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Google Hacked, May Pull Out of China

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the now-you've-done-it dept.

Google 687

D H NG writes "Following a sophisticated attack on Google infrastructure originating from China late last year, Google has decided to take 'a new approach' to China. In their investigation, Google found that more than 20 large companies had been infiltrated and dozens of Chinese human rights activists' Gmail accounts had been compromised. Google has decided to 'review the feasibility of [its] business operations in China,' no longer censoring results in Google.cn, and if necessary, to 'shut down Google.cn, and potentially [Google's] offices in China.'"

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687 comments

Free trade of ideas, anyone? (5, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744826)

Couple this with Slashdot's coverage of a Baidu site hacker takeover [slashdot.org] and the constant claims of a "Don't be evil" violation for following Chinese censorship demands on google.cn... maybe there just isn't any money to be made there without problems that threaten Google's reputation that it cashes in with elsewhere. So much for free trade... this means info-technology war.

Re:Free trade of ideas, anyone? (5, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744954)

maybe there just isn't any money to be made there without problems that threaten Google's reputation that it cashes in with elsewhere.

Good question. I doubt that the cost in loss of goodwill exceeds potential revenue in China. Which in turn means that there might be something else at play. Does Google want to play hardball with China? Is it concerned that the external costs of doing business in China (exposed servers, lots of red tape, etc) outweighs the revenue it gets from being available in China?

Either which way, I'm going to follow this. I doubt that much will change - but the various exchanges and discussions that come up around this should make for a good read.

Re:Free trade of ideas, anyone? (4, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745160)

I wonder if the Google ad model works when your target audience has at best 1/4 the per capita GDP (one recent report put Beijing at $10K (much more than China as a whole but perhaps representative of Chineese internet users) as compared to $40k for the US)? In other words if ad revenue scales with GDP can Google still make money powering and maintaining servers if their revenue is 1/4 as much? And does ad revenue really scale with GDP? I would think not as necessarily less of that is available for non-essential purchases which is the majority of the market for advertisers.

Re:Free trade of ideas, anyone? (5, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745182)

Good question. I doubt that the cost in loss of goodwill exceeds potential revenue in China.

Good summary of GP's point. Bu, then you say this:

Does Google want to play hardball with China?

There's no hardball involved. Google looks at China and goes "It cost us more than it's getting us." Pure business, with the added bonus of nice PR for being the first corp that said no to the PRC.

And this is devastating for the Chinese government. After keeping their populace docile and stupid, what they want more than anything else is to be taken seriously as an economic player, sit at the big boy's table and rake in some of that fat global trade cash. So, when one of the biggest companies around says China's market is more hassle than it's worth, it shows them up for the bumpkins that they still are.

But we knew this was coming (and hopefully Nixon did too). Can't have all the benefits of capitalism without losing some of the "benefits" of totalitarianism. You can have some of one and lots of the other (like most Western democracies), but not lots of both.

Re:Free trade of ideas, anyone? (5, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745256)

I doubt that the cost in loss of goodwill exceeds potential revenue in China

Since the average annual wage for much of China is still about $500 per year, I think the financial calculus for dealing with them might be a little more complicated that you suggest.

Remember, even though annual disposable income in the big cities is as high as $2000 per year on average, there are one whole hell of a lot of people in China who are still dirt poor and aren't going to be buying a lot of products seen advertised on Google.

It's going to be interesting to see how this shakes out. I suspect that the core values of the founders of Google haven't changed that much over the years, but their great success may have led them to believe that they are as likely to change a repressive society like China or Iran as those societies are to change Google.

It still remains to be seen if their egos are right or not. Chinese society with all its complicated stratification and variety has been around a good deal longer than Google, but I've seen big and varied societies make enormous changes in a very short time during my own lifetime.

Re:Free trade of ideas, anyone? (3, Interesting)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745272)

I love and use Google's products, and am strongly against China's censorship, but if China backs down to Google on this I feel like I should be more frightened than elated.

free trade requires bandwidth (1)

johnjones (14274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745282)

you have to have bandwidth and frankly the links in and out of china are pretty bad....

I wonder if google.com.hk has these problems or if the crawlers had problems...
after all the dns results do not match for all resolvers and sometimes results in tw rather than USA

I am actually in favour of not capitulating and doing what google shareholders would like....

regards

John Jones

http://www.johnjones.me.uk [johnjones.me.uk]

Excellent idea (3, Interesting)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744848)

Why wait?

