Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Security Your Rights Online Technology

Google Hacked, May Pull Out of China 687

Posted by kdawson
from the now-you've-done-it dept.
D H NG writes "Following a sophisticated attack on Google infrastructure originating from China late last year, Google has decided to take 'a new approach' to China. In their investigation, Google found that more than 20 large companies had been infiltrated and dozens of Chinese human rights activists' Gmail accounts had been compromised. Google has decided to 'review the feasibility of [its] business operations in China,' no longer censoring results in Google.cn, and if necessary, to 'shut down Google.cn, and potentially [Google's] offices in China.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google Hacked, May Pull Out of China

Comments Filter:
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:01PM (#30744826)
    Couple this with Slashdot's coverage of a Baidu site hacker takeover [slashdot.org] and the constant claims of a "Don't be evil" violation for following Chinese censorship demands on google.cn... maybe there just isn't any money to be made there without problems that threaten Google's reputation that it cashes in with elsewhere. So much for free trade... this means info-technology war.
    • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:13PM (#30744954)

      maybe there just isn't any money to be made there without problems that threaten Google's reputation that it cashes in with elsewhere.

      Good question. I doubt that the cost in loss of goodwill exceeds potential revenue in China. Which in turn means that there might be something else at play. Does Google want to play hardball with China? Is it concerned that the external costs of doing business in China (exposed servers, lots of red tape, etc) outweighs the revenue it gets from being available in China?

      Either which way, I'm going to follow this. I doubt that much will change - but the various exchanges and discussions that come up around this should make for a good read.

      • by afidel (530433) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:30PM (#30745160)
        I wonder if the Google ad model works when your target audience has at best 1/4 the per capita GDP (one recent report put Beijing at $10K (much more than China as a whole but perhaps representative of Chineese internet users) as compared to $40k for the US)? In other words if ad revenue scales with GDP can Google still make money powering and maintaining servers if their revenue is 1/4 as much? And does ad revenue really scale with GDP? I would think not as necessarily less of that is available for non-essential purchases which is the majority of the market for advertisers.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ls671 (1122017) *

          Don't forget China's population is 4,3 times the one of USA. That still makes and interesting market when you consider that there is always richer people in any population. Granted, it would constitute a smaller market than USA but still a larger market than many other countries.

        • A tangibles option (Score:4, Interesting)

          by zogger (617870) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @10:40PM (#30746314) Homepage Journal

          Google has a tangibles option. They could start not emphasizing ads as much as actually selling stuff themselves, ie a super amazon effort. They are starting now with their cellphone, this branching out..and there is nothing stopping them from going on to all sorts of other tangible products, which would make their advertising just a force multiplier instead of an economic end game, even if all they started out with was a profit sharing deal with ad buyers..

          • by a_nonamiss (743253) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @01:05AM (#30747288)
            Interesting, but what would happen to their current business model? (which has proven HIGHLY profitable since its inception.) How many ads do you see on Amazon.com? None, because they sell just about everything. Also, it would take Google many years and billions of dollars in capital to switch their business model. They would have to build up a distribution infrastructure, cut deals with suppliers, develop marketing tools, etc. True they have money to burn, but why, when they're doing OK as it is?

            In the end, Google is pretty good at being Google, and doesn't really need to crack into a completely different market, like selling everything, at least, not yet. Maybe years down the road, or maybe they could sneak into it very slowly, but I just don't see this as a practical business move any time soon.
        • by mgblst (80109) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @12:08AM (#30746920) Homepage

          Google got $300 million in revenues last year in China. Sure, that might not be as much as you earn, with your ill informed postings around the internet, but it is still a lot of money.

        • by Rand310 (264407) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:31AM (#30747748)
          The internet has an interesting barrier on entry though - a computer and an internet connection. If you can afford those things in China, you can afford what is being advertised to you. The 'average' wages tell you little about the distribution of wealth in China. There are a number of very well off people living in the large cities. Luxury cars have a 100% luxury tax, and yet you still see countless Ferraris, BMWs & Mercedes. And even if the proportion of the population that is wealthy enough to be a customer of Google is much smaller than in the US or elsewhere, you get to multiply it by their enormous population. I don't have the numbers, but I would wager that by number there are a great deal more (USD) millionaires in China than there are in particular smaller European states, and Google seems to do well in those places.
      • Good question. I doubt that the cost in loss of goodwill exceeds potential revenue in China.

        Good summary of GP's point. Bu, then you say this:

        Does Google want to play hardball with China?

        There's no hardball involved. Google looks at China and goes "It cost us more than it's getting us." Pure business, with the added bonus of nice PR for being the first corp that said no to the PRC.

        And this is devastating for the Chinese government. After keeping their populace docile and stupid, what they want more than anything else is to be taken seriously as an economic player, sit at the big boy's table and rake in some of that fat global trade cash. So, when one of the biggest companies around says China's market is more hassle than it's worth, it shows them up for the bumpkins that they still are.

