Google to end China censorship after e-mail breach

Google stops censoring searches in China, may leave after hackers target protesters’ e-mail

Google is threatening to embargo a superpower, in retaliation for an espionage campaign!  This is big news in the politics of technology and is definitely worth noting.  Here is a link to the article on Yahoo! from the AP.

Here is the official statement from Google about the incident.

Here is another article on the subject.

UPDATE – 03/22/2010

“A new approach to China: an update” – Google has decided to stop censoring all of their services on Google.cn and redirect all visitors to Google.com.hk, Google’s services in Hong Kong.  Google.com.hk services are uncensored and will remain uncensored.  Google has created this new page to monitor Google services availability in mainland China.

UPDATE – 03/19/2010

“Report: Google to leave China on April 10” – It looks like the battle is coming to an end.  From the article: “”I have received information saying that Google will leave China on April 10, but this information has not at present been confirmed by Google,” the China Business News quoted the agent as saying. The report also said Google would reveal its plans for its China-based staff that day.”

UPDATE – 03/12/2010

“Chinese minister insists Google obey the law” – More harsh words from China, but still no action.  From the article: “”If you want to do something that disobeys Chinese law and regulations, you are unfriendly, you are irresponsible and you will have to pay the consequences,” Li Yizhong, the minister of Industry and Information Technology, said on the sidelines of China’s annual legislature.”

UPDATE – 02/22/2010

“U.S. enables Chinese hacking of Google” – There’s been a bunch of repetitive articles out and some strong words back and forth between the U.S. and Chinese governments, but not much really happened.  Bruce Schneier, a well known American cryptographer, author, and security specialist, wrote an article outlining how the attackers exploited a backdoor access system into Gmail accounts, a feature implemented in order to comply with government search warrants on user data.  Read more here.

UPDATE – 01/25/2010

– China releases another statement:  “A statement published by the official state news agency from a spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said the “accusation that the Chinese government participated in a cyberattack, either in an explicit or inexplicit way, is groundless and aims to denigrate China.”  Read more here.

– China has not made a REAL move… yet.  This appears to be an unrelated story at the moment, but is interesting to note.  The founders of Google are cashing in more stock.  Actually, enough stock that would giveup the override voting power that they have combined against the other Google shareholders.  Which would essentially mean that they no longer have total control over the company that they founded.  From the article: “Page and Brin, each worth $12 billion, according to Forbes, currently hold 57.7 million shares of Google’s Class B common stock, representing 18% of Google’s outstanding capital stock and 59% of voting power–enough to override the wishes of all other shareholders if they wanted. After completed the planned sale of 10 million shares, they would collectively own 47.7 million shares representing 15% of outstanding capital stock and 48% voting power.”  Read more here.

UPDATE – 01/22/2010

– “We urge the United States to respect the facts and cease using so-called Internet freedom to make groundless accusations against China.”  Strong words from the Chinese foreign ministry site targeted at the US State Department.  Click here to read more.  From what I’ve seen, it appears it’s still a Stalemate between Google and the Chinese government, with words being thrown to and from the respective governments of the US and China.  Google expressed a commitment to continue business operations in China, but under it’s own terms of no restriction and free access to Chinese citizens.  No other actions have been taken.  China, it’s really your move.

UPDATE – 01/18/2010:

– “The Gmail accounts of foreign reporters in at least two news bureaus in Beijing have been hijacked, a journalists’ group in China said Monday.  The news comes just one week after Google said it had been targeted by recent cyberattacks aimed at accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.”  Read more here.

– China spins news of google threat.  Read more here.  It appears that China has decided to respond to this incident by not responding at all.  Personally, I think that the Chinese government knows that it is receiving a lot of bad press about this incident in the media across the world and they really don’t know how to respond to it.  I think the strategy for China is to sit and wait for a solution to present itself and ignore everything in the meantime.  As time goes on, people will begin to forget about the story and then China can make their move (whatever that is), when the story is “old news”.

– Google Inc. is investigating whether any of its employees in China played a role in facilitating a major cyber attack that prompted a decision to stop censoring its search results in the country.  Read more here.  This headline actually took me a bit by surprise at first.  Since an investigation on the attack had been already been completed and a report was released naming an Internet Explorer vulnerability as the culprit, I assumed that Google had already investigated all possibilities as to how the security breach had occurred.

UPDATE – 01/15/2010:

– “More victims of chinese hacking attacks come forward”.  The article sites that some of the companies hit were: Dow Chemical, Northrop Grumman, Symantec, and Yahoo.  However, most everyone involved is not saying much about the specifics of any attack targeted against them.  Read more here.

– Google moves to use HTTPS by default for their Gmail service.  Google probably should have done this before, but better late then never.  Read more here.

– The U.S. government in an attempt to address the issue, “will be issuing a formal demarche to the Chinese government in Beijing on this issue in the coming days, probably early next week”.  The U.S. government appears to be trying to tiptoe through a minefield on this issue.  I think they don’t want to get involved if they don’t have to (but, my guess is that they will probably be forced to get involved by the Chinese government).  Read more here.

NOTE – 01/15/2010: I’m very intrigued by this whole story regarding the battle between Google and China for a few reasons:

1.) This first time I’ve ever seen a multinational corporation large enough to basically put a trade embargo on a modern day economic superpower… and they did it, after conducting years of business together without any issue that I can remember.

2.) This is the first time I’ve seen this type of story regarding espionage with good evidence to suggest that the parties involved are BOTH government and corporate interests over multiple countries.  If the Chinese government really sanctioned cyber-attacks against large multinational companies, this is a REALLY big deal.

3.) Depending on how this progresses, you could end up seeing some sort of “cyber-cold war” between a modern superpower country and large multinational corporations, which could escalate to the point where it forces the hand of the U.S. government (in which case, things could really get problematic).  We’ll really have to wait and see what happens, but in the meantime, I find this story very interesting to follow.

UPDATE – 01/14/2010:

– The U.S. government is getting involved regarding Google’s claim that multiple companies were targeted in coordinated attacks sanctioned by the Chinese government .  U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is calling for an explanation from China regarding Google’s allegations.  Read more here.

– VeriSign’s iDefense security lab has published a report with technical details regarding the attack.  “The source IPs and drop server of the attack correspond to a single foreign entity consisting either of agents of the Chinese state or proxies thereof,” the report says.  The article can be found here.

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