Google is now in the process of reviewing its China operations, and will be discussing with Chinese authorities the how they can remove all filters from their searches and still operate within the law. This all came to head, after Google has been censoring itself for years, after a concerted effort from hackers from China to gain access to Gmail accounts that belong to human rights activists. Google didn't say, but by implication, I'm assuming it was Chinese human rights activists.
I've never been too comfortable with Google, Yahoo and Microsoft censoring themselves to operate in China. When I was there recently, I ran a little experiment myself -- nothing that would get me in trouble -- but I used Bing and Google to search in different cities. Amazingly, Google allowed me to find, more or less, some questionable content -- whereas Bing just told me that the search term was restricted and didn't give any results.
This move by Google, if taken to its logical end, is something to be proud of. Way to go Google ... looks like you're believing in "do no evil" again.
"These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China."
- Official Google Blog: A new approach to China (view on Google Sidewiki)