Google stops China censorship, may close operations

Google says 'no more' to China's censorship tactics
Google says 'no more' to China's censorship tactics

Google is to review its business in China and may close down operations because of the country's spying tactics.

The news comes after Google found that a number of cyber-attacks on its service in China had revealed numerous surveillance tactics which tried to access details of Gmail users in the country who were advocates of free speech on a routine basis.

The ground-breaking news about the company's decision not to censor any material on its websites was announced on the Google blog, under the title 'A New Approach To China'.

Security breech

"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."

No longer willing

The blog post continues, outlining Google's steps to beat China at its own game, by noting:

"We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, 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."

Chillingly, it concludes: "We recognise that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China."

Google set up shop in China in 2006, with the idea that it could offer up "increased access to information for people in China and a more open internet" while agreeing that it would, despite discomfort, censor some results.

Its .cn web domain currently holds a 17 per cent market share in China.

This is no longer the case and it seems that the Great Firewall of China is even too great for the biggest web-based company on the planet – Google.

It has said that it will work with trying to resolve the issue at hand but considering China's somewhat closed approach to the web, a satisfactory outcome to the events that have taken place seems less and less likely.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.