back to article Google may exit China after 'highly targeted' attack

Google plans to curb its controversial practice of censoring search results in China after uncovering a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack" designed to steal information about human rights activists from its Gmail service and at least 20 other large companies. The attack that hit Google in mid-December originated in …


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  1. Neal 5


    perhaps Google doesn't own the internet afterall. I mean if the puny Chinese can bring down goliath, then Goliath is going to be mightily ana++y f+++ed if it wanst to (ahem) enter N.korea, Cuba or dare one even say it Laos.

    1. AndrewV

      North Korea, Cuba & Laos

      Don't be silly.

      There's no money to be made in those countries.

    2. Notas Badoff

      Puny Chinese?

      Puny Chinese? Where has your head been located until now? They've been graduating high-level IT people for some years now and not much is impossible for them to accomplish, given a direction and the desire. With a mania for control and a mandate to best everyone else in the world, a central government-led 'implementation' will make Google's accomplishments look pale indeed.

      Google wants to dominate the Internet. China wants to dominate. Period. Which marketing plan do you think is going to shape your world more?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        not really ...

        You think the central government of the PRC can make a better search engine and a more profitable advertising company than Google? I don't think Google succeeds from a "desire to control" and a "given direction," but from good ol' American innovation. I don't see anyone else using Baidu ...

        I'm pretty sure the central government of China is good at building long walls, paying for Olympic stadiums, and subsidizing steel manufacturing.

        1. James Hughes 1


          Of course, since most of the world population is in China, they probably don't care that Baidu (whether its any good or not) isn't used by anyone else....

        2. Sid James
          Thumb Down

          ...I don't see anyone else using Baidu ...

          That's because you don't live in China or Japan where they have a huge market.

          State-run stats but

          "Baidu's usage share to be 74.3% nationwide, compared with Google's 14.3%."

      2. Bumpy Cat


        Please look up "sarcasm" and then reread the post you replied to.

  2. maal

    There goes the share price

    A BIG call.

  3. Joe 3
    Thumb Up

    Ethics? Let's hope so!

    Could this be the first example of capitalists acting ethically? Let's hope so! I'll believe it when it happens, though. At least they're bringing this stuff to light!

    1. The BigYin


      This is a PR stunt. OK, the attack isn't a PR stunt, but Google's response is. They want to cover themselves in glory and lloks like the bastion of freedom so that people pay less attention to the amount of information they are collecting and the monitoring Google applies.

      Opt-out is useless.

      You will be assimilated.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Ethical Capitalists?

      Don't be naive - capitalists act in the interests of acculmulating capital. Ethics is merely a window dressing - a sideshow and distraction. Make no mistake, the US during the last century has extended and continues to exercise hard military power across the world to protect the interests of capitalism - promoting in effect the political and corporate vested interest of keeping the minority wealthy ruling elite at the top of the materialist stack.

      > At least they're bringing this stuff to light!

      What they don't discuss is the extent to which they filter / censor / edit their search results in other regions. When you are the dominant gateway to the worlds online information - which to a certain extent influences how people think / act - what kind of power to propagandise and promote certain worldviews / interests does that give you?

      I wonder whether this is a PR smokescreen to cover the story this week that google suggest is probably rigged. Are google search results edittorially governed? Are they filtered based on arbitrary criterea? What are the criterea? Who decides? Who profits?

    3. Ocular Sinister

      Which capitalist?

      While I certainly applaud Google's actions here, its worth pointing out that China's economic model is capitalist too with most (all?) of the state industries sold off some years ago. The people that bought them already ran them, so no-one really noticed much difference...

    4. John Lilburne


      More like a fit of pique

    5. Joe 3

      In the morning the realism kicks in

      You're absolutely right, of course - capitalism is utterly without ethics, and any ethical things that happen are merely a side-effect of a financial decision. I think I was feeling hopeful in my late-night daze! Still, it's keeping China's repressive government in the headlines, so that's a silver lining.

  4. shaolin cookie
    Thumb Up


    Good news about Google at last! Hats off to them if they really do this, about time some big corp maintained any moral standard.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Another dummy

      Except it's about money, not ethics.

      It's doing what the analysts wanted and withdrawing from a no-win market. Now watch Google's share price rise because it isn't losing billions in China.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Time to grind up the PR machine, ummmmmmm

    This has a terrible reek of agitprop about it. When did "Sophisticated cyber attacks from China" become news? Yeah uhuh...mmm. Perhaps this only became apparent to Big G after they began loosening the reins? Or has it just started becoming uncomfortable? Yeah .... uhumm.

