Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A new approach to China: an update

(cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

On January 12, we announced on this blog that Google and more than twenty other U.S. companies had been the victims of a sophisticated cyber attack originating from China, and that during our investigation into these attacks we had uncovered evidence to suggest that the Gmail accounts of dozens of human rights activists connected with China were being routinely accessed by third parties, most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on their computers. We also made clear that these attacks and the surveillance they uncovered—combined with attempts over the last year to further limit free speech on the web in China including the persistent blocking of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Docs and Blogger—had led us to conclude that we could no longer continue censoring our results on Google.cn.

So earlier today we stopped censoring our search services—Google Search, Google News, and Google Images—on Google.cn. Users visiting Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk, where we are offering uncensored search in simplified Chinese, specifically designed for users in mainland China and delivered via our servers in Hong Kong. Users in Hong Kong will continue to receive their existing uncensored, traditional Chinese service, also from Google.com.hk. Due to the increased load on our Hong Kong servers and the complicated nature of these changes, users may see some slowdown in service or find some products temporarily inaccessible as we switch everything over.

Figuring out how to make good on our promise to stop censoring search on Google.cn has been hard. We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement. We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from Google.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we've faced—it's entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China. We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services. We will therefore be carefully monitoring access issues, and have created this new web page, which we will update regularly each day, so that everyone can see which Google services are available in China.

In terms of Google's wider business operations, we intend to continue R&D work in China and also to maintain a sales presence there, though the size of the sales team will obviously be partially dependent on the ability of mainland Chinese users to access Google.com.hk. Finally, we would like to make clear that all these decisions have been driven and implemented by our executives in the United States, and that none of our employees in China can, or should, be held responsible for them. Despite all the uncertainty and difficulties they have faced since we made our announcement in January, they have continued to focus on serving our Chinese users and customers. We are immensely proud of them.


SRX said...

Drummond, Brin...I am a Chinese fan of your browser, phone, map and search engine based in Hong Kong. However, I am surprised and insulted that you would use my country as a cheap PR stunt. You made the right decision when you decided to offer the services (even though it was filtered) in China. For whatever reason (and no one believes the "being hacked" excuse) you decided to leave but I want to tell you that you have done no benefit to the people of China. You're just one more example of Westerners using China as the bad guy when expedient.

Callum said...

"and no one believes the "being hacked" excuse)"

Unfortunately SRX, everyone does believe that these attacks occured because they did. The evidence is freely available, perhaps just not to you. In a country where news reporting and internet results are heavily censored (the issue at the centre of this whole conflict), don't you think it's possible that reporting in China on this issue has been askewed?

The issue has got nothing to do with demonising China or making it 'the bad guy', rather just a fundemental principle and right that should be extend to all, freedom of expression. The freedom to protest without fear of attack and persecution and the freedom to view information without interferance from the state under the poorly disguised notion of 'having the people's best interests at heart.'

Google were pushed and tested by the Chiese government until breaking point and it is clear they did not take this decision lightly. This decision will force many businesses around the world to assess exactly how much they will compromise in order to appease to the demands of a paranoid government.

SRX said...

everyone is a big claim (perhaps as big as my no-one claim one may say). Callum, have you seen "the proof"? All I can do is follow the newspapers - on day one it was "Chinese government hackers", a week later it was "patriotic Chinese hackers", a week later it was "asian hackers"...sounds dodgy to me.

We don't dispute the desire for a free internet in China but China and many Chinese are very sensitive to Western hypocrisy and this is the crux of Chinese suspicion against the West. I can tell you that Chinese may not like their government but this does not mean we like Western "freedom fighters" either. We will handle our own Government in our own time.

SRX said...

Callum, also I follow the news on Hong Kong and Western newspapers, not state run rubbish.

Callum said...

That was definately a massive generalisation from me im afraid SRX so many apologies for that. I have no way of knowing what media you have access to and also, vcannot assert with any veracity that the medi ai have access to is any more reliable.

In the Uk at least, the attacks have only ever been refered to as " a sophisticated and targeted cyber attack originating from China" that is it, no other formats.What we have as our 'proof' is the legislation which requires google, and any email provider to inform its customers when such violations occur and the numerous verifications of this information from the gmail account holders in question. Since this is an automated system and emails to these users were generated automatically, the only other explination would be if google had staged the entire thing. Which if true, could only infer political influence from the US, Europe or both.

this is extremely unlikely, to me anyway, considering the amount of google shares owned by congressmen and statesment in America and the projected $2.4 billion impact this withdrawl will have on google's finances.

In shareholder terms, this move is like cutting your nose off to spite your face and the outcry against googles withdrawl from shareholders unfortunately exposes the money centric nature of our society. A most unadmirable quality.

I guess my point of contention, poorly explained in my first post was that i don't see how google can be blamed for reacting like this after being backed into a corner. This statement released today by Minister of Industry and Information Technology Li Yizhong, speaking at China's annual legislation session, sums things up:

"We need to preserve our nation's interest, our people's interest, we cannot be relaxed with any information that will cause harm to the stability of our society, to our system, and to the health of our under-age young people,"

it is awful when a government supresses free speech under the pathetic disguise of ' looking out for our people's best interests' when it clearly has only its own interests at heart. For me, this the viewpoint where all the blame lies and is pretty much indefensible.

Not one to favour global or governmental conspiricies as i have never seen compelling evidence that people are that organised as a species, i guess i may have taken google, and the supposed victim's word at face value which formed the basis of my point. As you rightly indicate. I probably cannot be certain of this and therfore shouldn't make this assertion.

Ryan said...

"China Internet becomes the wrold biggest Intranet" - I just saw a video clip 1 hour ago, commented by Hanhan, a young but popular Chinese writer in China. It's true, but we have to face many truths and make choices many times in our lives.

As a native Chinese and a Google fan, today is historic. I don't expect a new Google CEO to announce either pride or regret in 20 years or shorter time.
"Don't be Evil", time will tell us all.
I believe I will get along with Baidu soon but I will keep using www.G.cn, I like it simple.

One more thing, Google should have designed a Sayonara (goodbye) Doodle at least.

Ian M. said...

Google was not the only company to report on the attacks that start this off.

Both VeriSign's iDefense security lab and McAfee Labs issued reports on the attacks.

So unless Google somehow tricked or paid off these companies, AND somehow nobody has so far found out about it, the attacks did happen.

chi said...

Chinese government is shameless. Internet censorship do offend the interests of Chinese people. As a Chinese student in USA. I am against any censorship that deprive our freedom of information. The communist party is disgusting!

BTW, anyone heard about the "Wumao group"? There are people being hired by the communist government to post communist propaganda to the internet blogs. I believe there are some of this kind in this blog.

SRX said...

Chi is the kind of Chinese who wants to have internet freedom except when people disagree with him - then he can call them wumao. I see Chi is learning from western freedoms - fight for your freedom of information but resort to name calling to people who disagree with you.

Do you still think I am wumao Chi?

Trung said...

SRX ... you're proving yourself is one of the "wumao" from the start. Do you understand the word "Ethics"? I don't think you have a parents to teach you your personal ethics at all ... The Chinese government brainwashed yourself entirely already. Google the definition of "Ethics" then figure out what the heck is Business Ethics and where it came from! You will see what you've been missing or what your government haven't taught you or your parents haven't taught since the day your brain is developed!

Trung said...

What do you know about freedom? Can u define the word freedom? Or Freedom is just a "flyin' sausage" that your government has been feeding you? Western Freedom what is the Western Freedom or Eastern Freedom? "Do you understand the word "freedom" coming out of my mouth?" ROFL LMAO!