This morning, Google Inc. announced that it’s 99.9% sure it shut down Google in China. Google Inc. and China have met for the past two months to decide whether Google can release a legal unfiltered search engine in China. The battle between China has put cyber-security against censorship and is raising some serious questions about whether Google’s profit in China is worth sacrificing their values for.
“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,” David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer and senior vice president for corporate development, wrote on the company blog. “We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.”
Read More at Wired.com.
The conflict started in January of 2010, when Google Inc. announced that they were the victims of “highly sophisticated and targeted attack,” along with 20 other companies. The attacks on Google’s intellectual property occurred in mid-December and were to gain access to the email accounts of Chinese Human Rights. The attack also brought to their attention that the accounts of several American, European, and Chinese human rights activists in China were regularly opened by a third-party (Google’s Official Blog). Google Inc. said the attacks were not successful; however they are no longer willing to follow China’s censorship laws and is considering leaving its site and Chinese offices.
Google’s Official Blog post on January 10th, 2010 offers the company’s state on the conflict as well as advice to people on how to prevent further attacks through increasing anti-spyware and anti-trust software. They have also made their report to Congress through the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission public. Google says:
“It has made its security measures available and is handling this conflict in the open because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech. In the last two decades, China’s economic reform programs and its citizens’ entrepreneurial flair have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty. Indeed, this great nation is at the heart of much economic progress and development in the world today.”
Google.cn is used by tens of millions of people each day, and will leave the Chinese people “who will have questions for their government if the company is driven out” (Washington Post). Many Google executives are describing the move as financial, since Google is the only the second largest search engine in China and has dropped from $1 billion in worth to $600 million in 2010. There’s also been a drop in Chinese who are online from 10 million a decade ago to only 340 million. David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer for Google told CNN Tech that,
“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.”
Google Inc. has had private meetings with the Chinese Communist Party to figure out a way, if any, to run an unfiltered search engine in China.
Thus far the Chinese Government has denied any involvement in the cyber attacks, calling them “groundless” and describing “China’s policy on internet safety [as] transparent and consistent” (BBC News). They have also claimed through various state-run newspapers that American companies are attempting to export their political values and reap financial privileges by operating in China. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has asked China to look into Google’s allegations without success. The Chinese Government has now brought the United States into the conflict by accusing the U.S. government of illegally checking a massive amount of American email accounts. Clinton responded to these charges with a speech urging Beijing to conduct investigations and referred to China as “walling themselves off from the progress of the next century” (BBC News).