Google threatens to withdraw its service from mainland China

13 Mar

In 2010, search engine Google threatened to close its service in China, after having accused the Chinese authorities of hacking its email system and customer accounts. They have also said that they are no longer willing to censor search results on, after the government refused to relax their laws on censorship.

Google’s chief legal officer stated “we have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on”, which they realize could lead to the end of its business in China, and seeing as the country has the largest number of internet users worldwide, this could mean a massive loss for Google, however this does not seem to be an influence in their decision. A professor at the University of Hong Kong expressed her opinion that the move “certainly sets an example in terms of a company trying to do what’s best for the user”.

However, unsurprisingly this decision has provoked anger within China, who has expressed its fury over Google’s attempts to make the Chinese government change their rules on censorship. One internet specialist pointed out “any company entering China should abide by Chinese laws. Google operates under its own laws”. When Google began providing its Chinese service in 2006 they were aware that they would have to censor search results, therefore China is claiming that the company has broken a “written promise”.


3 Responses to “Google threatens to withdraw its service from mainland China”

  1. pcm1c12 March 14, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    I am not in favour of the Chinese Great Wall, but in a certain way I do agree with some concerns of Chinese authorities about google. The fact that google makes demands on Chinese politics might be a concern. There are also rumours that google is becoming too powerful. Google has great influence on the internet, it covers almost 70% of the search engine market and China claims it also gets too much power in the country’s smart phone market via its android mobile operating system.

    Through google search, google collects information about people and creates a profile of you with all your search search terms, which gets linked to your ip-adress. As quoted by Bill Thompson:

    “Google probably knew when you last thought you were pregnant, what diseases your children have had, and who your divorce lawyer is”

    Google is not clear about the reasons and its goals of collection this information, but just the fact they have this information gives them a lot of power. And I do have some concerns regarding this power of google.


  2. cjf3g11 March 18, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    Google has been depicted as a model company that stands up to the Chinese government and upholds its famous motto “Don’t be evil”. This impression reached a climax in May 2012 when Google introduced a new warning message aimed at users in China. Typing one of the many keywords blocked by the Great Firewall, this message would inform the user that continuing the search would probably break the user’s connection. It was a bold step towards exposing the censorship that the authorities desperately try to hide. At the time, Foreign Policy asked whether in this “second clash between the Internet search giant and the Chinese government, will freedom of speech win?”

    However, Sometime between December 5 and December 8 2012, Google made a surprising decision. They decided to remove the feature. At the same time, they deleted the help article which explained how to use the feature. This indicates a new development in the relationship between the Chinese government and Google. Since Google moved its search engine to Hong Kong in 2010, censorship of its services were out of control of Google. This latest move however was fully controlled by Google and can therefore only be described as self-censorship. This raises the question as to whether Google has bowed down to Chinese government censorship?

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