    I'd dearly love to see Google walk out of China on principle, because you could then color me: "mildly impressed" with "reactionary attitudes rule, OK?" and I could perhaps re-inforce my faith in something. But I am guessing this is just the first chess move in a game where the world's populace will undergo yet another important step towards its inevitable, well-planned, well-monitored Orwellian cloud -computing, amoeba-like passive future. Or perhaps I am just being churlish, and should wait to see whether any evil is done (in other words, see no evil..). I've currently got 5 to 1 on China, so come on Google and prove me wrong!

    And for the truly and unabashedly paranoid, let's imagine a game where China symbolically caves in to Google's symbolic pressure and become the "reformed guys" (after some symbolic resistance of course). They could then gainfully employ the hundreds of thousands of state employees already hard at work monitoring and reading every single text message coming in, out and inside of China.

    Outlandish, you say? But it would appear that staffing problems are already cropping up in the new Western surveillance society. Perhaps oppression could replace plastic toy production as a new growth industry when everyone is unemployed. After all, you can only consume so many plastic toys. And how pathetic will that be? A fitting tribute to what is left of Western civilization. But before this golden future happens, I humbly suggest that we all download and view Brazil again before it is forbidden.

    1. Flybert
      Big Brother

      Western Staffing Problems

      "But it would appear that staffing problems are already cropping up in the new Western surveillance society"

      no problem .. just outsource that stuff to India

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Big Brother

        Not that kind of staffing problem, Flybert

        Predator video feeds probably won't be outsourced to India, just yet. I do agree that there is more to this than meets the eye. Perhaps Google is just working on its newest business plan

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Before I forget

    Live free or watch a screen 24/7 ..... you choose.

  7. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    'highly targeted' attack

    They typed "dissident chinese name and address" into Google?

  8. ratfox

    So Google will get out of China?

    I'd be surprised if Google really left, but I'd be even more surprised if the government let them stay without censorship... I wonder what they are trying to achieve with their bold statement? It's not like leaving China will put them out of reach of hacking attempts...

  9. Steve Roper
    Black Helicopters

    Don't be evil?

    If Google pull out of China on principle (thus reducing their market in breach of their mandate to shareholders) I may have to re-evaluate my flagging opinion of them... unless the Chinese operation is proving unprofitable and Google are simply trimming deadwood under the guise of upholding human rights - which is more likely, methinks.

    1. Alan W. Rateliff, II
      Paris Hilton

      Better approach to mandate

      If a market is inherently hostile to the operations of the company, it would be in the best interest of all involved to focus resources on a less hostile environment. Thus, I see no breach of mandate to shareholders.

      It is a maxim I follow day-to-day: for every bad customer I can get rid of, I can service two good customers. In short, if Google can tell China to take a long walk, it can focus its efforts on other markets and make better profits by doing so.

      Paris, hostile pullout.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      $600m last year

      Uhm, they made $600 million last year, so yeah, deadwood...

      Google is Pure icon please!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do no evil?

    Good to see that Google might be starting to live up to their slogan. Not the way for China to foster good will and trade.

  11. thejynxed


    I notice how little mention was made to the fact that Google is the largest stakeholder in Baidu.

    Even if they pulled "Google" out of China, they aren't pulling Google out of China.

    What a show.

    1. Rob W 2

      Biggest stakeholder?

      I seem to have stumbled upon an article saying quite the opposite, but perhaps I am just lacking sufficient information?

    2. John 203
      Thumb Down

      @thejinxed - Google Doesn't Own Baidu

      Where did you get the information that Google was the largest shareholder in Baidu?

      Google held a 2.6% stake in Baidu that it offloaded in 2006.

  12. Bob 18
    Paris Hilton


    I can't figure out the relationship between the (stop the press! breaking news!) Chinese hackers and Google's decision to stop censoring in China (which is tantamount to pulling out of China). I mean... why would one cause Google to decide the other?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    The Giant Kill bot has reached its limit!

    It seems the Giant Kill bot known as Google has reached its limit and has decided to pull out of china!

    Some say Google has blood on its hands, Its more like its on thier hands, thier cloths all over the floor and on all the walls and its slowly pooling under the sofa!

    Mark my words, something really bad is comming and Google are pulling out to try and save thier own ass.

    Can we now shave the heads of Google employees?

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Block 'em

    As far as I can, I block all traffic from China.

    AC: The PRC secret service might read El Reg

    1. Sebastian Brosig
      Black Helicopters

      @AC Posted Wednesday 13/01/10 5:01

      >The PRC secret service might read El Reg

      not only that: they read el Reg's web server logs also...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Black Helicopters


        have your MAC address for checking against hardware for when they come knocking on the door!

