If the rumours and speculation are correct, Google.cn may shut as soon as this week.Most pundits will likely praise Google for staring down the Chinese government and choosing “doing good” over “doing evil”. To help Google shareholders and the rest of the world better understand this decision (assuming it occurs of course), would Google please answer the following questions?
1. Exactly what was targeted in the hacker attacks, and what IP was stolen? Did the attacks lead Google to worry that its growing enterprise Google Apps business could be damaged? Google owes its users a detailed explanation of what happened;
2. Google is attacked hundreds or thousands of times of day. The attack(s) of some bad actor, very likely in China, precipitated Google’s decision that led to the shutdown of Google.cn. Google is ultimately responsible for protecting its networks and its users’ data. Were any Google employees, contractors or vendors disciplined or replaced for the lapses in Google’s security that allowed the compromise of some user accounts (some were compromised by phishing attacks directly on users), the penetrations of Google’s networks and the theft of IP? If any were disciplined, who are they and how were they disciplined?
3. What is the breakdown in search traffic originating in China between Google.cn and Google.com, quarterly since 2007? How much China search market share is Google surrendering with this decision?
4. What were total 2007, 2008, and 2009 China revenues for Google? How much revenue came from Google.cn and Google Adsense distributed on sites within China, and how much revenue came from sales of overseas advertising to Chinese enterprises? How much of this revenue does Google expect to retain?
5. Did Google approach any Chinese firms to discuss purchasing or otherwise taking over Google.cn, along the lines of the deal Yahoo struck with Alibaba?
6. What are the ramifications for Google-invested firms in China like Dianping, Xunlei and Ganji? Is Google doing anything to compensate these firms or their other investors for revenue and/or traffic lost by Google’s withdrawal from China? Does Google plan to continue to make minority investments in Chinese firms?
6. How is Google ensuring the security of the PRC citizens who have legal liability for any actions of the PRC company which held the Internet Content Provider (ICP) licence for Google.cn? If they are out of the country, how can Google guarantee that they and/or their relatives will not suffer repercusions, legal, financial or otherwise?
7. Will Google disclose the processes and systems through which Google China knew which topics and keywords were to be filtered on Google.cn? If not, is it because Google is concerned about the safety of the employee(s) who were in regular contact with the “relevant authorities”, or is Google worried about the public embarrassment such disclosures might cause?
8. There have been rumours and unsubstantiated reports that one of more Google China employees may have been involved in the hacking and/or IP theft. Can Google confirm or deny that Google China employees were involved? Has Google conducted an investigation using external security experts? If Google believes any Google China employees were involved, will Google release their names, so that other foreign firms know the risks before they hire them?
9. On the evening of Monday, March 15, several users found clear evidence that the Google.cn filter was removed for at least one “sensitive” search term. Will Google please explain why the filter stopped working?
10. Does Google have plans to offer a Google VPN or other technologies that will allow netizens in China (and other countries with filtered Internets) to access blocked information beyond their respective borders?
11. Has Google considered sponsoring the US Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo/World’s Fair? Why is Google not a sponsor?
12. What are the total, direct costs incurred in the closure of Google.cn?
13. What impact did Secretary Hilary Clinton’s speech on Internet freedom have on Google’s negotiations with the Chinese government? Did Google lobby to have Secretary Clinton mention the Google China situation, or did Google try to have her omit mention of the issue?
14. Did Google ever really believe it could negotiate a desired outcome with the Chinese government? Or did management understand that such a public challenge likely doomed Google’s prospects from the start?
15. Does Google have evidence of any efforts over the years by Baidu or other Chinese firms to instigate the Chinese government and/or Chinese media to investigate Google China for pornography, tax problems, or other issues? If yes, which ones?
If there are other questions you think Google should answer please add them in the comments.
You can follow my more frequent updates on Twitter @niubi
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