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By 13 January 2010 | Categories: news

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Google will be radically changing its China policy after a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack”, originating from that region, resulted in intellectual property being stolen and left human rights activists’ accounts hacked. According to the official Google Blog the company came under fire in mid-December in what at first appeared to be a major attack on their corporate infrastructure.

Although this attack lead to intellectual property being stolen, Google claims that this wasn’t the primary goal of the intrusion. Rather the hackers had their sights set on the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Ongoing investigations from Google revealed that only two Gmail accounts appear to have been hacked, with access limited to account information, for example the date the account was created, and subject line. The content of these emails were not accessed.

This attack seems to be the final straw for Google regarding their China business. David Drummond, Google’s corporate development and chief legal officer, said: “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.” As a first step Google says that they will no longer censor search results in China, a move which they admit might result in the discontinuation of the Google.cn service and the closing down of their China offices.

The attack is of such severity that it lead the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton to comment, According to the BBC ,that Google's allegations "raise very serious concerns and questions" and that the US was seeking an explanation from China.

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