Week in review: Google slams China censorship

The search giant says it will no longer censor results in China. Also: Microsoft and HP aim for the cloud.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
3 min read

In a stunning about-face, Google announced it would no longer censor search results in China, and if the Chinese government balks, Google says it may take its servers and go home.

The change in Google's policy toward doing business in China came after Google discovered that it and other companies were the victims of a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack" aimed at gathering information about human rights activists. It is not clear whether the Chinese government was behind the attacks, which Google said in a blog post were also directed against other U.S. companies.

Google has always been a company with a moral pulse, one that in its early days attracted a certain sort of idealistic engineer who truly believed the world could be made a better place by a responsible corporation that efficiently spread information and technology around the world. Yet Google is also one of America's largest and richest public companies, and obsessed with growing even larger.

The collision of those two forces led Google into what the company founders may eventually come to consider as its worst decision: to self-censor search results in China for almost four years in hopes of improving overall access to information.
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•  What Google might leave on the table in China
•  Microsoft, Yahoo to follow Google's lead in China?
•  Google's peers mulling their options in China
•  Microsoft's Ballmer: We're staying in China
•  Google, China define positions over censorship

New IE hole exploited in attacks on U.S. firms

Microsoft warns about zero-day hole in Internet Explorer that was used in targeted attacks on Google and other U.S. companies, and which Google claims originated in China.
•  Unpatched Adobe holes link Google, earlier attacks

More headlines

Intel earnings surge 875 percent

Chipmaker's quarterly earnings jump on the back of very healthy gross margins, which hit a record 65 percent, all despite a series of payouts.

Microsoft, HP push businesses to clouds

Three-year, $250 million effort is aimed at helping businesses lower their technology spending by moving their computing resources online.
•  Understanding the HP-Microsoft deal

Microsoft Word injunction goes into effect

Among other things, as an injunction preventing sales of certain versions of Office takes effect, most versions of the suite are temporarily unavailable from Microsoft's online store.

2009 PC shipments inch into positive territory

The fourth quarter of 2009 saw the first time in more than a year that shipments of laptops and desktop grew.
•  Mac shipments up 23 percent in the U.S.

Facebook looking to beef up e-commerce team

Two years after rumors abounded about a PayPal-like transaction platform atop the social network, the company is posting job listings for a "Facebook Payment Operations" team.
•  Finally! Comment on Facebook through e-mail
•  'Anonymous' Facebook interview: Real or fake?
•  Fugitive who teased police on Facebook caught

U.S. to inject $187 million into fuel efficiency

Funding, which includes more than $100 million from the U.S. economic stimulus plan, will cover nine projects to improve fuel efficiency in trucks and cars.
•  Hybrids the early winners in electric-car race
•  Electric cars advance in Detroit
•  Survey hints at strong demand for electric cars
•  Ethanol alternative gains ground with new plant

Before and after Haiti's earthquake (photos)

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Tech companies pitch in for Haiti relief

Google and Microsoft give seven-figure donations, while Apple and cell carriers make it easy for customers to donate to the earthquake-stricken country.
•  Online masses text to offer Haitian quake relief
•  Relief money via texting surpasses $4 million
•  In urgent times, avoiding online charity scams

Video game sales explode in industry's best month ever

Reversing months of year-over-year declines, the industry recorded December sales of $5.53 billion, up 4 percent from a year earlier, according to The NPD Group.
•  EA wants your thoughts on Tiger Woods

Also of note

•  Firefox 3.6 due this month; next comes 'Lorentz'
•  Minnesota Twins stadium to recycle rainwater
•  IBM is the year's patent champ, again