Press freedom campaign group Reporters Without Borders has hailed Google’s announcement that it will stop censoring the Chinese version of its search engine, Google.cn – a move that could lead to its closure and Google’s withdrawal from the Chinese market.
The company said it took the decision following sophisticated cyber-attacks on Gmail accounts coming from China against human rights activists.
“We can only welcome the courage shown by Google’s executives,” Reporters Without Borders said. “A foreign IT company has finally accepted its responsibilities towards Chinese users and is standing up to the Chinese authorities, who keep clamping down more and more on the Internet.
“In the face of repeated and increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks and humiliating treatment by the Chinese authorities, who accuse them of not doing enough to block sensitive information, Google has decided to take a tougher line and is setting its own conditions for continuing to operate in China.
“We call on other IT companies to form a common front and we urge the Chinese authorities to reconsider their position. Google seems to have opened a breach – the cooperation of western companies in the control of news and information is no longer systematic.”
Google’s move follows attacks launched from China on the Gmail accounts of several dozen human rights activists. Reporters Without Borders says it has been the target of cyber-attacks from China.
China, which is on the list of countries identified by Reporters Without Borders as “Enemies of the Internet,” has for years had the world’s most sophisticated system of online censorship and surveillance. It is also the world’s biggest prison for "netizens", with a total of 66 bloggers and cyberdissidents detained.
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