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Google's Brin offers no hint at China resolution

A month after Google declared that it might leave China, if it is not allowed to offer uncensored search results, co-founder Sergey Brin sheds no new light on those talks.

As the world waits for Google to clarify its business intentions in China, one of the company's co-founders said censorship requirements in that country grew worse after the 2008 Olympics.

Google's Sergey Brin, shown here at an earlier event, briefly discussed Google's situation in China at TED on Friday. Stephen Shankland/CNET

While the flow of information had loosened in China, following Google's initial entry into the country, "things took a turn for the worse," following the Beijing Olympics, with more and more sites getting blocked, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said on Friday at the TED conference in Southern California.

Google continues to comply with those laws but has forced a showdown with the Chinese government after declaring that it no longer wants to offer an censored search engine in China.

That statement came after Google and more than 30 other U.S. companies were attacked by hackers believed to be working on behalf of the Chinese government. Google has not confirmed that, and Brin declined to do so directly again on Friday, but he came as close to doing so as any Google official has yet to do, in opining that elements of the government may be involved.

"I don't actually think the question of whether [the attacks were performed by] the Chinese government is that important," Brin said, according to a transcript of the TED talk posted by Search Engine Land. "I think that the Chinese government has tens of millions of people in it. If you look at the army, the associated army, and whatnot, that's larger than most countries by far. So even if there were a Chinese government agent behind it, you know, it might represent a fragment of policy, as it were."

Brin offered no timetable for resolution of the dispute between his company and the Chinese government, which is now a month old. He did say he thinks it's eventually possible that China will change its tune on political censorship and allow Google to stay in the country with an uncensored search engine.