I haven't been able to fully digest the ramifications of Google's announcement that it will stop filtering its search engine results in China and may indeed pull its business out of the country entirely. Yes, Google's webprint in China isn't that big. But that's not the point.
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. 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. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.
I'm going to follow Jim Fallows on this -- our resident technologist and China hand (and politics hand and journalism hand and Iraq hand and...).
But there are several things worth pointing out. One is that Google admitted to having been hacked. One of the major obstacles in the country preventing a full and complete discussion of the age of cyberpower is the shyness that many companies exhibit when it comes to acknowledging security vulnerabilities. When the Granddaddy of them all, Google, becomes transparent on the issue, other companies -- maybe even banks (!) -- will feel less inhibited. (These coverups are among the reason why the country remains blissfully unaware of the cyberthreat.)