Other companies should follow suit, says human rights group

Internet giant, Google, announced that it is considering pulling out of China after a “highly sophisticated” attack on dozens of its internet users.

Human Rights Watch said the decision not to accept censorship of the Google search engine was “an important step to protect human rights online”.

To date, Google and other companies have acquiesced to Chinese government demands to censor information.

Google announced the decision after revelations of "highly sophisticated and targeted attacks" on dozens of Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China. Google said some 20 other companies were also targets of cyber attacks from China.

"A transnational attack on privacy is chilling, and Google's response sets a great example," said Arvind Ganesan, director of Human Rights Watch's corporations and human rights program. "At the same time, this incident underscores the need for governments and companies to develop policies that safeguard rights."

Ganesan said that Google's decision spotlights the importance of freedom of expression and privacy online and illustrates the persistent risk to human rights posed by governments who see the free flow of information as a threat.

“Google's actions also highlight the growing dangers faced by foreign information technology firms in China where the government devotes massive financial and human resources to censor the Internet and to hunt down and punish ‘netizens’ who hold views which the ruling Chinese Communist Party disagrees with,” noted the human rights group.