        But we knew this was coming (and hopefully Nixon did too). Can't have all the benefits of capitalism without losing some of the "benefits" of totalitarianism. You can have some of one and lots of the other (like most Western democracies), but not lots of both.
        • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @09:06PM (#30745546) Journal
          It's not the first foreign company that had massive problems with China, even in the last year. The government arrested employees of the Australian Rio Tinto steel company a few months ago, after negotiations broke down with a government backed company (the government didn't want to pay as much as Rio Tinto wanted to charge). The government arrested the employees for industrial espionage and bribing.

          The scary thing is, it is essentially impossible for a foreign company to do business in China without bribes, even a small company. The Rio Tinto case wasn't publicized much in the mainstream media (at least in the US), but it was fairly well covered in the Wall Street Journal, and I guarantee executives of a lot of companies paid attention. Being arrested in China because the government doesn't like you is a risk that can outweigh a huge profit margin.

          I would honestly suggest that if you are considering outsourcing to China, that you do it instead to India or Eastern Europe, because the unknowns are much smaller.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Trieuvan (789695)
            Similar thing happens in Vietnam (a small China's mirror) btw http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126311541085623535.html [wsj.com]
          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @10:57PM (#30746448)

            It's not the first foreign company that had massive problems with China, even in the last year. The government arrested employees of the Australian Rio Tinto steel company a few months ago, after negotiations broke down with a government backed company (the government didn't want to pay as much as Rio Tinto wanted to charge). The government arrested the employees for industrial espionage and bribing.

            An acquaintance works for a Canadian company that sells machines to apply a specialized chemical coating to certain types of containers (the vagueness is intentional). A trip of executives and engineers resulted in a sale of four units (enough for a small company) and a couple of hundred thousand liters of coating to a mid-size Chinese company.

            On the next trip their were no more sales. In fact, the machines were reverse engineered (as was the coating substance) and are actively being sold at a fraction of the price, despite that all of the Canadian stuff had appropriate IP protection.

            Between this sort of stuff and the shenanigans that the Chinese are involved in with respect to cooking the books of their stock markets, I'm not so sure I'd call them an "emerging market". More like an "emerging bubble" waiting to take down their investors in the next few years.

          • by twostix (1277166) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:05PM (#30746504)

            "the government didn't want to pay as much as Rio Tinto wanted to charge"

            Which is the crux of the issue with China that I pray people in the west start waking up to.

            When you do business in China, you're doing business with the corrupt and totalitarian Chinese Government - a nasty operation that has no intent of *ever* being any less corrupt and ruthless than it is now. The separation between any so called "private" business and the government (especially big business) in China is whatever the party leaders say it is at any given moment. Rio thought they were negotiating a tough iron ore deal with the Chinese foundries as they would do with any private business in any western democracy, that is they played hardball with them.

            The problem is, the Chinese government decided it didn't like said foundries being negotiated with in such a harsh manner (who does this pip squeak company think it is embarrassing us internationally!) and so threw the top man Rio man in China in gaol where it then took three months to even bother *charging* him.

            And of course we know the upstanding state of justice in the Chinese legal system...

            Dear corporate west, if you deal with the totalitarian devil you will eventually get burned.

            A lesson that should have been learned once and for all in the 1930s.

          • by Skjellifetti (561341) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @12:56AM (#30747234) Journal
            Rio Tinto is an iron ore miner that sells the ore to Chinese and Japanese steel producers. They don't make the steel themselves. An article in today's Financial Times [ft.com] claims that the big iron ore producers have frozen China out of talks on iron ore prices and are negotiating pretty much with the Japanese and then will make the Chinese steel producers a "take it or leave it" offer based on those prices.

            The decision to sideline Beijing is remarkable as China is the largest iron ore importer, accounting for more than 50 per cent of the seaborne market.

            The miners have so far held no substantive negotiations with the Chinese side, led by Baosteel, the big state-owned steel mill, according to people familiar with the talks.

            They added that there were no plans to travel to China for talks, meeting instead in Singapore.

            One executive said: "As far as I am concerned, they [the Chinese negotiators] could come over to Australia if they want to talk."

            There are some allegations making the rounds that Obama was played by the Chinese in Copenhagen [guardian.co.uk]. The mining case plus Google's actions makes me wonder if the West has decided that China has gotten too big for its britches and is being reminded that they are not a superpower yet and that they need to learn to be a little more cooperative with the rest of the world.

            India, O.K. Eastern Europe? Stay out of Russia. Guy I know had his business taken over by the Russian Mob. There is no Rule of Law in either Russia or China.

