In a stunning about-face, Google announced it would no longer censor search results in China, and if the Chinese government balks, Google says it may take its servers and go home.
The change in Google's policy toward doing business in China came after Google discovered that it and other companies were the victims of a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack" aimed at gathering information about human rights activists. It is not clear whether the Chinese government was behind the attacks, which Google said in a blog post were also directed against other U.S. companies.
Google has always been a company with a moral pulse, one that in its early days attracted a certain sort of idealistic engineer who truly believed the world could be made a better place by a responsible corporation that efficiently spread information and technology around the world. Yet Google is also one of America's largest and richest public companies, and obsessed with growing even larger.
The collision of those two forces led Google into what the company founders may eventually come to consider as its worst decision: to self-censor search results in China for almost four years in hopes of improving overall access to information.
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