Re:Excellent idea (1, Redundant)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744884)

This sounds like a call for objections right now. Unless somebody comes up with a good reason they should stay, Google may start winding down Chinese operations and replace google.cn with a redirect to google.com until China replaces that with Baidu.

Re:Excellent idea (1)

iammani (1392285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745306)

May be for support from the US government, so that they will have some backing in case China decided to retaliate somehow.

I say pull out... (5, Insightful)

Geldon (444090) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744868)

Google has been skirting the edge of their "don't be evil" policy with China since the start. If you have to censor your search results, it's not worth the trouble.

Re:I say pull out... (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744920)

Maybe it's finally struck them that getting into a market under the claim that somehow censored search results will set people free was completely absurd.

Re:I say pull out... (5, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744976)

Especially since they've determined the target of the attacks were the gmail accounts of human rights activists.

Doesn't it seem just a LITTLE odd that the Chinese government would want this information, Google knows someone wants this information, and the attack originated in China?

I don't blame them for threatening to pull out, its likely that whoever attacked Google was on some form of Chinese government payroll. Over or under the table.

Re:I say pull out... (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745266)

They should make their infrastructure in China a "front", run the servers and all the behinds stuff in another country, lock it down tight [EG]

Re:I say pull out... (3, Insightful)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745022)

Having the search engine available, and notifying people that results have been removed, is probably better than simply not making it available, leaving people using engines which don't tell them when stuff has been censored. They've also done much better than others such as Yahoo!, who keep data in China and actively help the authorities track down dissidents.

Re:I say pull out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745134)

You people are too funny with your self-important lashing out at google for this and other google topics. Everyone's immediate reaction to filtering and blocking in China, etc. is "OH NO, HOW CAN THEY BE DOING THIS?" They are a company, they can do what serves their customers, it is not "evil". Get over it. Google's job is to make a profit.

It is not google's job to help activists of any type and at any location. The activists can use many other methods to communicate. This is like going to the snackbar at a movie theater and demanding that they sell steak and lobster otherwise they are censoring you and blocking your freedoms. The hacking is an unrelated issue, China has been hacking everyone for years.

Re:I say pull out... (5, Funny)

DrGamez (1134281) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745336)

This is like going to the snackbar at a movie theater and demanding that they sell steak and lobster otherwise they are censoring you and blocking your freedoms. The hacking is an unrelated issue, China has been hacking everyone for years.

They never sell steak at snack bars. It's not like you're asking for soda and they say they have none, you know there is soda out there but someone is telling the snack bar not to stock it. Steak and lobster? What search engine do you see your movies at?

Re:I say pull out... (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745474)

Google has been skirting the edge of their "don't be evil" policy with China since the start. If you have to censor your search results, it's not worth the trouble.

China's new motto: don't be more evil than our business partners.

What's the impact? (4, Interesting)

hawkeye_82 (845771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744876)

I honestly want to know.

What would the impact of Google pulling out of China mean to citizens? How popular was Google, compared to Baidu, Bing, Yahoo, etc. in the Chinese web search space?

Re:What's the impact? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30744930)

Google controls ~25% of the search traffic in China. Not the monolith they are in Europe or the U.S. but enough that everyone in China would know the government was blocking Google. On the other hand they are currently running a major crackdown on internet porn and could potentially try to use that (and google's "refusal to help protect Chinese children from western vice) as an excuse.

Re:What's the impact? (5, Insightful)

rgo (986711) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744980)

While the impact for chinese people could not be that large, the impact for Google is huge. It is a really ballsy move from them to risk losing the enormous chinese market.

Re:What's the impact? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745252)

I wonder how responsive the market is to google ads. Are they even relevant? Having a large number of people who don't use the ad services is pointless.

Is it? (5, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745462)

Google had a great reputation with its "Do no evil" motto. And then they went into China and they lost it.

What is worth more to google. A great reputation in the west and no business in China, or a sullied reputation in the west and lousy business in China that may be cut off any day when the government chances its mind? You seem to assume like many others that doing business in China is easy, just follow the rules and you make a profit. But that is not the case. You IP is an open target, the government can change the rules whenever it wants and the local competition is heavily entwined with the state.

