Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Google to stop censorship of Chinese search results, threatens to pull out of country altogether

In a rather stunning reversal of their previous position, Google used its company blog to announce that it would end censoring Chinese search results, while also threatening to pull its operations out of the country following serious cyber attacks on its infrastructure.

Google blog post complains of the cyber attacks it has faced in December.

In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident--albeit a significant one--was something quite different.

The post, written by David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, ends with the news about ending their censorship of search results:
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.
Google's market share of the Chinese market has fallen recently and is now less than 20% versus the dominate player Baidu, which owns almost 70% of the market. This could be a move to go out with guns blazing, as opposed to being forced out. This could also be a move to gain leverage on Chinese authorities.

For now, however, let's give Google credit for doing the right thing, as the company has received much criticism over the company's actions in China since launching operations there in January of 2006.

Update: Any news involving Google is, by definition, big news. So I almost hesitated to write anything since this site's traffic is so small right now, and frankly, what do I have to contribute to the conversation other than a few more words on the Internet?

But there is something that I found interesting in the whole experience: I quoted Google's blog posting, taking a snippet of the post to further the story. Why didn't I just quote the whole thing? Because it wasn't a press release.  In my mind, it was someone else work and I felt I only had the write to include excerpts. Is that right? I don't know.

But it's been interesting to see what others have done. paidContent.org beat me to the story by about an half hour and just included a few quotes as I did. The WSJ, though, posted the whole damn thing. Their post had more information, probably why it was posted later, but also contain a bit too much "attitude" for me.

Talk about a story moving fast: it is now 7:20 PM PT and Google search engine is returning 1036 stories about this event, which originated with a blog post that hit their site at 3:00 PM.