Google is attempting to prove a point to the Chinese government, but some believe its stance comes with a hefty price tag. Google recently moved its search services, Google News and Google Images from Google.cn to Google.com.hk in an effort to make a point to the government in China.
The bold move by Google in late March came after it and 20 other businesses were victims of a China-based cyberattack. Google's bold move was also made to show China's government that it does not agree with censoring Internet searches.
After investigating the cyberattacks on U.S. businesses, Google found evidence that suggested that Gmail accounts of dozens of human-rights activists with a relationship to China were being accessed by third parties via the use of malware.
While Google took a huge step forward against censorship, it may have also put the company at risk of losing business in the form of ad revenue and customers -- and may have put heat on its China-based executives.
Google's web-search service continues to remain unblocked by China's government, but there is nothing that prevents China from censoring and blocking the new service in the future. If it does, Google may be negatively affected.
"Given that our service is entirely legal, we very much hope that the Chinese government will not block Google.com.hk," said Jay Nancarrow, a Google spokesperson. "As we made clear in our blog post, we intend to continue research and development work in China and also to maintain a sales presence there, though the size of the sales team will obviously be partially dependent on the ability of mainland Chinese users to access Google.com.hk."
Aside from potentially being blocked by the government, Google is also at risk of losing Internet users to China's own Internet search service Baidu.
Because of the heavy load on Google's servers in Hong Kong, there will be a slowdown in service, and some Google services will be temporarily inaccessible, according to the company.
A service slowdown may push users to Baidu and other search services and may result in the loss of ad revenue. Google, however, said it is not worried about losing any ad revenue because of the switch, as advertisements for politically focused content are not commonly requested.
As of Thursday, Google's YouTube, Google Sites and Blogger services remained blocked, while Google's Docs, Picasa, Groups and mobile services were partially blocked.
Google's move also came with a risk of repercussion to its employees in China.
In an effort to take the heat off its employees in China, Google made it clear that its decision was made by executives in the U.S. and stated that none of its employees in China should be held responsible.
Posted: 2010-04-07 @ 12:17am PT
Mainland China should really reconsider its censoring policies. Thank goodness we still have Hong Kong... but in about 37 years HK might be fully transformed and assimilated into the mainland. Hopefully China would be more free by then! You have my support Google!
Posted: 2010-04-05 @ 3:26pm PT
China doesn't want Google anymore! Don't beg and drag. The internet is much faster and growth much stronger in China right now. I think Google should take all the service out from China if they are serious to move out from China. RIGHT?
Posted: 2010-04-04 @ 7:51am PT
What is there to calculate now? Google thinks that China owes Google a living. If I were to govern China, I would punish all things Google. FYI, I am not even from China.
Posted: 2010-04-03 @ 11:24am PT
No doubt that it IS risky for Google, but they're making an important point and deserve to be supported and celebrated by the wider internet community.
The freedom of the internet is under threat constantly, from totalitarian, authoritarian, and just plain bureaucratic-interventionist governments. Here in Canada, our "CanCon" culture mavens are threatening to apply their stupid Canadian-culture-first policy to the internet. What incredible stupidity!
In China, the authoritarian state is much worse, in terms of human rights. What they've done to the poor Falun Dafa folks is a terrible atrocity, along with Tibet and other minorities.
So, carry on Google - you have MY vote and MY business as an ethical AND profit-driven company that really is trying to "not be evil"!