Google has threatend to withdraw its services from China saying it will no longer censor its search results on its Chinese site after it came under web attacks which originated in that country.
The US company has said that it may also be forced to close its Google.cn site, which would include the Chinese version of Google News, if it cannot find a way to operate an unfiltered search engine within the Chinese law, which currently requires it to block access to millions of websites.
Google said late last night it came under a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China” as it revealed that Google Mail accounts of human rights activists were also hacked into.
The statement from the company said: “We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech.”
Google explained that, when the site was set up in 2006, the benefits to Chinese people of increased access to information and a more open internet outweighed their reluctance to censor some results. The move led to waves of criticism that it placed commercial opportunities above its company ethos “to be Good”. However, it seems this could now be reversed.