Due to a hacking attempt on Google originating from China, as well as a review of filtering practices on Google.cn, the company may exit its Chinese operations.
In December 2009 hackers tried to access Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists but were not successful. However, as part of the investigation into the attack, the company discovered that the accounts of dozens of US-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties.
These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users’ computers, according to the company.
Google also found that the attack was not just on Google but on some twenty other companies in a variety of industries as well. “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 writes on its official company blog.
The company has decided it is no longer willing to continue censoring results on Google.cn, and will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which it could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.