          • by Puff_Of_Hot_Air (995689) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @01:35AM (#30747480)
            The irony is that Rio Tinto is one of the very few companies that have played straight up in China. They do not bribe in China, and this has angered no small number of officials. In this instance the Australian executive that has been detained was born in China. This is China's way of instilling fear into other similiar Chinese born to not f**k with the motherland. I have to imagine that it will work.
        • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @09:27PM (#30745772)

          Can't have all the benefits of capitalism without losing some of the "benefits" of totalitarianism. You can have some of one and lots of the other (like most Western democracies), but not lots of both.

          I think Singapore would beg to differ.

        • by Dare nMc (468959) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @09:35PM (#30745832)

          "It cost us more than it's getting us."

          it probably isn't that simple. Google has to measure future value, or they may get stuck like some US based equipment manufactures did recently. IE years ago the China rules for big equipment orders (must build manufacturing in china...) was not profitable. Asian manufactures went in anyway. When china held up better, and did more stimulus money in manufacturing during this recession, the Asian manufactures were at a huge advantage with dealer networks, government contacts, China strategies... The US companies had to buy China partners to get in. Smart companies need to keep a finger on the pulse of these possibly emerging markets, if China opens up the disposable income gap could swap in a short time.

        • by coaxial (28297) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @10:41PM (#30746320) Homepage

          And this is devastating for the Chinese government. After keeping their populace docile and stupid,

          Clearly, you've never met an actual Chinese person. Do you honestly think they don't know what's going on? No, they know. They just don't care. They're lives have been massively transformed for the better. Especially for those on the coast. (The western interior is another story.) They don't want to rock the boat. Everything is going swimingly for them. Why change?

          what they want more than anything else is to be taken seriously as an economic player, sit at the big boy's table and rake in some of that fat global trade cash.

          As the world's largest exporter, and fastest growing economy, aren't they already?

          So, when one of the biggest companies around says China's market is more hassle than it's worth, it shows them up for the bumpkins that they still are.

          Yeah, but Google isn't the biggest in China. It's Baidu. Blogging? That's MSN Spaces. I've yet to meet a Chinese student that does not have an MSN Spaces account. Twitter? I'm sorry. Did you mean Plurk?

          Seriously, it's a whole other world outside the US, and you don't seem to know its players.

          But we knew this was coming (and hopefully Nixon did too). Can't have all the benefits of capitalism without losing some of the "benefits" of totalitarianism. You can have some of one and lots of the other (like most Western democracies), but not lots of both.

          Well that's the line Wall Street sold us back in 1989 while the Tianamen Square was still damp wasn't it? It's been 20 years. While some may argue the jury may still be out on that one (I wouldn't.); it's been long enough to get some indication of how its leaning, Let's examine the facts shall we?

          China's GDP growth was at 11% last quarter [dailyfinance.com], for year-over-year growth of about 8%, and just now replaced Germany as the world's leading exporter. (Funny, how does a "Socialist" European Free Market(tm) democracy be former world's largest exporter, but the US can't be? The mind reels. Oh wait. No it doesn't.) Now China is luring back [slashdot.org] it's top talent, by offering them better opportunities. Allow me to quote from that article:

          These scientists were not uniformly won over by the virtues of democracy, either. While Dr. Rao said he hoped and believed that China would become a multiparty democracy in his lifetime, Dr. Shi said he doubted that that political system “will ever be appropriate for China.”

          As a Tsinghua student, Dr. Shi joined the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. As a registered Democrat in the United States, he participated eagerly in elections. “Multiparty democracy is perfect for the United States,” he said. “But believing that multiparty democracy is right for the United States does not mean it is right for China.”

          Such is the sweet taste of liberty, eh?

          No, I believe that China has found it's third way [slate.com]. Not only "To be rich is glorious" [brainyquote.com], but "Sometimes when we [Chinese] have the faith we have to take different approaches to realize our beliefs. The ultimate goal is the common prosperity, but we have to let a group of people to get rich first." [slate.com] Or as Slate put it, "How do you say 'trickle down' in Mandarin?"

          • by guanxi (216397) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @12:04AM (#30746894)

            Clearly, you've never met an actual Chinese person. Do you honestly think they don't know what's going on? No, they know. They just don't care. They're lives have been massively transformed for the better. Especially for those on the coast. (The western interior is another story.) They don't want to rock the boat. Everything is going swimingly for them. Why change?

            As a Tsinghua student, Dr. Shi joined the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. As a registered Democrat in the United States, he participated eagerly in elections. "Multiparty democracy is perfect for the United States," he said. "But believing that multiparty democracy is right for the United States does not mean it is right for China."

            How many have you met, out of 1.2 billion, that you can speak for the Chinese people? Have you met those in prisons or those who can't get jobs because of their political beliefs? What about those who can't practice their religion? What about those who censor their beliefs so they can keep their jobs? What about those in Tibet? In Xinjiang? What about those protesting against the government all over China, because their rights are ignored and trampled by a political establishment which has no responsibility to the people (because they can't be voted out of office)? Why must the Communist Party jail democracy advocates and censor the Internet, if their people don't want it?