    2. It wasnt me

      Couldnt agree more

      Why is China not not block completely and utterly? Physically remove any comms links from China. Its not like the serve any useful purpose. Hacking and spam severed overnight, and its probably the very best way of getting the chinese population to stand up for their human rights. I geninely cant understand the need for a web link to china. We dont even understand the character set. The restof the world would be a better place if China were left to run their own internet (and entire tch sector) rather than stealing everyone elses.

    3. Nic 3


      I hope you're joking but depressingly I bet you're not.

      You eat "Freedom fries" don't you?

      What you are saying is that despite the Chinese being censored by their own government, you thought you would help their Govt out with a little sensoring of your own. Nice.

  15. c3
    Dead Vulture

    Eat your heart out, Orlowski :D

    So how you gonna spin this one against Google ?

    No matter rhe real motuves, they get bonus points for the fact that they publicly criticize China when everyone from governments to large companies has been treating it with kid gloves and doing its best not to upset it.

    I really don't get all the blind hate for Google when they've been a major engine of innovation. They are the reason your mailbox size in counted in GB instead of MB. They pushed many free products, forcing many others to follow suit. Their papers inspired better open source products like Hadoop. Their push to get cheaper and more efficient data centers has many other companies trying to follow in their footsteps - and they get to save some money and we get to breathe air that is a little less polluted. They created Android and brought some competition and pushed innovation on a market that would otherwise be thoroughly dominated by Apple. And there are many other examples.

    Of course you need to keep an eye on them and not just trust them, cause after all every corporation is going for profit. But harping on every little thing that they do or say became really annoying.

    1. Mike Flugennock

      What do you mean, "how are you gonna spin it..."?

      Google has willingly helped China track political dissidents since it first showed up there -- not to mention the _domestic_ intelligence-gathering they've been doing in the USA, and the user information they'd be more than glad to hand over to the US Govt at the merest sight of the infamous National Security Letter.

      No need to spin. It's all about PR. If Google can score some DNO PR points by doing this, they'll do it without even bothering to reform its US _domestic_ surveillance and intelligence-gathering operation.

      So... Google did this, Google did that, Google did the other thing. Oh, and I love that last dig about Apple "dominating" the market. Shill much?

      1. James Butler
        Thumb Down

        @Mike Flugennock

        "Google has willingly helped China track political dissidents since it first showed up there -- not to mention the _domestic_ intelligence-gathering they've been doing in the USA, and the user information they'd be more than glad to hand over to the US Govt at the merest sight of the infamous National Security Letter."

        You are regurgitating soundly disproven fallacies. I'll bet you can't come up with any non-tinfoilhat sources for your BS claims. Bummer to be trapped in a world where all of the stuff you believe to be true comes from idiots and hate-mongers, isn't it?

  16. Allan George Dyer

    Confused... does Dan know the difference between RoC and PRC?

    Why, in the midst of an article about attack on the Gmail accounts of advocates of human rights in China, is there a reference to attempts to steal source code from Silicon valley companies, originating from Taiwanese internet addresses?

    The latter appears to be simple industrial espionage between allies (Taiwan, the Republic of China is an ally of the USA, and source of high-tech components and devices). Or is there some evidence for a convoluted conspiracy theory - I know, Iran is hacking into Taiwanese computers to launch the attacks so they i) steal US technology, ii) foment suspicion between USA and Taiwanese tech companies, iii) increase US paranoia about everything Chinese.

    OK, solved that one for you. I'll get my coat, it's the one without the black helicopters.

    1. blackworx


      China is using Taiwanese addresses for those exact same reasons. Plus there's the small matter of ongoing animosity over the legal and political status of Taiwan, meaning that sullying Taiwan's international reputation is perhaps quite high up the PRC's list of priorities.

      1. Allan George Dyer


        I hadn't thought of that.</sarcasm>

        It could be any one of those, so a little more evidence would be useful. Incidentally, what makes you think that it isn't a little industrial espionage by tech companies? Isn't industrial espionage almost a required part of responsibility to shareholders for tech companies worldwide?

        1. blackworx

          Nuh Uh

          Nobody's saying it's not industrial espionage. All I'm saying is you can't dismiss one obvious explanation (which your original comment does; sorry if I misunderstood but it seems fairly unequivocal to me) just because there's another which happens to be a bit less black helicopter. Plus: corroborating evidence is there. Fair enough it's circumstantial but it's there. It's not like anyone's jumping to wild conclusions.

          And before anyone weighs in saying I've bought Google's PR bullshit please note this has nothing to do with them or their motives which, frankly, both stink.

  17. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Wait and see

    I want to see that actually happen before I believe it - and that includes subsidiaries, side corporations and other tricks to keep hanging on to a bigger potential market than anywhere else.

    As demonstrated by plenty politicians, talk is cheap.

