Internet giant Google is to stop censoring search results on its site in China and says it may pull out of the country altogether after hackers tried to access the e-mail accounts of human rights campaigners.
Google launched a version of its site in China four years ago, after agreeing to censor some of its content.
However, the BBC reports a spokesperson says recent cyber attacks on G-mail accounts in China have meant a rethink.
Google did not specifically accuse China's government but said it was no longer willing to censor its Chinese site's results, as the government requires.
Google has described the attack on its corporate infrastructure as one that was highly sophisticated and targeted.
Though its company blog, Google's chief legal officer David Drummond said while the attacks were not successful it goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech.
Mr Drummond said the attacks, combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web, had resulted in Google looking at whether it could continue to operate in China.
The online search market is believed to be worth $US1 billion and growing fast.