            Your claims repeat the Communist Party line (and quote people who risk their jobs if they disagree), which itself is the same old canard despots worldwide have used: It's a Western cultural thing, not appropriate in our culture; our people don't want it. (And if they say they do, we put them in jail.) But the facts are overwhelming: Democracy and freedom are desires and values universal to humanity. The people of South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and others, representing almost every other non-Western culture, have adopted it with great success. Only those who are forcibly repressed by their government are denied it. And all over the world, nearly 100% of the most prosperous, stable countries are democracies.

            Every democracy started out as undemocratic and unfree (including the U.S. if you count the colonial era). To say the people of China lack the motivation or ability to seize it for themselves is patronizing and insulting. They have come so far from the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, when a totalitarian dictator's incompetence and obscene disregard killed tens of millions and reduced their country to shambles, to today's relatively stable government and rocketing prosperity. There is no reason to think they will not continue and eventually enjoy the freedom and prosperity that so many others have achieved.

          • Stereotype (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @12:05AM (#30746898)

            Clearly, you've never met an actual Chinese person. Do you honestly think they don't know what's going on? No, they know. They just don't care.

            That's not entirely true. Often true, but not entirely.

            In college I worked in a research group that was probably 80% Chinese. This was in the late 90s, when Internet as means of exchanging information was somewhat new. We worked shifts together monitoring experiments, which got boring, so naturally all of us swapped stories.

            One of our research group was a Chinese visiting scholar, probably in his 40s. An American student asked him what he thought about Tienanmen. At first we thought he didn't understand what we were asking, but then it became clear - he'd never heard of this event. The government had successfully kept it from him.

            This being the internet age, we quickly brought up the pictures of the event we're all familiar with now. It was one of the most memorable, but sad, experiences of my life to watch this guy go from denial to disbelief, learning that his government had committed atrocities against its people and covered it up. I can't really express how strongly that interaction affected me.

            So unless things in China have changed drastically in the last 10 years - which is possible - China is still somewhat effective at keeping its people in the dark. And from what I experienced with our visiting scholar, there are Chinese people who care very much.

            • Re:Stereotype (Score:5, Informative)

              by interskh (1365403) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @01:13AM (#30747326)
              I am a Chinese student.

              Thanks to Internet, we Chinese ppl these days could get these information easier than before. We know about these things like Tienanmen event, etc. Well we have some places to share these information(p2p rocks, doesnt it?) As far as i know, most student in my college have knowledges of what happened those years and sometime we chat about that.

              Admittedly, there is GFW trying to block some websites. But in the age of Internet, there is really nothing that could block us from the facts.
        • by Maxmin (921568) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:56PM (#30746836)

          After keeping their populace docile and stupid...

          That's untrue. Mainland China's people aren't stupid (maybe some are ignorant, many afraid), and a few brave ones [nytimes.com] conjure up [nytimes.com] the balls [nytimes.com] to endure [nytimes.com] the inevitable beat-back [nytimes.com] that always comes when questioning authority [nytimes.com].

          A better way to characterize the effect of PRC's viciously retrograde policies against their own people might be "repressed and pwned," given the deeply fucked-up nature of the authoritarian and communist government there.

          While China's economic liberalization may leave more coin jingling in the average worker's pocket, all else remains the same. Makes me wonder if the West's political mollycoddling of PRC was ever intended to benefit their people, or if it was just to retain a cheap manufacturing source.

          There's no hardball involved. Google looks at China and goes "It cost us more than it's getting us." Pure business, with the added bonus of nice PR for being the first corp that said no to the PRC.

          Absolutely spot-on. Let us hope they follow it through to total withdrawl and contribute some loss of face for PRC's communist party. Let's not forget the near-complete blind eye turned by Western governments and the lame-stream media during the Olympics in Beijing not so long ago.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:39PM (#30745256) Homepage Journal

        I doubt that the cost in loss of goodwill exceeds potential revenue in China

        Since the average annual wage for much of China is still about $500 per year, I think the financial calculus for dealing with them might be a little more complicated that you suggest.

        Remember, even though annual disposable income in the big cities is as high as $2000 per year on average, there are one whole hell of a lot of people in China who are still dirt poor and aren't going to be buying a lot of products seen advertised on Google.

        It's going to be interesting to see how this shakes out. I suspect that the core values of the founders of Google haven't changed that much over the years, but their great success may have led them to believe that they are as likely to change a repressive society like China or Iran as those societies are to change Google.

        It still remains to be seen if their egos are right or not. Chinese society with all its complicated stratification and variety has been around a good deal longer than Google, but I've seen big and varied societies make enormous changes in a very short time during my own lifetime.

