Google, the world’s top search engine, said it might shut its Chinese-language google.cn website after China-based cyber attacks on dissidents using its Gmail service. “We discovered that Google had been the target and that the hackers were accessing gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists,” said Echikson, senior manager of communications for google. Chinese activists have long complained that China’s Communist Party has tightened its grip on the Internet, stifling the spread of information and ideas in the name of public safety and morals. Their complaints have now been echoed by the world’s biggest Internet firm and by Washington, where Hillary Clinton said the Chinese government should explain the attacks.
“The surprise isn’t the hacking or censorship. That’s everywhere here,” said Liu Ning, a writer and blogger in Beijing. “The surprise is such a big company breaking the silence about all these problems … Until now, they’ve kept quiet.”
Chinese artists and human rights activist Ai Weiwei says he welcomes Google’s announcement:
“China uses a lot of tools to target dissidents, and tries to break into their private thoughts and actions … By doing this today, Google, at the very least, has expressed the opinion of a lot of people in the society on this kind of behavior and, of course, this will influence not just China, but the whole world. The discussion on the right to privacy, personal freedom of speech, and tolerance of expression, I think, is extremely important,” Ai says.
Reuters / Radio free europe