Google to leave China?

Posted on January 16, 2010. Filed under: Freedom of information, Google, media |

Google’s recent threat to withdraw from China over the alleged hacking of human rights activists’ emails raises many questions about the role of the search engine giant in the free flow of information.

The company was accused of abandoning it’s ethical ethos in 2006 when it agreed to operate a censored service in China. However it did state it would reassess its policy if it couldn’t meet its objectives¬† of broadening the freedom of information for Chinese citizens:

“We will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services,” it said.

If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China.”

Google now states it will not continue to operate a censored service in China, and if it cannot operate an uncensored service, it will withdraw its business.

Is this proof of the company’s commitment to the freedom of speech or part of a wider business plan?

Where will Google’s withdrawal leave its Chinese users, and what will it mean for the future of information accessibility in China?

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