That makes for a difficult operating environment. It is indeed a brave move by Google to go against the Wall Street mentality of "a penny today" but long term it might be the wisest move they ever make. At least they are sending a signal that there are limits. It seems that at the end of the crisis, something might be changing. Even the US seems to be considering to tax banks... unthinkable in the past. New firms are starting up that claim they will things different and now google being the first to question the Wall Street wisdom that doing business in China is worth everything.

And as for enormous. China only passed Germany this year in exports. The market really ain't all that large. Large parts of it are dirt poor and the rest works for pennies. India is equal in population size and a lot more open. You don't see everyone bending over backwards for India do you? Wall Street loves China, no meddling human rights to upset things, simple rules. But Wall Street has shown it doesn't know shit.

I am frankly surprised at reading this story. Either we soon will get an update that this guy was fired or Google is very serious about this. Because somewhere in China, someone just fainted. The Chinese government does NOT want google to just disappear because of its actions, the average Chinese person doesn't really believe that censorship affects him/her personally. It is just for troublemakers. When google goes (and with that youtube etc etc) it will be noticed far more clearly then some dissident being locked up.

Who knew, Google might actually life up to its motto "Do no evil". Wonder what other companies will do... If Google follows-up on this, MS apologists lost a major piece of ammunition.

So what will happen in practice? (5, Interesting)

RDW (41497) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744878)

My guess: Google stops censoring itself, gaining credibility for its belatedly 'principled' stand against the Chinese government, while sending a message to China that hacking its servers is Not Polite. China predictably steps in to filter the search results using its own mechanisms, relieving Google of the burden. Google gets to keep its advertising revenue, while the users behind the Great Firewall get (at best) the same censorship as before. Now if Google really wants to make a point, with a genuine and serious risk of losing business, how about making google.cn an exclusively SSL site and seeing how fast China blocks it..?

Re:So what will happen in practice? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745012)

It wouldn't work. In response to the ability to use google via SSLthe chinese government added URL string scanning to it's list of tools years ago. They could still check people for using banned keywords (and greatly increase the banned list if it is google) and block the specific requests. Google would need to change it's entire infrastructure to no longer pass the keywords in the URL string (even encoding them wouldn't work as they could simply test by entering the strings and then scanning on the resulting URL) It could be done but not quickly, not easily, and it would be expensive as hell

Re:So what will happen in practice? (1)

sych (526355) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745046)

HTTP POST?

Re:So what will happen in practice? (3, Interesting)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745232)

That's exactly what I was thinking. Most HTTP servers and related software treat GET and POST variables in exactly the same way unless explicitly told not to. I haven't tried a POST request from Google yet, but I'd be very surprised if they don't support it.

Besides, GET should still remain private, as the first thing that happens in an HTTPS connection is the SSL handshake. (BEFORE the URL string is sent) All the government would know is that someone was connecting to google.cn via HTTPS.

The government still controls the .cn TLD (3, Informative)

nullchar (446050) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745430)

The government still controls the .cn TLD, and they could take over the domain or remove it from the root zone at a whim.

Re:So what will happen in practice? (5, Informative)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745118)

What? The URL string is not available over an SSL connection. Here's a transcript, including headers, of an HTTPS request.

AW#$GAWE$gae3gtraweRGEGaergaweRGTawerGTAWERGTW#trgse3ryg35g

You get the idea. No URI string available. All they could detect is the destination server.

Re:So what will happen in practice? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745348)

That looks like some interesting perl code you have there. What does it do?

Re:So what will happen in practice? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745162)

IIRC, the URL is even encrypted in a HTTPS request and the ONLY things that are not are the IP and FQDN

Re:So what will happen in practice? (3, Informative)

wbren (682133) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745176)

Not true. The secure connection is established before the HTTP request (containing the URL) is transmitted.

For added irony, I'll refer you to Google.cn [google.cn] for an explanation.

Re:So what will happen in practice? (1)

diakka (2281) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745078)

Is it convenience? or is it actually going to hurt China more? In some sense, if businesses and people have come to rely to a great degree on google, then to pull out would certainly hurt China as a whole and possibly encourage an opening up from within. On the other hand, they might just figure that the Chinese market is a lost cause in the long term since policy can block out foreign competition, ala renren vs facebook. This is mostly speculation on my part and I may have no clue what I'm talking about, but just some thoughts that occured to me.

