Beijing, Jan. 13 (ANI): The world's leading search engine, Google, has said it is no longer willing to censor search results on its Chinese service.
The Internet giant said the decision followed a cyber attack it believes was aimed at gathering information on Chinese human rights activists.
The move follows a clampdown on the Internet in China over the last year, which has seen sites and social networking services hosted overseas blocked - including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube - and the closure of many sites at home. Chinese authorities criticised Google for supplying "vulgar" content in results, reports The Guardian.
Google acknowledged the decision "may well mean" the closure of Google.cn and its offices in China.
Google was in contact with the US State Department before its announcement.
Spokesman PJ Crowley said: "Every nation has an obligation, regardless of the origin of malicious cyber activities, to keep its part of the network secure. That includes China. Every nation should criminalise malicious activities on computer networks."
In a post on the official Google Blog, the company outlined a "highly sophisticated and targeted" attack in December, which it believes affected at least 20 other firms:
"These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered, combined with the 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," the statement from Google said.
"We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, 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," it added.
Human Rights Watch praised the decision and urged other firms to follow suit in challenging censorship. (ANI)