        • by Nikker (749551) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @09:26PM (#30745770)
          Having Google in China is not really about advertising as much as a political tool to the Chinese. They see the rest of the world depending on Google for relevant and accurate search results so the Chinese government gives them Google search but they obscure the results, as a result the people believe they are on equal footing with everyone else. The Chinese people aren't really stupid they know 'big brother' is watching over most of their stuff but having a large presence as Google they can feel a tie to the "Western World", little do they know ....
      • Diplomacy 101 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TiggertheMad (556308) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @09:59PM (#30746036) Homepage Journal
        Which in turn means that there might be something else at play.

        Reading some of the news coming out about hackers in China, I get the impression that there might be unofficial sanctioning or sponsorship by the government of some Chinese hacker groups.

        It also strikes me as a little off that a company announces it 'might' pull out of a country. Usually, these decisions are made internally and press conferences are called to either announce or deny that something is going to happen. If you are a company like Google, you don't openly call the government for hacking and spying. I wonder if this is Google telling the government that it won't put up with their shit?
      • by darc (532156) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @10:00PM (#30746052) Journal

        According to the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/13/world/asia/13beijing.html):

        Google did not publicly link the Chinese government to the cyber attack, but people with knowledge of Google’s investigation said they had enough evidence to justify its actions.

        So I think it's a matter of the Chinese government seeking to uncover the identities of human rights activists by actively attacking Google's and other people's corporate network.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I love and use Google's products, and am strongly against China's censorship, but if China backs down to Google on this I feel like I should be more frightened than elated.
    • Forget reputations. The big question here is if there's money to be made in China at all.

      Over the last 10 years, there has been a roaring trade between the west and China. Ordinarily, this would be a great thing, but so far trade has been completely one sided. The fact is, the west has very little that the Chinese actually want to buy, or cannot manufacture themselves. Individual companies have been making short term gains by relocating their businesses to China; but in the long term, Chinese competitors (generally state subsidised) quickly emerge and dominate the local market and then the export market. For short term gain, western companies essentially write their own death warrants.

      Google has gone into China. It has gotten nowhere. It's not the only company to see this happen. This big market, a fifth or the worlds population, turns out not to actually be worth the effort in most cases. Not only do you have to put up with the nineteenth century nonsense perpetuated by the communist party, you have to accept the fact that local competitors can and will eat you alive, either with state assistance, ruthless exploitation of labour, or by flat out ignoring the IP rules you hold so dear. Tell me the Western company that is making money in China itself. Making the kind of money that's going to help pay the balance of trade deficit that has emerged from the amount of money Chinese exporters have made in the last 10 years. Name me one.

      China isn't worth it. At least not now. Come back in 30 years when the country has some human rights, democratic government and respect for trade laws. Then you can do, what is commonly called, business. There'll probably be a lot more money in people's pockets by that time too. Right now the whole country is a shell game you can never win, no matter how much you think the rules have to be the same. There's no point talking about gaining first mover advantage in a country where people can't even change jobs without a bloody chit. Not for the vast majority of companies.

      Maybe Google will finally come to realise this. People may think its signals their return to the light side of the force. Personally, I'm inclined to think Google simply has a most ironic stance towards the personal data to compiles on the world population, jealously guarding it from all comers. Either way, Google leaving China will end up being a net positive for the company, its users, and the balance of trade deficit. The Chinese might lose a few search results, but frankly, that's the bed they've made for themselves right now.

      • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @09:42PM (#30745902) Journal

        Either way, Google leaving China will end up being a net positive for the company, its users, and the balance of trade deficit.

        There's more to it than that. It would set a precedent. It would be something that make CEOs and boards of other companies wonder if they should at least review their strategy in China, and hopefully follow suit.

        It would also get a lot of news coverage. Google is very well-known, enough so that a story like that would likely be run by all major Western TV channels, newspapers etc. This would be some awesome propaganda.

  • Excellent idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MindPrison (864299) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:03PM (#30744848) Journal

    Why wait?

  • I say pull out... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Geldon (444090) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:05PM (#30744868)

    Google has been skirting the edge of their "don't be evil" policy with China since the start. If you have to censor your search results, it's not worth the trouble.

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:11PM (#30744920) Journal

      Maybe it's finally struck them that getting into a market under the claim that somehow censored search results will set people free was completely absurd.

    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:15PM (#30744976) Journal

      Especially since they've determined the target of the attacks were the gmail accounts of human rights activists.

      Doesn't it seem just a LITTLE odd that the Chinese government would want this information, Google knows someone wants this information, and the attack originated in China?

