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Global Education

Google threatens to pull out of China after hacking scare

By Justin Quinn and Shayna Sage
Published: February 2010

Due to recent hacks into its system, Google has threatened to pull its search engine from China. The hackers tried to break into the company’s software and the email accounts of several Chinese human rights activists on January 12.

Since its creation, Google has had a history of censoring its search results in China in order to comply with the government’s regulations. After the hacking incident, Google is unsure of its future in China.

“We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results, Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond said.

If Google follows through with its plan, it could potentially lose billions of dollars, which would be harmful to Google China because of the large market at stake.

China, Google’s largest global market, is worth about $1 billion and has around 350 million users.

“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, Drummond said. “We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

The Tiananmen Square Massacre is one example of topics that have been deemed too controversial for Chinese search engines. When searched, there is no information on the event due to Google’s compliance with the Chinese government.

On the 20th anniversary of the massacre, many web pages across the country were forced offline for eight days for providing information on the event.

Now, after the recent hacks, this could all change.

“We look to Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the cyber intrusions, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a speech she delivered in Washington. “In an interconnected world, an attack on one nation’s networks can be an attack on all.

Clinton called for an investigation of the attacks and spoke out against the censorship enforced by the Chinese government and others around the world, including Egypt, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

“The private sector has a shared responsibility to safeguard free expression. This needs to be part of our national brand, she said.

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