If google really wanted to make an anti censorship statement, maybe they could provide free vpn service. I imagine some heads might roll (quite literally) over that.

Re:So what will happen in practice? (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745114)

Now if Google really wants to make a point, with a genuine and serious risk of losing business, how about making google.cn an exclusively SSL site and seeing how fast China blocks it..?

Because Google isn't stupid, maybe? Read their charter [google.com] . That do no evil thing people bitch about all the time has only one specific tenet that is not vague: following the law. Wherever Google establishes a business presence, it will follow the prevailing law of that jurisdiction. If the country google operates in says "Fork over all private data," they're going to do it. If that country says "Censor this guy into oblivion," google smiles and makes it happen. Because Google is a business, and doing otherwise would compromise its profitability -- and then their executives would get in trouble, possibly even terminated for cause.

Google isn't pulling out because China is big and evil -- they're pulling out because company assets were threatened.

Re:So what will happen in practice? (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745378)

Google gets to keep its advertising revenue

It would be very interesting to hear more details on this end of things. The entire blog entry was completely about search, but google is really in the ad business, not the search business.

From the blog, it sounds like they are probably no longer going to have employees or offices in China. That seems like it would put quite a crimp in their ability to do ad business there. The Chinese government will presumably start blocking lots of google servers, and this would seem to make it difficult for them continue to accept payments from Chinese advertisers, or to make sure that their ads get shown to Chinese consumers.

The impression I get is that for a Chinese person who's educated and technically sophisticated, and especially if his English is good, it's really not all that hard to get uncensored information in China. The Chinese government only really cares about the possibility that dissent will grow into a mass movement.

Definitely Pull Out... (5, Funny)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744910)

I mean, we wouldn't want to impregnate China, would we?

Re:Definitely Pull Out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30744970)

Exactly. China has enough children already.

Google, FTW!!! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30744912)

This is as close to "do no evil" as they have come in years. Way to grow some balls Google!

Re:Google, FTW!!! (3, Insightful)

Tanman (90298) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745184)

Jesus Christ. It's not growing balls unless they ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING. If they don't do anything, then it's called POSTURING (aka: S.S.D.D.)

Re:Google, FTW!!! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745408)

This is as close to "do no evil" as they have come in years. Way to grow some balls Google!

What do you think it would take to get people to quit using that "do no evil" crap? That's a pull quote from the Hippocratic Oath.

Google's motto is "Don't be evil" -- there's a big difference.

shut it down! (1, Troll)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744934)

have some backbone and SHOW us that you can lead and not just follow, google.

exit entirely from that hell-hole known as china.

in fact, it may turn out that they need you more than you need them. wouldn't THAT be a nice thing to know!

more and more, I'm hating china. anything that hurts them is GOOD, I figure.

Re:shut it down! (1)

jzhos (1043516) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745240)

You are giving too much expectation to google. It is not the most important player in the market as it is in US. the top one is baidu http://baidu.com./ [baidu.com.] In fact, I doubt if Chinese people care at all if Google really poll out of China. So much a "thread".

Re:shut it down! (2, Insightful)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745310)

Doesn't China make like almost all the computer parts? We are happy enough to get hardware from them. Hell, they make most everything we use nowadays. Are you ready to give all that up?

Google Full of Crap (4, Insightful)

clampolo (1159617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744946)

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.

Oh so now they are going to discuss censorship with the Chinese. And they didn't decide to do this before? And it never occurred to them that the intelligence agencies of foreign governments would spy on them?

This all smells of some PR stunt. After investing billions in China and bending over violently for commie murderers, they still got their asses handed to them by Baidu. This is their way of pulling out of a losing market while looking like good guys.

Re:Google Full of Crap (3, Interesting)

abulafia (7826) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745124)

Call it PR, or negotiation, or leverage. Fundamentally, it is the same thing at the scale Google is talking about.

Google wants something, and thinks that now is the time to discuss it. I would guess there is more going on than just this hackery. It may well be that what they want is to close down, but I can't imagine, even if they do, that that's the whole of it - they don't seem the sort of company to simply give up on such a huge market in their core markets simply because Baidu out-"competed" them (for values of competition that do include government-level lobbying).

Re:Google Full of Crap (1)

rastilin (752802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745186)

Oh so now they are going to discuss censorship with the Chinese. And they didn't decide to do this before? And it never occurred to them that the intelligence agencies of foreign governments would spy on them?

