Jan 12 2010
In what may be the most significant news posted to this blog in a long time, the Official Google Blog reports that Google will be working with the PRC government to deliver an unfiltered google.cn to users in the PRC. If an agreement with the PRC government cannot be reached, google.cn may suspend operations. From the blog post:
We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.
This move is in response to an internal Google investigation that revealed widespread targeting and surveillance of human rights activists with interests in the PRC. The blog indicates that there are two distinctly different problems that were uncovered. One involved the compromise of internal Google intellectual property and the other involved the accessing of gmail accounts by unauthorized third parties.
…we have discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties.
Google believes that the sophisticated attacks that resulted in the internal compromise of Google information have also hit more than 20 other organizations.
So what does this mean? It is difficult to say at this point. Perhaps it will draw attention to the censorship issue as well as the widespread hacking frequently attributed to the PRC government. I think it will be unlikely that google.cn will be allowed to operate in the PRC without filtering its search results. This may mean that google.cn will cease to exist or that it is operated outside of the PRC where it will probably get GFW’d. Either way, Baidu wins.
It would be very cool if others (yahoo!, microsoft) follow suit.
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