Google, the most popular computer search engine in Colorado and in the
U.S., has expanded into China to augment Google’s user base by over
35% of the market share in China. The only problem is that Chinese law
allows its government to require the removal of links on the website that
China feels are “subversive or offensive.”
Google, of course, isn’t into censorship. It threatened to shut-down
its search engine and possibly leave the country completely. Some observers
believe the real reason for the censorship is to prevent China’s
citizens from gaining access to politically sensitive information and images.
In order to explore the possibility of an acceptable compromise, Google
has temporarily agreed to the censored search engine while Google and
the Chinese government try to pursue a negotiated solution to the problem.
Apparently, China’s public stance differs from its private one.
Observers believe China doesn’t want to lose face by appearing to
be anti-technology. And at the same time, Google wants to keep China’s
very lucrative market. It is widely believed these tensions so far have
prevented a compromise.
Google notes that its China web site has been subject to hack attacks
from within China that have resulted in some of Google’s intellectual
property being stolen. Google has not directly blamed the Chinese government
for these attacks, since Google’s site was not the only site hacked.
It is believed that a number of other large companies from various business
sectors in the U.S. were also attacked. Google and the U.S. government
are investigating in an effort to determine the identity of the hackers.
Google suspects the attack on its web site was for the purpose of accessing
the Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents. Google says, however, that the
attack was unsuccessful because only two accounts were accessed. The only
information accessed in these two accounts was information such as the
date the accounts were opened and the subject line of emails, but not
the content of the emails themselves.
I will closely be monitoring this controversy to see who blinks first.