Google leaves censorship to China's experts
China crisis not exactly a human rights triumph
Comment Amnesty International was among the human rights organisations scrambling to congratulate Google for threatening to pull out of China today.
Which just shows how much human rights activists know about technology. Come to think of it, if human rights campaigners did know more about technology, they might think twice about using Gmail accounts.
It’s hard to see Google’s move as a brave and principled strike against China’s intolerance of political dissent. The ad broker has said it’s no longer prepared to censor searches in China. So, does that mean it’s simply kicked the problem of policing Chinese Google searches to the Chinese themselves? It’s a sensible bit of outsourcing really – censorship is one of Beijing's core competencies. And they’ll probably do it more efficiently.
It’s also worth noting that in its blog posting announcing its change of heart, the fact that the China-based attacks on its systems were concentrated on human rights’ activists' emails was only the second point. First on the agenda for Google was that it had uncovered the attacks and that they went beyond Google and hit at least 20 other companies spanning finance, media, technology… corporate America/West you might say.
Google said it has tightened up its own systems, and is informing other companies affected – as well as going running to the likes of Hillary Clinton, who is threatening serious conversations with China over the issue.
But this is the same Google who on entering China four years ago chose to translate its “do no evil” slogan along Pekingese lines to mean "don’t mess with China’s foibles when it comes to democracy, Tibet, Tiananmen etc".
Now, when a company is trying to build a business convincing real businesses to trust its infrastructure, getting hacked by the Chinese is a business nightmare. Chinese hackers are reckoned to be raiding the West's systems not just for fun, but to uncover IP, policy, information, anything that might be useful to Beijing.
Google has been at pains to say "This was not an assault on cloud computing. It was an attack on the technology infrastructure of major corporations in sectors as diverse as finance, technology, media, and chemical... we believe our customer cloud-based data remains secure."
Except you might reasonably argue that Google’s technology infrastructure is all about cloud computing. And note that it isn't exactly offering a cast-iron reassurance.
The likes of US patent powerhouse IBM might not even think about trusting their secrets to Google, whether across email, or by having spreadsheets and presentations hosted in Google docs. But smaller firms might, and they might think twice about this if they think that red hackers already have an way into the system.
Luckily for Google its Chinese business isn’t the leader it is in other countries. If it has to pull out of the country altogether, all it means is it ditches its staff there, except for the brains it drags back to the US.
So, if Google decides to withdraw from China, what's the cost? It gives the appearance of making itself less of a target for Chinese hackers. It stops wasting money competing with powerful incumbents in China. It gets to repolish its 'don't be evil' door sign. It might even get some Google Docs business from Amnesty International. ®
Whatever their motive, be it for profit or out of altruism Google have certainly got balls in making a public stand on this issue.
More than you can say for the current Westminster regime who during the Olympics last year had Milliband bend over backwards under a "global trade" banner so that he could be shafted by the historical falsehood "Tibet has always been a part of China" while dodging flying shoes launched in protest at another example of military force projected to "liberate" another sovereign state.
GCHQ and MI5 would never think about bugging or electronic intelligence gathering against dissident Irish republicans, animal rights activists, GM crop protestors, arms trade objectors or Muslim groups who wish to march in solidarity with the slaughtered innocents now would they? And i doubt they'd go on record to admit to such state sanctioned clandestine activity?
Human rights activist or terrorist? You decide. But recognise that others may not share your interpretation.
As people if we are to avoid another catastrophic global conflict we must learn to become more tolerant, understanding and considerate of others which starts from taking a long look at ourselves first.
Whatever is going on,
it certainly is something other than what we are being told. After all, the Google leadership is reported to have consulted with Ms Clinton before going public with its decision - is Google now an arm of the US State Department - or rather the Pentagon, since it's obvious that the latter trumps the former in the councils of the Obama adminsitration, just as it did in those of its predecessors ? Note also that in all the articles on «hacking» and «high-technology espionage» that have been published in the corporate media on this development, not a word has devoted to the forays of the United States in this particular area, like the infamous Echelon, which is estimated to intercept up to three thousand million messages daily. Or, for that matter, the equally egregious «Patriot Act», which allows library loans to be checked without any notice, and imposes Draconian penalties if librarians reveal this to library users. But as noted long ago (Matthew 7:3), the mote in one's neighbour's eye is always of greater interest than the beam in one's own. I, for one, find it difficult to take seriously the indignation at human rights violations in other lands expressed by media organs which support their own country's criminal wars of aggression abroad....
Let me get this straight: from what I read on the net:
"A primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists."... two accounts of its online mail service - Gmail - appeared to have been accessed.... the attack was limited to accessing account information such as the date the account was created and subject line, rather than e-mail content... dozens of US, China and Europe-based Gmail users, who are "advocates of human rights in China", appeared to have been "routinely accessed by third parties"... accounts had not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but "most likely via phishing scams or malware"... At least 20 other large companies were similarly targeted.
I know Google Do No Evil, but are we really expected to believe that they are considering closing an operation worth well over $300 million a year because 2 email accounts of human rights activists were phished?
And how on earth did Google ever notice that the phished accounts belonged to human rights activists? And if the accounts were indeed phished/malwared then can a reg reader please explain to me how come no email content was compromised? And how the hell could Google know 20 other companies were "similarly targeted"? And what is the relationship between this story and China's internal censorship policy (which btw at least means kids there can actually surf porn-free). Sounds similar to the 911/Iraq sleight of hand to me.
I'm not going to get into a human rights debate, but this story just doesn't add up: someone's lying.