Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Google ends collaboration with China

A couple of years ago, in a reversal of its "don't be evil" policy, Google decided to collaborate with the authoritarian Chinese regime, setting up to provide search services to the Chinese market. The search results were censored, of course - no mention of Tibet, human rights, or anything critical of the Chinese government - but Google's suits considered it was worth selling out in order to get a slice of the Chinese market.

Now they've changed their mind. The reason? They got sick of Chinese government hackers attacking Gmail in an effort to gain access to the communications of Chinese human rights activists:

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, 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, and potentially our offices in China.
The lesson: you can't do business with China if you respect human rights. And hopefully, other internet companies will follow suit.