Google Could Lose China
by Brittney Storm on 01/13/2010
With the rise of social media usage, some international governments are having a harder time than ever censoring free speech among their citizens and the information they can access online. With a recent attack on Google that originated in China as well as a “Twitter Revolution” in Iran stemming from violent street protests, countries are attempting to limit freedom of speech via social media and online resources.
The news of a cyber attack on Google’s network infrastructure might have serious repercussions for China’s Google site, google.cn. Google has announced that it will no longer attempt to censor its Chinese site and will leave China if government officials continue to require the search engine to censor its results.
Google officials said that the attack, which attempted to access the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists in the United States, Europe and China, posed a security threat for the company. At least 30 additional companies were also targeted.
The news was largely censored in China, but those able to access Twitter (despite a Chinese firewall) voiced their concerns. According to a New York Times article, one Twitter user said, “It’s not Google that’s withdrawing from China, it’s China that’s withdrawing from the world.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed serious concerns about the attack and said in a statement, “We have been briefed by Google on these allegations, which raise very serious concerns and questions. We look to the Chinese government for an explanation. The ability to operate with confidence in cyberspace is critical in a modern society and economy.”
Only time will tell if an agreement can be reached between Google and Chinese officials. As more information (especially social media sites) is censored online in China, the loss of Google will only mean less access to the outside world for Chinese citizens and a growing limitation on free speech.