      I don't blame them for threatening to pull out, its likely that whoever attacked Google was on some form of Chinese government payroll. Over or under the table.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by yuhong (1378501)
        Indeed, if it is indeed true that the Chinese government was so desperate as to going such pains as hacking Google servers to get this info, I am sure it will say a lot about them.
    • by bcmm (768152) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:19PM (#30745022)
      Having the search engine available, and notifying people that results have been removed, is probably better than simply not making it available, leaving people using engines which don't tell them when stuff has been censored. They've also done much better than others such as Yahoo!, who keep data in China and actively help the authorities track down dissidents.
  • What's the impact? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hawkeye_82 (845771) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:06PM (#30744876) Journal

    I honestly want to know.

    What would the impact of Google pulling out of China mean to citizens? How popular was Google, compared to Baidu, Bing, Yahoo, etc. in the Chinese web search space?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:11PM (#30744930)

      Google controls ~25% of the search traffic in China. Not the monolith they are in Europe or the U.S. but enough that everyone in China would know the government was blocking Google. On the other hand they are currently running a major crackdown on internet porn and could potentially try to use that (and google's "refusal to help protect Chinese children from western vice) as an excuse.

    • by rgo (986711) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:16PM (#30744980)
      While the impact for chinese people could not be that large, the impact for Google is huge. It is a really ballsy move from them to risk losing the enormous chinese market.
      • Is it? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:59PM (#30745462) Journal

        Google had a great reputation with its "Do no evil" motto. And then they went into China and they lost it.

        What is worth more to google. A great reputation in the west and no business in China, or a sullied reputation in the west and lousy business in China that may be cut off any day when the government chances its mind? You seem to assume like many others that doing business in China is easy, just follow the rules and you make a profit. But that is not the case. You IP is an open target, the government can change the rules whenever it wants and the local competition is heavily entwined with the state.

        That makes for a difficult operating environment. It is indeed a brave move by Google to go against the Wall Street mentality of "a penny today" but long term it might be the wisest move they ever make. At least they are sending a signal that there are limits. It seems that at the end of the crisis, something might be changing. Even the US seems to be considering to tax banks... unthinkable in the past. New firms are starting up that claim they will things different and now google being the first to question the Wall Street wisdom that doing business in China is worth everything.

        And as for enormous. China only passed Germany this year in exports. The market really ain't all that large. Large parts of it are dirt poor and the rest works for pennies. India is equal in population size and a lot more open. You don't see everyone bending over backwards for India do you? Wall Street loves China, no meddling human rights to upset things, simple rules. But Wall Street has shown it doesn't know shit.

        I am frankly surprised at reading this story. Either we soon will get an update that this guy was fired or Google is very serious about this. Because somewhere in China, someone just fainted. The Chinese government does NOT want google to just disappear because of its actions, the average Chinese person doesn't really believe that censorship affects him/her personally. It is just for troublemakers. When google goes (and with that youtube etc etc) it will be noticed far more clearly then some dissident being locked up.

        Who knew, Google might actually life up to its motto "Do no evil". Wonder what other companies will do... If Google follows-up on this, MS apologists lost a major piece of ammunition.

        • Re:Is it? (Score:5, Informative)

          by sych (526355) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @10:19PM (#30746158)

          When google goes (and with that youtube etc etc) it will be noticed far more clearly then some dissident being locked up.

          I don't know that Google will be missed as much as you think it will be, and foreign websites disappearing from the Chinese internet is a regular enough occurrence that it hardly rates a mention anymore.

          YouTube has been gone (blocked) for a year+ now. Same with Facebook, which was blocked just as it was achieving some popularity in China.The average Chinese person doesn't use Google, YouTube or Facebook. They use the local versions: Baidu, Youku and Kaixinwang.

          That said, I would prefer to see Google stay in China, even with a little bit of censorship. The Chinese internet is already so disconnected from the internet that we know, but having a player like Google is at least a small bridge over the divide.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @09:15PM (#30745648)

        Actually it could be large to China. Not so much in and of itself, but what it overall represents. China's policies risk creating a situation where there is the "China Internet" and the "Real Internet." That is going to be problematic for business. If China is all home grown, censorship based systems that are in use there and nowhere else, it'll make it a lot harder to do business in the world.

        Also, it can cause loss of face and legitimacy for them. Remember that China is not like North Korea, their populace kept all at home, ignorant of the rest of the world. The Chinese travel a lot, they study and work in other countries. In the department I work for on campus we have tons of Chinese grad students. If it turns out that the Internet is totally different in China than the rest of the world, that China won't let you see most of what is out there, well then these people are going to start asking why.

        When the censorship is more low key, more invisible, things like the Chinese Google just having different search results on things, it isn't the kind of thing many will notice. After all Google localizes results everywhere, that certain ones are omitted in China is harder to notice if you aren't looking for it. However if it is a situation where they discover that these services everyone else uses are available AT ALL in China, then they start to wonder why.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mr_lizard13 (882373)
        They're feeling lucky.
  • by RDW (41497) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:06PM (#30744878)

    My guess: Google stops censoring itself, gaining credibility for its belatedly 'principled' stand against the Chinese government, while sending a message to China that hacking its servers is Not Polite. China predictably steps in to filter the search results using its own mechanisms, relieving Google of the burden. Google gets to keep its advertising revenue, while the users behind the Great Firewall get (at best) the same censorship as before. Now if Google really wants to make a point, with a genuine and serious risk of losing business, how about making google.cn an exclusively SSL site and seeing how fast China blocks it..?