Well no. Why would it? They operate in many countries including England, Australia, Russia and Japan. This isn't exactly a common problem and the really big problem isn't the agencies spying on them, but that they're doing it ham-handedly and causing problems.

It's fair enough that every country would try to insure it's self protection by acquiring information, but there are standards of subtlety here.

Re:Google Full of Crap (4, Insightful)

Psyborgue (699890) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745364)

You left off the rest of the quote:

...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.

It could be a PR stunt, but my feeling is that if they were just going to "discuss" it with the chinese they would have kept it behind closed doors. This sounds more like an ultimatum made publicly, and if you say something like that publicly you have to follow through or risk looking like a liar and a hypocrite. Could there be an ulterior motive? Sure. This move will make them very popular outside of China. People like to be on the side of "good" and if a company is seen as sticking up for the oppressed, I can see a lot of people buying their services and products in order to show their support and gratitude.

Re:Google Full of Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745410)

I have to agree... a target as large as google has to be just filled with confidential informants from every government in the world. It was foolish to think that this wouldnt be the case.

Re:Google Full of Crap (4, Interesting)

dapyx (665882) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745442)

They entered the Chinese market in 2006, and, in less than four years, they reached to have 26% of the Chinese market, which, you should remember, is bigger (in numbers) than the US market.

I don't think it's fair to say they were beaten by Baidu.

Re:Google Full of Crap (1)

markjhood2003 (779923) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745460)

China's brutal suppression of dissent wasn't enough to make Google unwilling to operate a censored search service there. But apparently an attack on their own infrastructure and security is.

That's pretty understandable behavior for a profit-making corporation, but the prevailing conclusion here that Google is being some sort of corporate hero is misplaced.

Cens0r (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30744948)

Try typing in Tiananmen Square on google.cn!!!

It wont work much longer :(

And the lesson is... (5, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744950)

The lesson is simple: Work with evil and evil will still screw you over. It took Google wrong enough to realize this. There's a real temptation to Godwin this with a comparison to Neville Chamberlain. But the result is clear: Google tried to cooperate with China in hope that some good with come of a compromise policy. The end result is that the Chinese still tried to infiltrate Google to serve its censorious, abusive ends.

Re:And the lesson is... (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745032)

If they couldn't hack them directly, chances are the Chinese own the lines going into and out of Google. A man in the middle attack is easy when you own the middle.

Re:And the lesson is... (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745068)

Maybe. I'm convinced that for a majority of the world's population, however, the word 'evil' is just a fairy tale concept or a word you apply to your enemies. When there is money to be made the idea of not doing something because it might mean working with 'evil' people does not stop them. And I apply this across the board, to all nations and peoples.

Re:And the lesson is... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745092)

"It took Google wrong enough to realize this."

Some sort of subtle wordplay here?

Or as confucious said it: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745104)

Go to bed with itchy bum, wake up with smelly finger!

Re:And the lesson is... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745362)

The US model of "trust until proven untrustworthy" just doesn't work. Those who intend on cheating will agree not to cheat and then break the agreement when they think we're not looking. What would be more powerful would be a threat to block access to Google properties from China until the government is overthrown, replacing them with honest news about what China's leaders are doing to its people.

Re:And the lesson is... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745402)

Well, if that's the problem, then the US is in trouble, along with much of the rest of the world. A lot of my stuff was made in China, including this computer I am typing on. We are ALL doing business with China, and we are all benefiting from it in some way.

On the other hand, it's really hard for me to see how stopping all our business with China would help anything. It certainly hasn't helped with Cuba, and in fact it's likely made the Cuban government stronger. Change needs to come from inside China, from their own people. Could a billion dollar advertising budget help them to do so?

Also, it doesn't look like Google got hurt in any way from this, other than their pride. The government (it looks like the government was behind it) was after democratic dissidents, not after the company.

Good for Google. (1)

Rooktoven (263454) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744968)

Let's see some others follow suit.

Re:Good for Google. (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745126)

This ^ . TFA:

As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses--including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors--have been similarly targeted.

The big question at this point is whether Google are really altruistic or if they just weren't making enough money and throwing a fit to save face before bowing out. What about the others who were targetted? Without a show of solidarity(others threatening to pull out or even acknowledge that they were hacked) it will appear as if Google is walking away with its tail between its legs.

