Communist China: Google – “A New Approach to China” – may pull out after attacks on Human Rights computers

By R.E.A.L. Organization • on January 13, 2010

Google is reporting on cyber attacks on Chinese human rights activists and attacks on U.S. and European supporters of human rights for the Chinese people.  BBC is reporting that Google is considering ending its operations in Communist China.  Google states “We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn.”

The New York Times has also reported on this issue, mentioning how searches on phrases such as “Tiananmen Square massacre,” “Dalai Lama,” and other similar searches have come up blank, as well as blocks on YouTube online videos.  In addition, the NYT quotes Wenqi Gao, a spokesman for the Communist Chinese Consulate in New York, who told the Times: “I want to reaffirm that China is committed to protecting the legitimate rights and interests of foreign companies in our country.”

Chinese supporters of Google have sent and laid flowers near the entrance to Google’s China office in Beijing with notes such as “Thank you for holding values over profits!”  The NY Times reports that the Google announcement is being censored in news throughout Communist China.  The Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time report is providing continuing coverage on this issue.

However, computer industry analysts are writing columns suggesting that Google may not leave Communist China, anticipating that “Google would be willing to settle for a more liberalized version of the censorship it already imposes on Google.cn.”

Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) has an online petition for your signature supporting Google’s call for ending censorship on Google.cn and asking them to stand by their decision on “a new approach to China.”  We urge you to sign this petition to show Google how we feel at:
http://www.petitiononline.com/flowerch/petition.html

The "Official Google Blog" Logo (Google)

The "Official Google Blog" Logo (Google)

Google Blog reports following statements by David Drummond, Google Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer” — “A New Approach to China”
– “Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks of varying degrees on a regular basis. In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident–albeit a significant one–was something quite different.”
– “First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses–including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors–have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities.”
– “Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.”
– “Third, as part of this investigation but independent of the attack on Google, we have discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users’ computers.”
– “We have already used information gained from this attack to make infrastructure and architectural improvements that enhance security for Google and for our users. In terms of individual users, we would advise people to deploy reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on their computers, to install patches for their operating systems and to update their web browsers. Always be cautious when clicking on links appearing in instant messages and emails, or when asked to share personal information like passwords online. You can read more here about our cyber-security recommendations. People wanting to learn more about these kinds of attacks can read this U.S. government report (PDF), Nart Villeneuve’s blog and this presentation on the GhostNet spying incident.”
– “We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech. In the last two decades, China’s economic reform programs and its citizens’ entrepreneurial flair have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty. Indeed, this great nation is at the heart of much economic progress and development in the world today.”
– “We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that “we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China.”"
– “These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.”
– “The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.”

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The New York Times also reported that “many people in Silicon Valley were surprised by Google’s stance. ‘I don’t think anybody is going to run away from China,’ said Joe Schoendorf, a partner at Accel Partners, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm with a major presence in China. ‘Google has Microsoft on the ropes, and China is arguably the world’s most important market outside of the U.S. You don’t walk away from that on principle.’ ”

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Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) urges you to let Google know that you agree with their goals for “a new approach to China,”  by signing our online petition, and by contacting Google and letting you know that you support their efforts.  Their press office email is press@google.com and their telephone number is 1-650-930-3555.

Google also provides a list of its executive management at:
http://www.google.com/intl/en/corporate/execs.html

Communist China - Flowers laid at the entrance to Google's China headquarters in Beijing (Wall Street Journal - Photo by Josh Chin)

Communist China - Flowers laid at the entrance to Google's China headquarters in Beijing (Wall Street Journal - Photo by Josh Chin)

The U.S. State Department has a statement on the Google China issue, which reads:
– “We have been briefed by Google on these allegations, which raise very serious concerns and questions. We look to the Chinese government for an explanation. The ability to operate with confidence in cyberspace is critical in a modern society and economy. I will be giving an address next week on the centrality of internet freedom in the 21st century, and we will have further comment on this matter as the facts become clear.”

Media Reports:

Wall Street Journal’s “China Real Time Report” Continuing Coverage on Communist China-Google News

BBC: Google ‘may pull out of China after Gmail cyber attack’
– BBC reports: “Google said the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists were the primary target of the attack, which occurred in December.”

BBC: Chinese surprise at Google pull-out threat

Guardian: Google challenge to China over censorship

CNN: Google’s gutsy move

Washington Post: China faces backlash from ‘netizens’ if Google leaves

NY Times: Google’s Threat Echoed Everywhere, Except China
– NY Times reports:
“Google’s declaration that it would stop cooperating with Chinese Internet censorship and consider shutting down its operations in the country ricocheted around the world Wednesday. But in China itself, the news was heavily censored.”

NY Times: Google, Citing Attack, Threatens to Exit China

Washington Post: Google threatens to leave China after attacks on activists’ e-mail
Washington Post reports: ” ‘It’s clear that this attack was so pervasive and so essential to the core of Google’s intellectual property that only in such a situation would they contemplate pulling the plug on their entire business model in China,’ said James Mulvenon, a China cyber expert with Defense Group Inc.”
– “Congressional sources said the other companies include Adobe and possibly Northrop Grumman and Dow Chemical. Industry sources said the attacks were even broader, affecting 34 firms.”

BBC: UK officials ‘to debrief Google on China cyber attack’

WSJ: Flowers for Google in China

WSJ: Google’s Watershed Moment in China

USA Today: Google stops short of fingering China for cyberattacks

VOA: Internet Censorship at Center of Google Dispute with China

CNET News: Google’s challenge in China

Guardian: Google blazes a trail with China rift

Guardian: US asks China to explain Google hacking claims


Guardian: Google pulls out of China: what the bloggers are saying

Mirror: Google admits Chinese human rights activists’ Gmail accounts were hacked

PC World: Google Hack Raises Serious Concerns, US Says

Google / Adobe Report Internal Attack from China

WSJ: Google China Employees in Limbo

PC World: Google Pulling Out of China? Don’t Bet On It

WSJ: Testing the Google.cn Filters

Flowers at Google Beijing Office with the Note "Google: Pure Man"

Flowers at Google Beijing Office with the Note "Google: Pure Man"

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