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Google Threatens To Pull Out Of China Over Cyber Attack

Wow. This could be huge. According to numerous reports Google is threatening to pull its search engine out of China after the company uncovered a massive cyber attack on its computers, which it says originated there. From the NYT:

Google threatened late Tuesday to pull out of its operations in China after it said it had uncovered a massive cyber attack on its computers that originated there.

As a result, the company said, it would no longer agree to censor its search engine in China and may exit the country altogether.

Google said that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human right activists, but that the attack also targeted 20 other large companies in the finance, technology, media and chemical sectors.

From a blog posting by David Drummond, the corporate development and chief legal officer, Google:

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. In the last two decades, China’s economic reform programs and its citizens’ entrepreneurial flair have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty. Indeed, this great nation is at the heart of much economic progress and development in the world today.

**

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.

It’s not clear whether Google will pull out completely — and if they do will Yahoo and MSN et al. be pressured to follow — or what will happen if they do. In the meantime it’s interesting to note that image searches for “Tiananmen” are apparently now showing up again on Google.cn.

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