Google announces they will no longer censor results in China

January 13th, 2010 - 6:57 am ICT by BNO News  

MOUTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA (BNO NEWS) – Google Inc. outlines a new approach to deal with the regular cyber-attacks originating from China, the approach includes no longer censoring the results on Google.cn.

Google’s David Drummond, Senior Vice President, says that they have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide array of businesses—including the internet, finance, technology, media, and chemical sectors—have been similarly targeted. They said they are working with relevant U.S. authorities with regards to dealing with the issue.

Drummond states that in addition to the attacks themselves, they have evidence as to the motive and goal of the attackers: accessing Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on their investigations, they believe that their attacks did not successfully achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.

Alluding to a larger purpose behind the Chinese attacks, they state that as a result of the investigation, they have found that dozens of U.S.-, China-, and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been regularly accessed by third parties. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely through phishing scams or malware placed users’ computers.

Using the information gained from the most recent attack, Google has already made improvements to infrastructure and architectural systems to enhance security for Google’s users.

Drummond says that they took the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not only because of the security and human rights concerns, but because this information goes to the heart of a larger global debate about freedom of speech.

Google.cn, which was launched in January 2006, was launched by Google with the purpose and intent of increased access to information for the people in China. Drummond states that the discomfort in agreeing to censor some results was outweighed by the prospect of a larger freedom of information and more open internet. At the time, Google made clear that they 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.”

The attacks and surveillance that have been uncovered by Google as well as the attempts over the past year to continue to limit free speech on the web have led them to conclude that a review of the feasibility of our business operations in China is appropriate. Google has made the step in deciding that they will no longer censor results on Google.cn and they will discuss with the Chinese government the basis on how they can operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.

While recognizing that they may have to shut down Google.cn as well as offices in China, they continue to review and move forward with the decision to provide China with an unfiltered search engine. Drummond states that they understand the potential far-reaching consequences of their decisions and clarifies that this move was driven by the executives in the United States, and it was done so without the knowledge or involvement of their employees in China.

The human rights in the People’s Republic of China have been a topic of debate and conversation by most Western countries and human rights organizations. Multiple sources, including the U.S. State Department’s annual PRC’s human rights reports, as well as other studies from groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have documented PRC’s abuses of human rights in violation with internationally recognized norms. The violations and controversies include freedom of speech, freedom of movement, religious freedm, and state-sponsored discrimination against Tibetans.

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