In what will surely be remembered as a pivotal and defining moment in Internet history, Google today took a brave stand against China which has so far dictated how Google conducts business in that country.
In a post on their blog titled “A New Approach To China”, Google stated that it had detected an unprecedented and highly sophisticated attack by Chinese hackers last month on its corporate infrastructure, and on 20 other corporate entities. The hacking has resulted in theft of some of Google’s Intellectual Property. Google has also determined that the hackers were primarily targeting the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Possibly there was much more – since Google has only shared some of the information from these attacks. In any case, the attacks appeared to be the tipping point for Google in revising their stance on China.
Effectively this is what Google is saying to China in their announcement : “We are not going to succumb to your censorship policies any more and enough is enough : So take it or leave it – we will either run an uncensored search engine in China on our terms OR just cease operations there ! “
Putting an economic juggernaut and the next superpower on notice in no uncertain terms on a matter of principle requires tremendous guts and vision. It has never been done, as far as I know, by any large US corporation (or even by the US Govt for that matter !) . If ever there was a moment in Google’s decade old history which demonstrated their resolve and the true intent of their corporate motto “Don’t do evil” – this has to be it ! Google deserves the utmost respect and accolades from everybody for this brave stance. I only wish they had done it sooner in 2006 when they launched Google.cn. Succumbing to the unreasonable demands of a communist regime that censors free speech, oppresses its citizens, routinely violates human rights and then denies all wrongdoing, goes against everything that Google, and the rest of the free world believes in. It is about time someone stood up to them and I am glad Google had the clarity of conviction and the guts to do this. More power to them and may this be the start of a worldwide movement that puts pressure on the Chinese Government to revise their policies.
There is another important aspect to this announcement : If a $200 billion behemoth like Google, run by some of the smartest engineers and security experts in the world can be breached by hackers in China, it should be a wake-up call to the rest of the world on the seriousness of the dire threat that hacking in general and China in particular poses.
Incidentally this attack occurs after several years of under-reported warnings in the press about this threat from China. The country has secretly been building an army of Chinese hackers on a remote island off the coast of China – with the explicit goal of “electronic world domination” by 2050. I had blogged about this threat back in April – which you can read here.