In a shocking announcement, Google said that it may consider shutting down its operations in China.
Google reported that several of its gmail accounts belonging to Chinese human rights activists were compromised this week, leading company officials to reconsider its business model in China. Analysts believe that the attacks were made from within China's government, but no confirmation was given. Google officials did not disclose whether or not Google believed affected Gmail accounts were attacked by the China's government.
The search giant, along with many others, have long been under scrutiny by Beijing officials. In China, there is no such thing as freedom of search. China monitors and censors topics that it deems inappropriate for its citizens. Subject matter such as those that do not follow the Chinese government's political stance, or of pornographic nature, are blocked from access.
"We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China," said Google's Chief Legal Officer David Drummond.
"These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the Web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China."
It remains to be seen whether or not Google will take such actions, but according to analysts, it could be possible.
Up until this point, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others, have all complied with China's demands. Censorship is a very hot topic for China, and while many companies and groups have spoken out against China's restrictions on its users, government officials remain firm that censoring is the best course of action for its people.
Google.cn generates roughly $1 billion for Google.