Google may quit China over censorship

Melanie Lee and Alexei Oreskovic Reuters 13.01.2010 11:18
Google may quit China over censorship - Google - Technology - China - Internet - search engine - censorship

Internet giant Google Inc has made a shock threat to quit China, the world's biggest Internet market by users, after hackers accessed human rights activists' e-mail accounts.

Google's announcement on Tuesday comes amid growing tensions between China and the United States over Internet freedoms, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton set to announce a technology policy next week to help citizens around the world have access to an uncensored Web.

China has over 350 million Web surfers and annual search revenue topping $1 billion.

Despite its allure, anyone doing business there must adhere to strict Chinese censorship rules that ban discussion or display of pages on sensitive topics ranging from Tibetan independence to the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.

Companies like Google and Microsoft, along with domestic giants Baidu and Sina, all adhere to such rules, though none likes to speak publicly about them.

In its latest China roadbump, Google said it had uncovered a sophisticated attack on the email accounts of Chinese human rights activists using its Gmail service, and that more than 20 other companies were similarly attacked.

"These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered -- combined with 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 Chief Legal Officer David Drummond said in a statement.

"We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China."


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