Recent cyber attacks threatening user security, corporate data, and critical software source codes, as well as expanding censorship restrictions demanded from the Chinese government, have led Google execs to question whether remaining in China is in the company’s best interest and, furthermore, whether a decision to stay would adhere to the company’s official motto, “Don’t be evil.”
Although blocked in China, here is the link to Google’s official statement issued yesterday for our readers abroad.
Here is also the CNBC interview with David Drummond, chief legal officer at Google, who discusses the Internet giant’s reaction.
Google has disclosed that its computer systems experienced sophisticated cyber attacks last month that it suspects originated in China and that targeted Gmail user accounts of Chinese human rights activists.
Taking into consideration the technology, brains, and power behind the Google machine, as well as the severity of the implications, it is pretty safe to say that this isn’t a baseless claim.
Google’s decision to stand up to the Chinese government has earned them praise around the world from human rights advocates, but has undoubtedly irked the powers that be in the Chinese government and has received mixed reactions within China.
China’s largely government influenced media outlets have been trying to downplay the news online and during television broadcasts.
Xinhua: China seeks clarity on Google’s intentions
China Daily: Google pullout threat ‘a pressure tactic’
Shanghai Daily: Mixed bag of reaction to Google quit threat
Since its entrance into the Chinese market in 2006, Google has come under criticism from human rights activists for agreeing to censor a portion of their search results, resulting in some calling Google.cn the ‘neutered Google’ or ‘communist Google’.
Google, however, has defended its decision to enter the Chinese market with a modified version, claiming that it is still a more open option for Chinese Internet users than domestic search engines like Baidu, which controls approximately 61 percent of the market (to Google’s approx. 31 percent) and maintains a close relationship with the government.
While this is largely true, entering sensitive words like ‘freedom,’ ‘freedom of speech,’ ‘freedom of religion,’ and ‘dalai lama’ into Google search within China will not only lead you to a blocked page, but will shut down the Google search function on your computer for 90 seconds, even today.
Regardless of whether or not Google indeed leaves China, the fallout from this will be very interesting to watch.
Here are some more interesting articles on the subject:
Google Gets on the Right Side of History
Google is not alone in calling China’s bluff
Clash on the Great Firewall
What do Chinese people think about all this? China Geeks has compiled and translated excerpts from all over the web. To find out what Chinese people have to say on the topic, click here!