We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.
Google’s willingness to censor search results (and sometimes even content) at the request of the Chinese government has always been difficult to reconcile with their company motto, “Don’t Be Evil”. Today, Google is taking an unusually strident position that they are unwilling to continue censoring. If they can’t come to another agreement with China, they are threatening to shut down their operations there altogether.
Officially at least, they are doing this as a consequence of cyber attacks originating in China and targeting over 20 Silicon Valley companies, mostly for their source code but also, in the case of the attacks on Google, hackers were after the Gmail accounts of human rights activists.
It looks like these attacks coming from China and the fact that they targeted human rights activists has given Google a platform and an opportunity to refuse to censor information there anymore.
And, probably not incidentally, Gmail is now going to be encrypted for all users all the time, instead of defaulting to unencrypted connections with an option for encryption.