  18. Tony Paulazzo

    Things are getting out of hand

    Roll on the singularity

    >But I am guessing this is just the first chess move in a game where the world's populace will undergo yet another important step towards its inevitable, well-planned, well-monitored Orwellian cloud -computing, amoeba-like passive future.<

    Well said sir - or ms.

    As for Google vs China: Well China has Tibet and Tianeman Sq - one more strike and out guys whereas Google just make obscene amounts of money (the capitalists wet dream), and, as far as we know, don't torture people who disagree with their viewpoint, so they're still winning on points...

    And considering their internet footprint, their data aggregation, cloud and quantum computing, they may be the instigation of singularity.

  19. wgae

    There must be much more to this story...

    ...than people might think.

    Google will reach nothing when talking to the Chinese government. Do they seriously think they can change the regime? So, if they continue to do business in China, we know the results will be censored. If they pull out, they lose much more than just search market share. They lose their growth story. They lose access to the single most important growth market. They lose market value at home.

    And they will be damaging hardware manufacturers as well. Anything with embedded Google products will not go on sale before the Google stuff is removed. That laptop with Google as default search? That handset with Chrome OS? Google's hardware "partners" will be delighted. (And forget about launching the Google phone over there anytime soon.)

    So, if you give up all this, there must be another reason.

    Do they have a PR problem in the west? Do people in the west finally switch to other services, thanks to statements made by Eric "Mr. Privacy" Schmidt?

    Or is it just plain hubris (as always with Google) who think they can run the world?

    Also, if they worry about government agencies accessing information stored on Google servers, maybe they should pull out of the U.S. as well? ;-)

  20. Bob Hoskins

    Don't be naive

    If Google are pulling out of China it's because they're not profitable.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Don't be naive → #


      My bet is its a pure business decision with a political PR win tagged on.

      In China Google's market share is tiny and the average income of the Chinese consumer is low meaning that the value of product advertising is likely realised to be less than anticipated.

      In the liberal west there is implicit value in google's capacity to influence consumers but this is depreciated in the context of the CCP's rigid control.

      Google can leave China. The CCP won't care. Any Chinese who dares complain will be thrown in gaol for a couple of decades.

      What's the point of google when they only permit access to a handful of carefully vetted sites anyway?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Squealing tantrums

    Serves them right, the amoral wankers.

    They've played fast and loose with ordinary people's access to information and now they've been bitten on the ass.


    Couldn't happen to a nicer company.

  22. Grass Mud Horse
    Big Brother

    who else?

    For the last few days IMDb has been unavailable from Shenzhen - connection requests timing out from various IPs, usually the milder form of censorship - one of the attacked? It would really suck if googlemail is blocked in the process, though. I don't want to use Hu's friends yahoo! or hotmail, dammit!

    My handle says it all ... life is strange in the PRC.

  23. Filippo Silver badge

    Re: Huh?

    I agree. Why would the attacks suddenly make censorship untolerable? There's something else going on. Most likely, it's just that Google had plans to fight the censorship anyway, and is now grabbing the occasion to maximize the PR return.

  24. Pablo
    Thumb Up


    I'd be delighted if Google actually sticks by this decision. Sure I'm cynical enough to assume first this this is all posturing and PR, but still, I can't deny being a little impressed for the moment at least. This kind of thing doesn't happen very often.

  25. Gary Turner


    "Adobe spokeswoman Wiebke Lips …"

    Do they call her Hot behind her back?

  26. Smallbrainfield

    Wiebke Lips

    Is that a real name?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Would this be the best course of action? The presence of Google, MS, Apple, Cisco, et al in China must be putting some pressure on the government there to relax their censorship, after all, it's not that long ago that foreign news didn't get in at all, let alone censored. Now, if all the western tech comapnies leave they will be replaced by home grown and heavily government controlled repalcements. Would this be the best course of action for the people of China?

    Also - if Google are suprised that their systems are being hacked routinely by the Chinese government, it suggests a certain amount of naiveity on their part. This is a well known risk in operating in China and why many companies operate their physical servers from, say, Singapore.

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      I would say...

      it strongly depends on the market, and also the definition of "pulling out".

      If all of those companies mentioned in your post were to pull out by closing down their sites and no longer buying their components from chinese firms (Yeah like thats going to happen), the amount of money that would be sucked out of China would be phenomenal. And China would be left hurting badly - it may even lead to greater social unrest resulting in either a) revolution ("Every society is only 4 missed meals away from a revolution") or b) a more dictatorial, repressive society. Your choice.

      If the pull out is more along the lines of a "we'll pull our management offices out but still buy all our components from China" well then i foresee there being no effect apart from a bit of an embarrassment globally for the PRC but nothing will change as there is no real financial loss and the PRC just wont care. And most Chinese people would never even hear about it...

