January 13, 2010

Google is taking a stance against China. After an attack, originating from China, that attempted to access Gmail accounts, Google is reconsidering its decision to do business in the country. Specifically, in addition to the attack, Google cites the necessity for them to censor the search results of Google.cn in order to do business within that country.

Their blog post about their decision seems strange to me. Let’s look at what it said: An attack, not just on Google but on several large companies, originating from country with almost 4 times the population of the United States, that didn’t even achieve its goal, is making Google consider shutting down a site and their offices in what most people would consider an extremely large market. Maybe I missed it (if so please point me in the right direction), but I don’t see a whole lot of anything that points to the attack being from the Chinese government. I guess it’s implied, but is it an assumption or a fact? If it’s fact, why force readers to make an assumption? Knowing how many crazies we have in our country who do unthinkable things, isn’t there a good possibility they’ve got ’em over there too?

Then the last section of the post focuses on China wanting to filter search results. We all know how I feel about that. However, at least to me, it comes off like Google has considered this decision for some time. Tying this attack into “a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech” – really? Does that imply that without this security breach that debate would have just stayed on the sidelines? This attack just provided a nice reason to bring it up instead of coming right out of the blue and saying that agreeing to censor results a few years ago was a bad decision. Or at least it hasn’t propelled them to the #1 search engine in China and probably won’t any time soon.

Don’t get me wrong – I fully applaud Google for finally taking a stand. Better late than never, right? I’m glad that they’ve decided to stick to their principles and not just try to win a big market by rolling over (even though that’s what they did, they just didn’t win). I just dislike the feeling that they’re trying to make it seem like leaving China is protecting us. Like if they don’t do business in China, it’ll stop any Internet attack from that country. Of all the times they could have stepped off their “we’re doing this for the good of all” pedestal, this would be one time people would still love them.



  1. Google might not be pointing out that it was an attack by the Chinese Government just in case they decide to stay in China. If they decide to stay in China they can deny that they were actually talking about the Chinese Government.

    • But you’d think it’d get pointed out from some other news source. Besides, if it’s true, is denying it in the future something they’d really want to do?

      • It’s very carefully worded to imply that the Chinese government was behind it (let’s face it, they were), but not outright state it because it’s a rather sensitive thing to go and forcibly state that the Chinese government was backing these attacks.

        Regardless, I see the move as a selfish one that they’re trying to tack ideology onto. They are leaving because the Chinese are stealing IP from them, not because of censorship.

      • I agree that it’s a very selfish move. I wonder how different their decision would be if they were holding anywhere near the majority of the search market over there.

      • It’s very, very hard to prove the identity or country of origin for a good enough hacker. It probably was at least government sanctioned, but that’s not necessarily true. China has a lot of patriotic hackers (actually crackers in this case) – that’s what 50+ years of communist brainwashing does.

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