Today Google published a blog post about a cyber attack. Attacks like this aren’t new, but Google took the interesting step of sharing the fact that 20 other major companies were also targeted, with evidence that the attackers were targeting Chinese human rights activists.
From Google’s post on the subject.
We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that “we 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.”
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. 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.
Reading behind the lines, the Chinese goverment is hunting human rights activists and Google’s not going to sit quietly by. Giving up the largest market in the world is a big step to take, although Google is a distant second to the search engine Baidu.
This is going to be interesting.