      So would it be better for the poeple of China, that depends on what you want for the people of China. Personally, i dont see any changes coming in the next 20 years. A society as a whole needs the will to change to make it happen - that will was (for the masses) well and truly crushed at Tiananmen Square...

  28. James 47

    Why would nayone target Adobe?

    Unless they want the flash player source code for their cheap knock-off exploding phones?

    And once they see the source code they might wish they never had.

    As for China's 'high-level IT people'... I work with a lot of Chinese and they're no better than anyone else, a bit worse if I must be honest.

    1. James Butler

      Automatic Updates

      The reason why Adobe or any other large, popular software company would be targeted is their Automatic Update system. With so many installations set to phone home and automatically install whatever the mothership dishes out, it makes it extremely tempting to hack those repositories and replace Adobe (et al.) software with very similar software that has, shall we say, a little something extra inside.

      1. lpopman

        titular thingy

        Nah mate, It's just old skool Captain Crunch style hacking.

        1. Obtain source code

        2. Examine and find exploit.

        3. Use exploit to do nefarious things to the installed userbase


  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Google loving drones..

    Jesus people, western companies are not making money in China.. This is a tactical/financial retreat wearing a thinly veiled disguise as an ethical decision.

    Honestly, for a website full of smug morons, very few of you have anything negative to say about a company that owns way too much of the online world. Suckered in to Google's "Don't be evil" bullsh*t..


    Fact: China is hard to ignore

    Nearly 20% of the world's population and an emerging economic power house - China is hard to ignore. I am sure Google realizes it too and for all we know this talk of withdrawal from China may be a pressure tactic to be used with the Chinese officials. However, it still remains to be seen if China will consent to Google's plans. And, it is not easy for Google to exit from such a single, huge market place.

    - John

  31. Anonymous Coward

    The message is clear :-)

    Dear Google, some messages for you!

    Same story has the one of teenager who made a giant penis on the roof of his parents’ house, but this time on a car. I took the picture in a parking not far from Brussels, Belgium. The message is clear ;-)

    Further reading:

    "Not all CEOs realize that the PRC makes it almost impossible to repatriate capital from China." 'China has f*cked us' - Bill Gates, MS infighting tickled PRC Govt, alleges Google defector by Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco

  32. petur


    Well, if Google pulls out of China completely, they can just block their whole IP range and I bet that will turn away those hackers ;)

    (I know they'll find ways around that...)

  33. Stef 2
    Thumb Up

    Well done

    Bravo to Google - the UK and US governments continue to suck up to China, Google had stood up to China rather than turning a blind eye.

    Now let's wait for TheRegister's resident anti-Google hack to try and spin this to make Google look more evil than Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Thatcher, Reagan, Bush, Blair and Mandelsnot put together.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      One born every minute

      Google has wanted to pull out of China for a very long time - it loses a lot of money there, the Government will always promote homegrown Baidu instead. Now Google can pull out by claiming the moral highground.

      You really are not very bright, Stef.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      google _really_ cares... (about themselves)

      Google's negotiations with Chinese government: "No need to hack into our servers for information, just pay us and we'll hand it over no questions asked!". Purely a power play rather than being overcome with a sudden and unusual spout of morality.

  34. James Micallef Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Good for Google

    Oh, and..... Adobe's spokeswoman is Ms Lips ??

    Sounds like a Bond girl :)

  35. Knowledge
    Black Helicopters

    Double standards

    "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"

    Yeah right, not just because its China then.

    Wouldn't hear a peep if they thought the US was spying on human rights activists.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Double standards

      human rights activists / anti war / arms protestors = the "enemy within"

      Now lets go back to talking about people we don't want you to like instead ?

      Evil "Iranian" hackers...

      "Iran Cyber Army"...

      Ad infinitum. Ad nauseum.

    2. Mike Flugennock

      What do you mean, "if"?

      Everybody and their goddamn' cat knows that the USA is spying on political dissidents -- and no, we haven't heard jack shit from the Chocolate Factory about it; hell, they're likely _helping_ the US Govt. spy on people.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Emerging FAIL

    So Google aren't making enough profit from their ~25% marketshare to continue operations in China?

    The capitalist's wet dream of 1.3 billion "consumers" clearly hasn't proved lucrative enough to the giant ad broker.

    Or perhaps they've realised that the CCP already have a monopoloy on propaganda?

  37. Essuu

    It's just business

    Google does what's best for Google. This has nothing to do with ethics or morality, it's just a business decision. I assume that they're not making the profits they expected so it's no longer a viable business opportunity. It's just a better PR angle to claim some sort of ethical standpoint.