  • by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:09PM (#30744910)
    I mean, we wouldn't want to impregnate China, would we?
  • Google, FTW!!! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:10PM (#30744912)

    This is as close to "do no evil" as they have come in years. Way to grow some balls Google!

  • by clampolo (1159617) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:12PM (#30744946)

    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.

    Oh so now they are going to discuss censorship with the Chinese. And they didn't decide to do this before? And it never occurred to them that the intelligence agencies of foreign governments would spy on them?

    This all smells of some PR stunt. After investing billions in China and bending over violently for commie murderers, they still got their asses handed to them by Baidu. This is their way of pulling out of a losing market while looking like good guys.

    • by abulafia (7826) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:27PM (#30745124)

      Call it PR, or negotiation, or leverage. Fundamentally, it is the same thing at the scale Google is talking about.

      Google wants something, and thinks that now is the time to discuss it. I would guess there is more going on than just this hackery. It may well be that what they want is to close down, but I can't imagine, even if they do, that that's the whole of it - they don't seem the sort of company to simply give up on such a huge market in their core markets simply because Baidu out-"competed" them (for values of competition that do include government-level lobbying).

    • by Psyborgue (699890) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:50PM (#30745364) Homepage Journal
      You left off the rest of the quote:

      ...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.

      It could be a PR stunt, but my feeling is that if they were just going to "discuss" it with the chinese they would have kept it behind closed doors. This sounds more like an ultimatum made publicly, and if you say something like that publicly you have to follow through or risk looking like a liar and a hypocrite. Could there be an ulterior motive? Sure. This move will make them very popular outside of China. People like to be on the side of "good" and if a company is seen as sticking up for the oppressed, I can see a lot of people buying their services and products in order to show their support and gratitude.

    • by dapyx (665882) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:57PM (#30745442) Homepage
      They entered the Chinese market in 2006, and, in less than four years, they reached to have 26% of the Chinese market, which, you should remember, is bigger (in numbers) than the US market.

      I don't think it's fair to say they were beaten by Baidu.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:12PM (#30744950) Homepage
    The lesson is simple: Work with evil and evil will still screw you over. It took Google wrong enough to realize this. There's a real temptation to Godwin this with a comparison to Neville Chamberlain. But the result is clear: Google tried to cooperate with China in hope that some good with come of a compromise policy. The end result is that the Chinese still tried to infiltrate Google to serve its censorious, abusive ends.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098)

      Yes. In hindsight, this is all very clear. However, there is a benefit to giving the benefit of the doubt early on: you are positively certain that you did what could be done, and the only option left is stop negotiating amicably. Google now can point to past behavior and say: You're not holding up your end of the bargain. We did. Until we see some change from you, we will ignore your requests. This is a fairly significant position change in negotiations, as you're basically saying that the other party lost

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:14PM (#30744972) Homepage

    I don't know how much of my comment history is available at present, but it doesn't seem that long ago that I was commenting that Google is not to be trusted because they are a corporation and they are all about advertising revenue. The fact that they have capitulated to China in the past was reaffirming to my perspective.

    But if this story plays out and Google pulls out of China based on the Chinese government's persecution of descenters, opposition and critics, then I have to say that Goggle will actually start changing my mind about them after all. And I have to say, just like many others, changing my mind about something is not particularly easy to do -- but if they do this, I will be PLEASANTLY surprised.

    In addition to that, any U.S. company that fails to take a similar approach to dealing with China is simply without balls by comparison.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I agree. I have felt for quite some time that while Google is not "evil", they are a corporation and are not to be trusted. However, this action sheds a new light on Google. Google was willing to compromise with China and censor their results. However, Google considers that people's email accounts are not to be accessed by those not authorized to do so. It is clear to me from Google's reaction to the hacking of dissenters' email accounts that Google believes this was the act of the Chinese government and i
  • does a US company do business with regimes with poor human rights records?

    specifically, does an internet company help such a government with restrictions on freedoms?

    what if the company's motto is "don't be evil"?

    score one for human rights

    and score one for google's integrity

    today is a good day

  • Freedom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EEPROMS (889169) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:17PM (#30744998)
    You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free.

    Clarence Darrow
    • careful (Score:3, Insightful)

      all the moral relativists will be saying you can't possibly be trying to extend american style rights and freedoms to china. that you have no right to do that and (my favorite part): trying to extend liberties in countries outside the usa is imperialism (!?)