Wow!! Very surprising! (4, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744972)

I don't know how much of my comment history is available at present, but it doesn't seem that long ago that I was commenting that Google is not to be trusted because they are a corporation and they are all about advertising revenue. The fact that they have capitulated to China in the past was reaffirming to my perspective.

But if this story plays out and Google pulls out of China based on the Chinese government's persecution of descenters, opposition and critics, then I have to say that Goggle will actually start changing my mind about them after all. And I have to say, just like many others, changing my mind about something is not particularly easy to do -- but if they do this, I will be PLEASANTLY surprised.

In addition to that, any U.S. company that fails to take a similar approach to dealing with China is simply without balls by comparison.

Re:Wow!! Very surprising! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745172)

thats exactly the reaction they want from you. evil, evil google.

Re:Wow!! Very surprising! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745204)

I don't think it's so much about doing the right thing as it is Google not being fond of the government hacking their servers. Governments wield a lot of power and if they're going to be attacking your company (ie. your revenue) then it only makes sense to GTFO.

Re:Wow!! Very surprising! (2, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745360)

I agree. I have felt for quite some time that while Google is not "evil", they are a corporation and are not to be trusted. However, this action sheds a new light on Google. Google was willing to compromise with China and censor their results. However, Google considers that people's email accounts are not to be accessed by those not authorized to do so. It is clear to me from Google's reaction to the hacking of dissenters' email accounts that Google believes this was the act of the Chinese government and is willing to act as if that is proven.

I can see Googles point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30744978)

I can see why Google are doing this. You cannot do business effectively in a country where the the government is actively trying to attack your systems. Also, it affected human rights advocates in Europe and the U.S. also, so it puts all of Google's operations at risk. From a pure business perspective, western companies would be worried that data stored with Google will get into the hands of their Chinese competitors.

the issue has been discussed here before: (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744982)

does a US company do business with regimes with poor human rights records?

specifically, does an internet company help such a government with restrictions on freedoms?

what if the company's motto is "don't be evil"?

score one for human rights

and score one for google's integrity

today is a good day

Re:the issue has been discussed here before: (2, Interesting)

Saint Aardvark (159009) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745062)

score one for human rights

and score one for google's integrity

today is a good day

No kidding. I'll be very interested to see what Yahoo does, especially given their own cooperation [slashdot.org] with China's secret police.

Re:the issue has been discussed here before: (3, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745108)

does a US company do business with regimes with poor human rights records?

If it is to the company's benefit.

does an internet company help such a government with restrictions on freedoms?

If it is to the company's benefit.

what if the company's motto is "don't be evil"?

Marketing slogans seldom translate to real world actions.

Re:the issue has been discussed here before: (0, Flamebait)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745194)

does a US company do business with regimes with poor human rights records?

It does business in the US. Doesn't it.

Re:the issue has been discussed here before: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745294)

No, seriously. Let's compare China's "shoot people who want freedom of speech and democracy" with the US's "put bombers in an island prison".

if you think china's human rights record (0, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745392)

is even remotely comparable to that of the usa's, i could describe your thinking in certain diplomatic terms, but i'll just go with the more direct and honest route: you're a fucking moron

Freedom (5, Insightful)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 4 years ago | (#30744998)

You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free.

Clarence Darrow

I'm switching back to google.com as my search.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745254)

I'm switching back to google.com as my search provider now. I mean, I was using bing (what a horrible alternative), but didn't like the fact google was keeping all that personal history that microsoft doesn't. Since they both did business with china, then I'd go with MS ... but now, back to google!

Re:Freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745452)

You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other [person's] freedom. You can only be free if I am free.

Neda

(21st century version of the quote)

Translation from marketspeak (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745006)

Translation: "We were cool with doing business with you, even effacing our own corporate values, because your country is a lucrative market. But it wasn't enough for us to be cooperative -- you got in our servers and messed with our stuff. And you know what -- that'll cost us more in our reputation and business costs than you're worth, so goodbye."

ain't gona happen geeks and girls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745014)

largest market in the world, and you think they will just walk away?

Re:ain't gona happen geeks and girls (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745236)

The largest market of the smallest penises. Doesn't that average out somehow?

