Google is set to defend the integrity of its motto ‘don’t be evil’, after threatening to abandon operations in China if it cannot operate its google.cn search engine free from censorship.
Google cited a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China” as its reasoning – after attempts were made to access Google mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. An alleged 20 other companies were also targeted.
Chinese law requires Google install filters that prevent users free access to information available elsewhere in the world, such as the image of a man standing in front of a tank during the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident.
Free access and freedom of expression however are at the heart of the search engine’s ‘don’t be evil’ credo.
If Google were to withdraw they would lose out on an estimated £250million in revenue; small by comparison to its worldwide revenues of over £20 billion, and they may forfeit their 15% share of searches made in China to local search engine Baidu.
Google is intent on expansion into mobile phones and so-called ‘cloud computing’ – where users would leave their documents, photos and music on servers rather than on their PCs.
The consumer’s trust is essential if Google’s expansion is to succeed as it would need to safeguard such personal information, trust which is endangered if cyber attacks occur from China, with whom Google agreed to engage, censorship included, in 2006.
The White House and Yahoo have backed Google’s stance against censorship while Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard have chosen not to support Google.
Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer told the Financial Times: “Every large institution is being hacked, I don’t think it’s a fundamental change in the security environment on the internet.”
Thanks to Jon Jeffryes for the picture.