Google founder Sergey Brin: Engine driver2:32 PM Wednesday Jan 20, 2010
Google founders Sergey Brin (L) and Larry Page. Photo / AP
Google's bold stand against China owes much to the ideals of the internet giant's co-founder, write Tim Walker.
At the annual meeting of Google shareholders on 8 May 2008, a motion was proposed from the floor which called for an end to the company's activities in China.
When, two years previously, the world's largest internet firm had finally started doing business with the world's most populous country, Google's bosses agreed to impose search filters at the behest of Beijing.
Thus search terms such as "Tiananmen Square" or "Dalai Lama" threw up results that were either innocuous or simply censored. Many of Google's idealistic employees, let alone its users, had long been troubled by the compromise. One of the site's founders, Larry Page, voted the motion down, as did the CEO, Eric Schmidt. But Page's co-founder, Sergey Brin, abstained.
Last month, Google discovered that it had been the subject of a sophisticated attack on its computer systems, carried out by hackers in search of private data from more than 30 internet companies.
Among the targets were the accounts of Chinese human rights activists; experts claimed the hack could be traced to the Chinese government or its proxies. In response, Google announced that it would stop censoring results on Google.cn - the Chinese version of its search engine - or, should Beijing oppose the move, cease operating in China altogether.
Google-watchers all agree that Brin was behind the decision. "He's always had an emotional tug within him, saying 'we shouldn't be making compromises'," says Ken Auletta, the author of Googled: The End of the World As We Know It. [Read the rest]
posted by: jrtelegraph