Wondering why people are surprised by Google's threat to withdraw from China. Agreed, the open threat is unusual given their past feet dragging on privacy issues. But what Google has done now is very much what they committed to doing when they signed up the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder initiative launched in October 2008 to protect online freedom.
I wrote a feature in Ethical Corporation (Strategy & Management section, Sept 2009 issue) on GNI which is worth revisiting now to understand where Google is coming from and what future course of action it might consider. The feature mentioned examples of what Google, Microsoft and Yahoo (the three first companies which signed up) are doing to implement the GNI principles.
Also worth reading is GNI's statement on Google's new approach to China. The statement begins with "Google’s decision to reconsider its business in China is an indication of the tough choices information and communications technology companies face around the world where respect for human rights is at risk."