"It is better to return back than to get lost in the way."
After the sophisticated attacks against Google in China, the search engine threatens to leave the country, if they don’t manage to negotiate a legal unfiltered search engine.
The attacks took place halfway through December, with the objective of accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, as well as the theft of intellectual property from Google.
The attacks were not directed only to Google, as they also affected 34 companies, most of them in Silicon Valley, California.
As a consequence of the attacks, Google has published cyber-security recommendations in order help Gmail users to protect their computers and mobile devices.
On the other hand, an unidentified spokesman for China's Ministry of Industry denied any involvement in the cyberattacks, but insisted that all foreign companies operating in China must respect Chinese law.
The possible departure of Google from China has provoked a deep controversy all around the world, evoking countless reactions.
Immediately after the attacks, Google’s shares fell 1,5% in the New York Stock Market, while Baidu’s shares rose 11%. Baidu is China´s most popular search engine.
The next consequence of the attacks was the delay of the launch in China of two mobile phones with Google´s Android mobile operating system, developed in cooperation with Samsung and Motorola.
Furthermore, Google is investigating whether the attacks were supported by his Chinese staff. Therefore, the 13th January some of the employees couldn’t access their usual work space, while other employees were moved to another office.
On the other hand, the 21st January Hilary Clinton, US Secretary of State, came out in defence of Google, criticizing harshly China’s censorship.
A few days after, a new search engine called Goojjle appeared, imploring Google not to leave China. Goojjle is apparently a Chinese imitation of Google, with the only difference that the logo includes a footprint, just like Baidu’s logo.
Goojjle's logo (left) and Baidu's logo (right) are definitely very similar
Goojjle is a funny play on words in Chinese, as Google in Chinese means brother and Goojjle means sister.
Even though Goojjle’s origin is a mystery, it is obvious that it intends to be an answer to Google’s threat to quit China. In this regard, an eloquent promotional video tells a story about a deaf young girl who wants to learn to play the violin, although nobody believes she will be able to do it.
A few weeks later, in the World Economic Forum in Davos, China demanded the participants not to discuss that subject.
Actually, Google and the US National Security Agency are finalizing an agreement to work together in order to investigate the attacks, and to prevent future attacks.
Google is present in China since 2006. From the start, Google.cn has been forced to censor the search results according to the Chinese legal requirements.
On the other hand, China has a huge market, with more than 170 million internet users, which represent 20% of the world’s total internet population.
Prior to Google's establishment, Google.com was accessible, even though much of its content was not accessible due to censorship.
Actually, the Chinese search engine Baidu holds 63% of the Chinese market share, and Google holds 33%, according to iResearch (a Chinese consulting firm). The rest of competitors have less than 1%.
Adriana Rodríguez-Miranda Sánchez
S21sec, Oficina de Proyectos.