      <sarcasm>
      you westerners can't possibly judge china because it has a complex history and culture you will never fully understand. you should be sensitive to interesting cultural differences that makes the world an exciting place, like: the chinese e

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:18PM (#30745006)

    Translation: "We were cool with doing business with you, even effacing our own corporate values, because your country is a lucrative market. But it wasn't enough for us to be cooperative -- you got in our servers and messed with our stuff. And you know what -- that'll cost us more in our reputation and business costs than you're worth, so goodbye."

    • by christoofar (451967) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:09PM (#30746524)

      That sentence still has 40% marketease in it.

      Here's the Texas-Bubba version:

      "We done come over there with our 'quipment and y'alls fucked it up royally and y'all are goin' through allour files. Jesus H. Christ y'all are so batshit I can't see straight. I ain't made dollar to donuts in this place. I'm gonna call Aunt Ethel to see if we can't move back in with the in-laws over in Taiwan."

  • by deadhammer (576762) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:34PM (#30745210)
    ...I'd have pegged the Yes Men all over this story. As it stands, this may be a cynical business move, or this may be Google finally realizing just who they've been in bed with this whole time, but either way's a win.
  • by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <nicoaltiva@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:42PM (#30745288) Journal

    I want to be able to know which addresses have connected to my account, or, more importantly, who *tried* to access it. The information is there. Why not show it? It would allow one to immediately find out someone's trying to break in.

  • by Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:44PM (#30745296)
    "Screw you guys, I'm going home."
  • sounds like a plan (Score:4, Insightful)

    by glebovitz (202712) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @09:00PM (#30745472) Journal

    I'm ready to stop buying Chinese, if possible. I've already stopped buying products manufactured in China if they are for my daughter. Anyone want to start on-shore manufacturing? Seems like German toys and French health products are the only alternative.

    • by Angst Badger (8636) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @10:07PM (#30746092)

      I'm ready to stop buying Chinese, if possible.

      It's not, unless you want to become Amish, and maybe not even then. You'll certainly not be buying any electronics without Chinese-made components.

      In any case, boycotts and embargoes mainly harm the little guy who, in a non-democratic society, doesn't get any say in the way things are done. The average Chinese will be thinking about eating his in-laws before any member of the Politburo goes without caviar.

      What we should be doing is tying our import tariffs to improvements in Chinese human rights and progress towards democracy instead of blithely rubber-stamping their most favored nation status and pretending that capitalism automatically produces democracy -- which idea always was a load of shit, considering that capitalism was pioneered by monarchies. Democracy tends to produce capitalism, true, but the reverse is not even remotely the case.

  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @09:16PM (#30745660)

    All of it's Chinese offices to Taiwan. That will really piss off China. And Taiwan is *much* friendlier than China.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @10:39PM (#30746302)

    Step #1: Visit www.baidu.com.
    Step #2: Search for Google or blogspot.com. Note that both work.
    Step #3: Now search for google.blogspot.com.
    Step #4: Enjoy your Baidu lockout. You should be able to search again in 5-10 minutes, I haven't timed the duration exactly.

  • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:20PM (#30746594) Homepage

    It is to Google's credit that they finally figured out the truth about China.

    Of course, even truthier is the fact that China wants them gone anyhow, since they'd prefer to build their own little world inside their own little internet.

  • Double standards ? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:45PM (#30746774)

    Google appears to be a proud protector of the gmail accounts of China's Human Rights activists, when it says that "Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.".

    Is this the same Google which Hands over IP addresses of activists to Indian Police [techgoss.com] ?

    What about Google Sets Censorship Precedent In India [slashdot.org] ?

    Mumbai Cyber Sleuths are a law unto themselves, ordering Americans around: Mumbai Police Order American to delete Cartoon [chillingeffects.org]

    Why does Google co-operate so tamely with Mumbai Cyber police ? Why did Google hand over IPs in 2007 [nartv.org] entangling an innocent man in the Police web ?

    And yet talk of Human Rights in China ? Don't the Indians have Human Rights too ?

  • by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerte@nOsPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @12:33AM (#30747064)

    It was surely an inside job. Google needs employees in China to manage the operations there. Even if you keep them under control, or if you send trusted employees from overseas, it's a huge hazard. The government in China has a really tight control of the population, and everyone is afraid of the government. I'm pretty sure it was easy for an insider to leak information, and I'm also pretty sure that the government isn't just buying the "yes, we will comply with your filter" response from Google, and is not only constantly monitoring search results, but also getting inside information about how things are being handled.

    If you don't make a huge profit out of China, the rest of the world complains about the censorship you agreed to apply at search results, and you are risking trade secrets and being harassed, then the Chinese market isn't so interesting anymore.

    If I were in Google's situation, I would gladly let those 300 millions a year go, and just leave China.

We are not a loved organization, but we are a respected one. -- John Fisher

Working...