Google's Schmidt says China censorship will fail

Collapse of Great Firewall of China is inevitable, Google Chairman predicts

After carefully working with China for the past two years, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt bluntly predicted the fall of the Great Firewall of China.

"I believe that ultimately censorship fails," Schmidt said in an interview last week with Foreign Policy magazine. "China's the only government that's engaged in active, dynamic censorship. They're not shy about it."

In the interview, Schmidt predicted that once China's Internet censorship policies fall, an influx of free-flowing information could cause great political and social changes in the country.

"I personally believe that you cannot build a modern knowledge society with that kind of behavior. That is my opinion," said Schmidt.

"I think most people at Google would agree with that," he added. "The natural next question is when [will China change], and no one knows the answer to that question. [But] in a long enough time period, do I think that this kind of regime approach will end? Absolutely."

Schmidt's comments about the Chinese government and its efforts to keep its citizens from reading or viewing information on specific subjects come after Google has spent more than two years in talks with the Chinese government.

In March of 2010, Google announced that it would no longer censor search results as the government requested. At the time, Google's chief legal officer, David Drummond, said the company stopped censoring multiple sites, including Google Search, Google News and Google Images.

Google rethought its agreement to censor search results inside China's walls after a major attack against its network was launch in late 2009 from inside the country. The attack was aimed at exposing the Google Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

However, Google executives at the time also continued talks with Chinese officials in an attempt to maintain a link to the country's vast business potential.

Analysts were quick to try and dissect Schmidt's latest words.

"It's hard to say whether this is a sign that Google negotiations with China are floundering or whether it's just Schmidt laying out what he believes," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group.

"To many in the Chinese government, this will probably read like a provocative shot across their bow. But to others, particularly any who have studied history, it'll strike them as a reasonable and dispassionate explanation of how the world works," Olds added

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at ZK Research, said he thinks Schmidt might be lighting a new fire under China's feet.

"I'm not sure what would create the about-face other than Eric wanting to get more aggressive in China," he added. "The potential for China is huge but until things change, it remains a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow that [Google] can't cross."

Kerravala noted that if negotiations are going well, Schmidt might not have been off as so verbally aggressive.

"It could hinder things in the short term," he said, but added that while "it can create some animosity, but that's often the best way to get doors opened."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is

Read more about government/industries in Computerworld's Government/Industries Topic Center.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Sharon Gaudin

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts