13 January 2010

CN - Google: A new approach to China

(Official Google Blog)
In mid-December, Google detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident was something quite different. First, this attack was not just on Google. Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information, rather than the content of emails themselves. Third, 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. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users' computers. These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered - combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web - have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. 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.