with a huge competitor gone.

If you think about it from a business/economics perspective, Yahoo and Bing likely will continue to provide censored search results, and as a result, their market stake in China will increase drastically.

Google is small fry in China, the market leader is Baidu (which is a home grown Chinese search engine) so Google leaving wouldn't help Yahoo or Bing much at all. Honestly, they have little to bargain with and I expect the Chinese gov to tell them to either continue to censor their results or get out. That is my 2 cents, take with a grain of salt.

_peder_ said,
And? Business has always been dirty. IBM made punch cards for the nazis' to use in their camps, and Fanta was a direct result of the inability to distribute Coke in Germany etc etc. I'm not shocked if Google is the only one to shut down their operations in China, but hopefully Bing and Yahoo can't take the bad PR on top of their already low shares of the search market. Knowing that Google is a better choice "ethically" will hopefully also have an impact on Bing and Yahoo's share of the search market in the rest of the world.

Bli'me, a person who has read real history, may I add Prescott Bush to the list, how his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act. There is far more to this Google story. Interesting times!

Joey H said,
I strongly agree, but I don't see this happening. If Google goes through with their threats and discontinues providing censored results, then they may no longer be accessible within China.

If Yahoo and Bing follow suit, they also may no longer be accessible within China. However, if Yahoo and Bing keep doing what they're doing, then they still operate in China, with a huge competitor gone.

If you think about it from a business/economics perspective, Yahoo and Bing likely will continue to provide censored search results, and as a result, their market stake in China will increase drastically.


That may be good (for Yahoo and/or Microsoft, who owns Bing) from a business POV, but it's bad (in fact, awful) from a public-relations POV. (Have we forgotten *already* about the issue of NIKE and sweatshop labor, or Wal-Mart and the same subject? What's good for business is not always good for business public relations, as the Court of Public Opinion is MUCH harsher than civil court; just ask Tiger Woods.) My opinion of the People's Autocracy of China (it is not a republic, even in the loosest sense of the word, as there is only one legitimate political party) is already so low you'd need the Trieste to get to it, so I'd be quite hapy to see *every* American business with operations there bail.

only in this case, the resistance is already a massive totalitarian state that regularly violates your privacy as well, only for PROFIT, not to crush your freedom of speech. much better.


not sarcastic... it's much better... if still evil.

"Google is now taking a big step by informing the government of China that it is no longer willing to provide censored results, and will be entering into discussions regarding how it can do this without breaking Chinese law. Should Google find themselves unable to reach an agreement, they may shut down Google.cn, and close their offices in China."

Wow, if this is true: Go Google

Google has probably had it's code stolen, and they are smarting!

It has be said that the Chinese have hoovered the military computers dry of secrets. If a kid in Wales could do it from his bedroom 15 years ago using a modem, then I think it is possibly true.

The truth is Google are being burned by the Chinese.