According to the BBC, Internet giant Google has said it may end its operations in China following a “sophisticated and targeted” cyber attack originating from the country. It did not accuse Beijing directly, but said it was no longer willing to censor its Chinese search engine – google.cn. This could result in closing the site, and its Chinese offices, Google said. Google also said the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists were the primary target of the attack, which occurred in December. The search engine has now said it will hold talks with the government to look at operating an unfiltered search engine, though no changes to filtering had yet been made. Google launched google.cn in 2006, agreeing to some censorship of the search results, as required by the Chinese government. It said it had also discovered that the accounts of dozens of US, China and Europe-based Gmail users, who are “advocates of human rights in China”, appeared to have been “routinely accessed by third parties”. Foreign firms accept China’s difficult commercial conditions, the tough competition, government interference or censorship because the prize is worth it. Nearly 340 million Chinese people are now online, compared with 10 million only a decade ago.

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