After Google and Chinese human rights activists repeatedly reported cyber attacks stemming from China, combined with the Chinese government’s tradition of Internet censorship, Google has had enough. Google announced that it will radically change the way it does business in China or leave the country altogether.
The way Google has previously done business in China was that it had its own site for the country: Google.cn. On this version of Google, the search results are censored based on what the Chinese government deems appropriate. For example, searching for Tiananmen Square (a student uprising that resulted in a violent government response, and is currently unrecognized by the Chinese government) on Google.cn fails to bring up any results, as if the historic event never happened.
“Unfortunately we could see the dark side of technology, when they tried to subvert the things we’re building into tools of political suppression, which is the ultimate inverse of everything we stand for… that’s when it really hit home…” says a Google source.
Google’s motto has always been “Don’t Be Evil,” and limiting the information people have access to based on where they are from falls into the “Evil” category according to Google. Based on this policy, the search engine giant might resort to shutting down its Google.cn site and its office in China if the censorship policy in China doesn’t change. Small groups of Chinese citizens have shown support for Google’s decision by gathering in front of Google’s Chinese offices leaving flowers, candles and notes of support.
As of right now, we’re not sure how China will respond to this bold move by Google, but if the country doesn’t change it’s censorship policy, Google will face a huge loss of profit by leaving this huge market of Internet users to China’s homegrown competition as well as Google rivals like Microsoft and Apple.