Censorship in China may force Google.cn to close

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google.pngA post on the Google blog titled “A New Approach to China” has revealed Google’s plans to stop censoring search results gathered at their .cn domain.

The decision follows a number of attacks on the Gmail accounts of Google users who openly advocate free speech in China. The communist Chinese government is notoriously wary of the internet, and rigorously polices what its citizens may access.

“We have discovered that the accounts of dozens of US-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties,” says the blog.

“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…

“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.”

Google begrudgingly agreed to censor some search results when it opened Chinese offices in 2006. However, this decision not to censor any search results, whatever the cost, is a bold move that could force Google to leave the communist state.

“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,” the blog concludes.

Google.cn currently holds 17 % of Chinese search-engine traffic.

Gerald Lynch