  38. Doug Glass


    "Don't Do Evil" is the same as "See No Evil" to Google. Once again, as long as there's money to be made, corporations like Google will all too often see no evil. Or maybe in G's case just not see some of the evil and let a little of it pass in order to line the boss's pockets.

    And oh yeah, if you need privacy, maybe you just shouldn't be doing whatever it is you're doing. Google is Guilty.

  39. Chris Miller

    Captain Renault lives!

    "I'm shocked, shocked to learn that censorship has been going on in China!"

  40. Anonymous Coward

    If you...

    sleep with a dog you have to expect to get fleas, or in this case bitten.

  41. This post has been deleted by its author

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A step in the right direction

    But it doesn't entirely mitigate their involvement in obstructing free access to information when they got into bed with the Chinese dictatorship in the first place.

    While it all looks highly principled reality depends on what other involvement Google has in China.

    And one has to wonder how Google would behave if a western government or agency were engaged in attempting to obtaining information about those they consider of interest, dissidents or suspected terrorists in a similar way.

    Something doesn't quite ring true in all of this. It looks like pretext rather than reason to leave, so I'm wondering what sort of negotiations Google are involved in or deals are planned?

    If Google embark on a project which enables those behind the Great Firewalls of China and Australia to have unlimited access then I may actually believe they are acting in the name of free speech. Until then, "do no evil", is mere marketing hype.

  43. Neal 5

    google vs PRC

    @Notas Badoff

    Which will shape my future more, that's difficult,see, I'm resident in the Fascist Police State known to you as the UK. My human rights already don't exist, perhaps a move to a Google free China would improve my lot in life, What do you think.?

  44. Ian Ferguson


    Has it occurred to anyone that

    1. This is a great excuse for Google to pull out of an unprofitable market (as far as I know it *is* profitable for them to be in China, but you never know for sure)

    2. This is a great story to sugarcoat the fact that lots and lots of Google Mail accounts have apparently been hacked

    Google may or may not be evil, but one thing it's definitely not is stupid.

  45. Fihart

    Exclude those who reject Western values.

    Due to the open (not to say opportunistic) aspects of our economies, Western nations have been very patient, allowing opposing cultures access to our technology, our infrastructure and even our countries.

    Time is coming when we may have to curb access by those who don't believe in freedom, if we are to maintain our own liberty -- and safety.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hold on?

    Didn't the great Mr Schmidt recently tell us that nobody had any good reason to hide anything they do on the internet? On that basis the Chinese government are doing nothing wrong and Google are the bad guys here.

    Or was Schmidt being a little bit more specific? Did actually mean that nobody has any good reason to hide anything from his company?

    Alternatively is this all the proof that Schmidt should need that he talks complete and utter schidt?

  47. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    Pot calling Kettle on line 1, please hold, we are busy spying on someone.

    Ok so the world's largest server side spyware company is highlighting (out of the goodness of their hearts) that some human rights activists email accounts are being spied on. Yeah right. Something doesn't smell right here.

    We have 4 players in this game. Google, Chinese Government, human rights activists, and US Government hiding behind Google. The human rights activists are the pawns. That leaves 3 major players seeking to gain in various ways from this.

    Chinese Government: They are easy, they seek to find out about opponents working against them.

    US Government: Well they want to paint Chinese Government as bad, (Chinese are bad, look they spy, so don't do business with the Chinese, trust us instead), although they play exactly the same spying games.

    And that leaves Google, effectively say, hey world, we do care, honest, look we are stopping people spying on these email accounts (whilst our vast server side spyware, spies on millions of people and we have ties with the US government, not least of which via directors who have connections with US security and spy services). Yeah right, Google, you care, I believe you, and pigs really can fly.

    I don't think any of the 3 major players in this are pure. They all have agendas and misinformation is all part of their game.

    As for the human rights pawns, it just goes to show how the big players take such an interest in people like them, not because they are important, but because they can stir up decent among larger numbers of people. (Large numbers of people can oppose governments so all governments fear large numbers of people moving against them. The trick in politics is working out how to hurd the large numbers of people, to do what you want them to, to give you power to influence others in power). Which is very interesting, because in this case, by Google highlighting the case, we have a definite amplifying effect to increase the attention on the Human Rights Activists opposing the Chinese Government, and bingo, we have win for the US Government, helped by their friends at Google.

    Its the usual political chess move power games. But have to give them credit, they have played it brilliantly.

    1. MyHeadIsSpinning




      /Grammar Nazi

      Upvoted your post though, because politics and business go hand in hand in this world of corporate feudalism.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        oh dear.

        1. Anonymous Coward


          Oh dear

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      reminds me

      Reminds me of playing shadow government oh so many years ago.

