Big news from the official Google blog:
In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident--albeit a significant one--was something quite different.First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses--including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors--have been similarly targeted.... Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.Basically Google is implying that the Chinese government has been attacking (or coercing others to attack) the company's infrastructure as a way of getting to Chinese human rights activists. And that's the last straw.
These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. 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. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.Holy crap. There's no way China will accept uncensored search results from Google.cn. So it looks really likely that Google will shut down its search service in China.This won't have any appreciable effect on China. They'll just go on censoring the web. Google, for its part, will be walking away from a huge market but preserving the credibility of their "Do No Evil" pledge. For a while there it looked like Google was okay "being complicit in acts of evil" or "doing some evil below a certain threshold if the money's there." It's inspiring to see them throw down the gauntlet this way. The entire post is worth a read.Check the Google.cn image results for "Tiananmen square." You can see the curtains being pulled aside already.