Google Ending China Censorship

The world’s biggest search engine is threatening to abandon the world’s largest country.

Google Inc. will stop censoring its search results in China and may pull out of the country completely after discovering that computer hackers had tricked human-rights activists into exposing their e-mail accounts to outsiders.

The change of heart announced Tuesday heralds a major shift for the Internet’s search leader, which has repeatedly said it will obey Chinese laws requiring some politically and socially sensitive issues to be blocked from search results available in other countries. The acquiescence had outraged free-speech advocates and even some shareholders, who argued Google’s cooperation with China violated the company’s “don’t be evil” motto.

The criticism had started to sway Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who openly expressed his misgivings about the company’s presence in China.

But the tipping point didn’t come until Google recently uncovered hacking attacks launched from within China. The apparent goal: gathering information about dozens of human rights activists trying to shine a light on the country’s censorship and other secretive policies.

I suppose one has to draw the line somewhere.  While Google is an easy target for knuckling under to China’s authoritarian government, its choices were between bad options.  And giving the Chinese people access to a large portion of the Internet makes them more free than there were before, by orders of magnitude.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Franklin says:

    Good for them, and I don’t give a rat’s ass if my Google stock drops because of it.

    Unfortunately, it will have little effect if they are kicked out of the country as expected. Baidu does some 60-70% of the searching, with Google only accounting for around 20%, IIRC.