Sergey Brin admitted yesterday in Washington that Google had adopted "a set of rules that [they] weren't comfortable with". Although he didn't explicitly said it, he referred at the decision to censor sensitive results from Google.cn. "We felt that perhaps we could compromise our principles but provide ultimately more information for the Chinese and be a more effective service. Perhaps now the principled approach makes more sense."
"It took Google more than a year to make the decision that offering a censored version of its search services in China would be a lesser evil than boycotting business in the country altogether", explained Eric Schmidt in January.
"Filtering our search results clearly compromises our mission. Failing to offer Google search at all to a fifth of the world's population, however, does so far more severely," was another position of Google at that time.
While Google has launched Google.cn, most Chinese people used Google.com, that didn't censor results, although many sites were inaccessible. Until last week, because Chinese authorities have blocked most domestic users from Google.com. "It was only to be expected that Google.com would be gradually sidelined after the censored version was launched in January," Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.
So now it's too late for Google to regret censoring the results for Google China. But it's never too late to find out the definition of censorship. Next time you think about this word, picture this beautiful image.
Censorship is the systematic use of group power to broadly control freedom of speech and expression, largely in regard to secretive matters. Sanitization (cleaning or decontamination) and whitewashing (from whitewash) are almost interchangeable terms that refer to particular acts or campaigns of censorship or omission which seek to "clean up" the portrayal of particular issues and facts which are already known, but which may conflict with a presented point of view. (from Google Glossary)
Update: Google.com is available again in China.