Today, I found this announcement via Hacker News. Google says their servers were attacked, and that the primary goal was the gmail accounts of rights activists. They said that their security protecting email data wasn’t breached. However, their own investigation revealed that several rights activists email accounts have been routinely accessed by what appear to be third-parties using valid login information. This would suggest that the rights activists’ passwords have been discovered via keyloggers, packet sniffers or some other surveillance at their end.

In response, Google has decided to stop complying with the PRCs filtering regulations.

We launched in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that “we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China.”

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, 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, and potentially our offices in China.

David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer: A new approach to China

Related: A Chinese analysis of the situation
Related entry: Google Rejects DOJ Subpoena