    3. JBH

      So far off the mark, where to begin...

      By your logic (second to last paragraph) Google are damned if they do and damned if they don't.

      Here's a tip... Google only knows what you tell it, so what's the problem? Planning to overthrow the government? Just don't search Google for your bomb making recipes. Simples.

      You're worried about privacy? Hope you don't use Facebook, 'cos that's a bloody privacy minefield and make Google look like the three wise monkies!

      1. MinionZero


        I forgot, Google fanboys can't take criticism of Google. I find it very interesting how its possible to badly criticize just about any company, but dare to badly criticize Google and its a much higher probability you will get voted down a few points. Very interesting. I guess Google employ a lot of employees who are oh so loyal to their masters. I guess they haven't yet learned to understand the old Proverb: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." - which is very much part of problem with Google and part of the long term danger.

        Ok so for fun, lets dissect a Google fanboy. ;)

        JBH:"By your logic (second to last paragraph) Google are damned if they do and damned if they don't."

        Its not damned if they do or don't, thats an attempt at a straw man argument, to misdirect away from what I was really saying.

        JBH:"Here's a tip... Google only knows what you tell it, so what's the problem? Planning to overthrow the government? Just don't search Google for your bomb making recipes. Simples."

        I'm not planning to overthrow the government. Another straw man argument, as is your bomb making recipes. There are real dangers with Google's attitude to the world and I can't stand their hypocrisy and Doublespeak.

        Plus JBH, thats 3 straw man arguments so far.

        JBH:"You're worried about privacy? Hope you don't use Facebook, 'cos that's a bloody privacy minefield and make Google look like the three wise monkies!"

        Thats an intentional Logical Fallacy combined with another straw man argument. Frankly I don't care about Facebook (at this point), because although it very much is a "bloody privacy minefield" as you say, I wasn't talking about Facebook, I was talking about Google.

        Plus you over look the fact we are getting ever more violations of privacy, liberty, dignity and freedom from all directions. But and heres a key point, Google are by far one of the foremost companies in the world lobbying and marketing to undermine everyones privacy, liberty, dignity and freedom and convince everyone they are right. So it comes as extreme hypocrisy for them to complain about spying when they spy so much.

        Also just because people use Google services doesn't mean they trust them. Also I've found from my own research asking everyone I know who is non-technical. Most do not even realize at all what Google does with their data. They don't know Google is spying on their every word and soon with Google phones + Google Maps + Google GPS, then Google will be literally spying on their every move. Knowledge is power so a company that is "trying to organize the worlds knowledge" is trying to become extremely powerful. Thats far more than business power, thats also considerable political power. So its no wonder politicians are taking notice of that power and making use of it.

        So wise up or go back to sleep.

        1. JBH

          The interwebs... it's serious business!

          "Its not damned if they do or don't, thats an attempt at a straw man argument, to misdirect away from what I was really saying."

          Um... yes it is. Would you like me to read it back to you... "Google highlighting the case ... we have win for the US Government, helped by their friends at Google.

          Now, suppose for a moment that Google had not highlighted anything and carried on censoring in China. You would be the first to start stamping on your soap-box ranting about Google being in bed with a corrupt and oppressive regime. They're screwed either way no?

          "I'm not planning to overthrow the government. Another straw man argument, as is your bomb making recipes."

          Look, you clearly like long words but I recommend you go and look up 'HYPERBOLE'. Here's how it works... Google offer a voluntary service. Nobody is forced to use it, except in the sense that the alternatives are shite. Don't want to risk your emails being read? Don't use Gmail then. Don't want them tracking your "every move"? Don't use Google Latitude then... Spotting a pattern? Google has some interesting tools which some people find genuinely useful, none of which are compulsory.

          "Thats an intentional Logical Fallacy combined with another straw man argument."

          Jesus, I bet you're a blast at parties. Pointing out that there are greater things to be worried about is not a 'logical fallacy'. I understand perfectly well that Google are an incredibly powerful and potentially dangerous company, but they're not reading people's Hotmail, they're not installing CCTV in everyone's homes and they're certainly not FORCING Latitude onto peoples' phones.

          Again, in case you missed the point again - they only know what you tell them!

    4. thebytegrill
      Thumb Up


      I like the way you think. Couldn't have said it better .

  48. wgae

    Maybe Google wanted to charge...

    ...the Chinese regime for access to the censorship API, and the Chinese refused to pay?

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just not profitable???

    I really doubt Google does this because they care about human rights. I would guess they are just not profitable in China. Normally the search results (what appears at all in the results and in which order) is determined by their holy and secret search algorithm and does not require human intervention. But if you have to censor, even with automatic blacklists, you will need quite a lot of manual work to keep your blacklists up to date and in line with changing (=stricter) government expectations. And with a margin that is just a few cents per click or less, this might not be good enough for Google.