Likely story. (1)

brennz (715237) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745026)

Chinese intelligence hacked Google.
Google realized the Chinese government cannot be trusted.
Google then posts this.....

I've wondered if gmail could support... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745054)

... encryption of the files while stored on their end. If the emails were just-in-time decrypted only while you were logged in and actually viewing them, email searches and context-advertising could still work, but while logged off, your emails wouldn't be readable by hostile parties, even after they hacked in.

(Or am I confused, and gmail encrypts the data on their end?)

I wonder how many activists will suffer torture or worse now because of this. Sad.

Wait 'til Eric hears about this (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745066)

If those human rights activists have something that they don't want anyone to know, maybe they shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

Am I right?

Wait, "Evil"? (0, Troll)

LazeLaze (1711834) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745168)

Seems to me like China has not "screwed over" Google in any way. An organized attack fails to penetrate Gmail, and gets e-mails from other third party sources for select individuals.

I'm certainly an advocate of freedom of speech, but branding China as "evil" is some serious overstatement. It's a country that has historically struggled with providing basic necessities and a reasonable standard of living to its ridiculously huge number of people.

It shouldn't be a surprise that China, preoccupied more with material matters than information, has lagged in catching on to the importance of intellectual property and freedom of speech. Google's actions are a good thing for both Google and China - they're peacefully protesting China's harmful policies in a way that actually may make a difference.

By the way, I wouldn't be surprised if the CIA did some similar hacking operations on suspected terrorists in violation with freedom-of-whatever laws. They probably just get caught less.

Re:Wait, "Evil"? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745344)

It shouldn't be a surprise that China, preoccupied more with material matters than information, has lagged in catching on to the importance of intellectual property and freedom of speech.

Don't attribute to incompetence that which can be adequately explained by self-interest. The Chinese government knows about IP and the freedom of speech. Why else do you think they're stealing IP wholesale and vigorously suppressing speech? It's just not in their interests to respect either other peoples' IP or the speech of their citizens.

By the way, I wouldn't be surprised if the CIA did some similar hacking operations on suspected terrorists in violation with freedom-of-whatever laws. They probably just get caught less.

Name a Chinese or CIA hacker that has been caught. Also, hacking people who plan to kill other people is a wee bit different from hacking companies to get at political dissidents who have committed no crimes (aside from publicly holding the wrong opinion).

If it wasn't coming from Googleblog... (3, Insightful)

deadhammer (576762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745210)

...I'd have pegged the Yes Men all over this story. As it stands, this may be a cynical business move, or this may be Google finally realizing just who they've been in bed with this whole time, but either way's a win.

I want access to my logs (2, Insightful)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745288)

I want to be able to know which addresses have connected to my account, or, more importantly, who *tried* to access it. The information is there. Why not show it? It would allow one to immediately find out someone's trying to break in.

Re:I want access to my logs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745448)

... on the bottom of your gmail screen, click on "Details". There, you have a list of recent IPs who logged into your account.

Hackers that don't mask their location? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745340)

Why wouldn't hackers working for a government intelligence agency bounce their connections through servers (or personal computers) they previously hacked in another country? I guess in this case it's more obvious who is doing the spying by looking at the people being targeted. Unless of course the whole point of this hack was to upset Google/China relations (and neither party was necessarily involved).

Perhaps the bouncing of connections around the world has been deprecated by international submarine cable taps? Or more likely, China is too arrogant to bother with masking their intentions?

Weird thing to say... (1)

naveenkumar.s (825789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745352)

It's a weird thing to say about a for-profit corporation, but I should say that I am proud of them putting principles before profits.

Real motiviation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30745388)

This move seems more like payback than it does taking the moral high ground.

  1) Chinese govt (or someone with similar motives) breaks into Google infrastructure
  2) Google discovers it
  3) Google makes a move that will upset the Chinese govt (unfiltered search results)

Payback pure and simple.

Congratulations are in order (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745436)

China isn't playing fair, so Google is playing hardball.

If their government attacks and infiltrates Google's infrastructure, Google should indeed think twice about obeying its ridiculous censorship whims.

sounds like a plan (4, Insightful)

glebovitz (202712) | more than 4 years ago | (#30745472)

I'm ready to stop buying Chinese, if possible. I've already stopped buying products manufactured in China if they are for my daughter. Anyone want to start on-shore manufacturing? Seems like German toys and French health products are the only alternative.

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