Google threatens to abandon China market after hack attacks

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Mountain View, Calif.—Google Inc. is ending self-censorship of its Chinese-based search engine and threatening to pull out of the China market entirely following cyber attacks the company said were aimed at censoring search queries and human rights activities.

Google said Tuesday that the hacks were made against its Chinese-language search engine and Gmail accounts, as well as toward many other foreign companies operating in China. Adobe Systems confirmed that its China operation also was the target of cyber attacks.

Google currently commands 36% of the search market in China, behind Chinese competitor Baidu's 58% market share.

When Google entered the Chinese market in 2006, it agreed to self-censor search query results according to local laws, while notifying users.

The Chinese government has not yet responded to Google's statement.

David Drummond, Google's senior VP-corporate development and chief legal officer, stated on the company's official blog late Tuesday that the company is “no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, 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."

Drummond added: “We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China.”

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