Timeline: Google quits censoring in China


After a rocky four-year relationship spent navigating Chinese law, Google has gone back to its "don't be evil" roots and moved Google.cn's servers to Hong Kong so it can stop censoring results.

January 2006

Google.cn launched in China, the world's largest internet market. The company warned China: "We will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China."

December 2009

China-based cyber attack hits Google and goes unnoticed for weeks.

January 2010

12 January - Google announced a new approach to China after discovering the attack on Google and over 20 other companies. The attack targeted people with access to specific parts of Google's network.

Google learned one of the primary goals was to access the personal Gmail accounts of China human rights activists. The company announced that it was considering pulling Google.cn out of China.

China-based Baidu the search leader in China saw its shares rise after the Google announcement. According to numbers from Analysys International, Google has about 30 per cent share of the $1 billion per year search market, well below Baidu's 61 per cent.

14 January - China reacted to Google's claims without mentioning the internet giant specifically.

Security analysts told Reuters the malware used in the Google attack was a modification of a Trojan called Hydraq. The sophistication in the attack was in knowing whom to attack, not the malware itself, the analysts said.

The Chinese government said that Google's claim that it was attacked by hackers based in China was "groundless."

15 January - McAfee said that those who engineered the attacks tricked employees of the companies into clicking on a link to a website that secretly downloaded malicious software onto their PCs through a campaign that the hackers dubbed "Operation Aurora."

21 January - The US government released statements on the dispute.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said: "Google is to be commended for taking action in response to cyber attacks originating from China targeting Chinese human rights advocates, and the intellectual property and corporate data of Google and more than 30 other companies. The announcement that Google will fully review its business operations in China and will no longer tolerate censorship of its search engine should serve as an example to businesses and governments."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "We look to the Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough review of the intrusions that led Google to make its announcement."