January 19, 2010
Google Again Censoring Results in China
The revolution lasted less than a week. In fact, it lasted about twelve hours. Since January 14th, Google has been serving sanitized search results at its Chinese based search engine Google.CN. The stand-off, ostensibly over a series of hack attacks originating from China, has morphed into discussions with Google complying with Chinese law. While negotiations continue, Google.CN is operating as normal. Well, almost normal anyway. Google doesn't want to lose all access to China but appears to be willing sacrifice its search business there. Google said last Tuesday it was going to cease censorship of Chinese search results as a means of retaliating against the Chinese government for the hacks which Google implies to be either state sponsored or sanctioned. The hackers hit at least 33 US based companies with the targets ranging from source-code of products to the subject lines of pro-democracy activits' GMails. Rumors placing Chinese government spies inside Google.CN have sprung up at CNet and in the mainstream media. Google has since suspended project access to several Google.CN employees and has transferred others to different offices. Many others have been given holiday leave as Google's Chinese network is given full scrutiny by Google engineers. Google's problem with a complete pull out from China is threefold. First, China is a massive market for Google's newer products such as the Android operating system and the Google Phone. Second, Google Docs is popular in Asia, giving it a leg up on rival Microsoft in the productivity market. Third, China is now the industrial heartland of the North American market. Fully leaving that market might imperil Google's access to low cost manufacturing of units such as the Google Phone. Google's problems in China are manifest especially now that it has laid down an ultimatum to the government it can not publicly back away from. Google will likely have to pull its search business out of China but today, we see Google making moves to save access for its other products.