    But it surely has a positive side effect if people start thinking about how/why/if they should do business with China, regardless of Googles true intentions. Personally, I'd avoid both ;-)

  50. ravenviz Silver badge

    Competitive edge

    I suspect China will bend eventually - or just make their own Google. They will realise that to have a competitive edge in this world freedom of information just has to make sense. We have to remember their leaders all grew up during the Cold War (or before), in 20 - 50 years when computer and internet savvy upstarts in positions of power start to make noises I think we can see more than just relaxing of restrictions to freedom of information.

  51. Tony Paulazzo

    King Arthur

    Dennis the Peasant: Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

    Arthur: Be quiet!

    Dennis: You can't expect to wield supreme power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!

    Arthur: [grabs Dennis] Shut up! Will you shut up?!

    Dennis: Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system!

    Arthur: [shakes Dennis] Shut up!

    Dennis: Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Help, help, I'm being repressed!

    Arthur: Bloody Peasant!

  52. lifeguardoflove


    Google has only been in the chinese market for around two years, even if they are making a loss, with their capital it makes no sense for them to pull out now simply over a lack of profit. Microsoft/bing has already made its commitment to china clear, even with a zero market share. The chinese market is too important.

    So without taking google's explanation at face value (and who wants to do that)..... Perhaps this is a part of US govt machinations. Perhaps there really is serious dissent inside google over its china operations (as has been reported) Or perhaps google is seeing just how much clout it has. Maybe all three.

  53. Anonymous Coward

    Either way or both - PRC or Google

    Fcukrs Fcukd.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Profit and Dross

    The "google only do it for the profits" argument holds very little water if you simply look at the Chinese market. They're making money from China, just like everywhere else, maybe not as much money as they want, but I'll bet they're turning a very healthy profit on their Chinese business. They're not likely to kick that profit into touch by upsetting the Chinese government.

    So what's going on? Could it be that Google are a bit worried about the rest of the world?

    People care about human rights in China, and they might not be happy about Google's apparent support of that regime, but is that enough to make them switch search engines? Not for the vast majority, I'll wager. So forget concerns about making money from the remaining 5bn people in the world.

    I suspect it's more to do with the governments of the rest of the world. So the Chinese have nicked some data from G-mail have they? How would it be if Google did nothing about it? Might it be the case that if Google did nothing it might appear to other governments that Google had actually handed the data over? And if other governments thought that way, what might they do to Google?

    That may sound a little far fetched, but it's not so long since Eric was preaching on about data serurity and how it should all be open to governent scrutiny if the government wanted it. Everybody thought he meant the US government, but who's to say he didn't mean any government. You and I know what he meant, and we know it was all a smokescreen to cover his real intent, but I wouldn't put it past an anti-Google politician to spin his words that way. Apply that sping, look at the situation with the G-mail accounts. Jump a tall conclusion in a single bound and Google are in bother.

  55. Mike Flugennock

    When reading the quotes from Googleoids...

    ...I'm somehow reminded of the words of the Casablanca Prefect Of Police, to Rick Blaine:

    "I'm shocked -- shocked -- to find out that _gambling_ is going on here!"

    Google bends over for the totalitarian Chinese state, and then is shocked that said totalitarian state is trying to crack their network in search of info on dissidents... and they're friggin' _shocked_.

    I think the real message from the Googleoids here is "hands off, surveilling and gathering info on activists is _our_ job!"

  56. John Sanders

    I think everybody complicates this too much

    Google had a deal with the chinesse government, they were allowed to operate from china in exchange of cooperation with the government. They thought they could make money now, or in the long run. Google believes in market competition, so beating the locals was a bet for the future.

    Google found not only a small return in profits and gmail hacks, but something they did not think about, its core code somewhere else it shouldn't have been found.

    It is obvious that the leak/hack comes from google's china branch and it is serious enough as to shut down operations there.

    Due the size of google probably there is also some other politics going on, but the main thing is that the chinesse government takes what they want when they want, be it your possesions, your live or your valuable google moneymaking machine.

  57. Steven H Taylor

    Has it occurred to anyone

    and especially, has it occurred to Google, that the PRC government would be delighted to see Google leave? It would boost native Baidu's market share to 90% or so. The Chinese would love to get rid of western tech companies, once they've copied their technologies and products. That's why they've developed their own VCD/DVD/Blu-ray Disc variants, their own telecommunications standards, etc. Good riddance, if you ask them!

    1. Steven H Taylor
      Big Brother


      BTW, the PRC government will also be glad to see Google leave because it will give them even more control over censorship than they've already got.

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