Google mulls pulling out of China

Google said it will stop self-censoring search results delivered to users in China. The firm said the decision follows the discovery of a hacking attack on the Gmail accounts of human rights activists in the territory.

The decision could lead to the company quitting the Populous Republic atogether.

The attack allowed hackers to gain access to two Gmail accounts but was part of a wider campaign against at least 20 other companies, the search giant said.

In a statement on a company blog page, Google's chief legal officer, David Drummond, said that as part of its investigation the firm "discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users' computers."

Google went into China in 2006 and kowtowed to the authorities by agreeing to censor its search results in the territory. Now, although the company stops short of saying so, it seems it think the authorities may be behind the hacking and phishing attempts.

Its appeasement policy appears to have turned round and bitten it in the Aris.

It said it had evidence of a "sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China".