back to article Google leaves censorship to China's experts

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 …


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  1. Britt Johnston
    Black Helicopters

    other countries want state access, too

    Several countries are trying to regulate aspects of data flow, with differing approaches. There may also be some gain in picking on a black sheep as a warning to near-white ones.

  2. Nat Pryce

    Engineers love non-monetary compensation

    It looks makes Google's engineers (who might be attracted by better paying jobs elsewhere) feel that they are working for a morally superior company.

    [Where's the icons for the Google CEOs?]

  3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Presumably state organised hacking

    I don't know if I've not been paying attention or if Britain is behind the times technically, but I've not been aware of waves of British hackers going into action against the rest of the world when our national interest or national pride is at stake. Not so Russia and China.

    Incidentally, is there evidence of the "Iranian Cyber Army" actually being in or associated with Iran, or are they perhaps the Russians, Chinese, or CIA?

    You may have heard that just before the German Third Reich invaded Poland, German units attacked a German border town posing as Polish troops, to make it look as though Germany was invading in self defence. It's hard to see that this mattered, but it's the sort of thing that goes on.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Double standards?

    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.

  5. jim 45

    get real

    "It’s hard to see Google’s move as a brave and principled strike against China’s intolerance of political dissent."

    That's because there's been no "move", just a self-serving public statement.

  6. Luther Blissett

    See no evil?

    > I've not been aware of waves of British hackers going into action against the rest of the world when our national interest or national pride is at stake.

    Do you think you should have been informed? So you could complain to the Grauniad? Hacking implies there are secrets worth hacking, which implies the target is technologically superior. If you think the status of British hacking is at stake you're barking in the wrong ballpark. OTOH in the co-intel field, the British have been doing extremely well, so well in fact that Grauniad readers haven't noticed that either. Take the Met Office for example: it fell just a little short of pulling off a global coup in Copenhagen. It has not quite convinced everyone of MMGW, but hey it's got the Graun on board, and sufficient steam to plough ahead with the nu imperialism (which of course is the transfer of the wealth of the poor to the rich).

  7. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    @morally superiority, Google and spying for profit.

    Ok, first off, @Nat Pryce: "feel that they are working for a morally superior company."

    Anyone who needs to feel superior (morally or otherwise) is going to end up treating people unfairly. They are placing themselves as superior to others. This is one of the biggest problems with all the extremist groups (both extreme political groups and extreme religious groups). They all have this superior attitude. They are so convinced they are right and above moral question. Ironically I've found all too often, they then take extreme offense when opposed, for any act they do that can cause harm to others. They simply don't want to hear they are wrong (because they are so convinced they are morally right), and so ironically fail to learn they are wrong and so continue to believe they are right. Its an arrogant, vicious circle, feedback loop.

    Maybe it would be better to call Google the Cult of Google, because all this Doublespeak about "do no harm" and "organizing the worlds knowledge" (as if they are only doing us a favor), is blinding them to the old Proverb: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." They fail to see the danger that so much destruction to privacy can cause, in the hands of people who seek to exploit others and dominate others. (After all, Google's offices and whole work culture would most definitely fit the definition of a Corporate Cult, so its no wonder employees are failing to see through Google).

    So I don't see Google having any reason to gloat and feel morally superiority.

    As for this : "But smaller firms might, and they might think twice about this if they think that red hackers already have an way into the system." ... what as opposed to Google spying on the smaller firms data?

    Just because Google are not interested in identity fraud, doesn't make them a zero risk for smaller firms. Also Chinese *government* hackers are very likely to be interested in the same thing Google's power hungry friends (in the background) are interested in. I.e. Industrial Espionage (always against other countries) which for example has been proven to occur between the US and Europe and so China gaining a place in the world market is no different. They are going to resort to Industrial Espionage just the same. (The ultimate goal of all spying is about money and power, so stealing useful company information is all part of that age old game. Industrial Espionage has a very long history, going back many centuries). I wouldn't trust any company. Bosses always have their own interests at heart plus their kind (so often Narcissists) so often lacks almost any empathy towards others.

    Plus its easy for the US government to twist Google's arm to quietly get access to some of Google's data. e.g. Do as we say, quietly help us in this, this and this, or we legislate against you and then force you under our control. So option A: ignore government, and then government forces them anyway, or option B, go along with what government wants. Either way, government gets Google under their control, just that Option B is more profitable. Which would a boss pick. Its much better to have friends in government than enemies. Its the way governmental power has be played behind closed doors, for centuries. Meanwhile in public, its all smiles and denials. The people in politics are not called Machiavellian for nothing. They know how to apply pressure. Using and exploiting power is what they are good at. (But then Machiavellian is just a 500 year old way of describing the actions of what these days psychologists would called Narcissists, both in business and politics). (So the chinese government and other countries are just trying to do the same thing via hackers, as they don't have direct access into Google).

    So only a fool would actually trust a company as powerful as Google. Its one thing to use Google, knowing they are watching, its quite another to use Google and yet cling to the ignorance of not knowing the business risks and games that are played in business and politics.

  8. Eduard Coli
    Big Brother

    Twice the tougue, twice the fun

    Maybe Google wants to sell more Nexus Ones?

    This might be a way for Google to save face when it is kicked out of China and repalced by the PRC's own search and pirated wares providers.

    Does anyone else think that the anon above is with the PLA?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give me a break!

    Anyone who thinks Google is acting - or even capable of acting - in anything other than its own self interest is in cloud cuckoo land.

  10. Neil Gerstenberg

    Someone's lying

    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.

    1. heyrick Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Someone's lying?

      Everyone's lying...

      I guess now we have "brought democracy to Iraq" (interpret that as you please) and have realised that chasing al Qaeda is about as good as chasing ghosts so we only end up chasing our own shadows (and then being afraid of them), we need a new target to fear.

      Enter the IT sector. Yup, there's an IT angle. :-)

      It's the venerable Chinese Hacker. Shiver with the terror! Quake in your shoes! Scream, uh, lots. For this slanty-eyed (epicanthic actually) pasty-faced (hackers and sun never meet) caffeine-laden young male adult (come on, deny the stereotype) finds extreme joy in trashing computer systems in the west. Not only are we powerless and scared, but after getting around his own government's extreme firewall, our lame efforts at so-called security are a walk in the park.


      And so on. Whatever.

      Meet your new Public Enemy #1.

  11. John Savard

    Does Google

    torture political prisoners?

    If not, I don't think they've taken leave of their senses, and become a menace to world peace and safety, by thinking of themselves as superior to the Chinese Communist Party.

    1. Neil Gerstenberg

      Probably not...

      but it turns out that we do. Oh I forgot, our political prisoners are terrorists, and we've all seen how great Jack Bauer is at saving the world.

      I'd like to believe that most people realize that nearly all states are involved in censorship, brainwashing and murder even if western governments now use carefully crafted euphemisms for these activities, words that have been drilled into us from an early age. NLP at its' best :-)

      Also, I'd like to see where the UK, US and China would appear in a study comparing the number of deaths caused by sovereign states on foreign soil. If any country is "a menace to world peace and safety" it's clearly not China, whose leaders are at least wise enough not to meddle with our affairs.

      Back to the article in question - maybe, just maybe, this all about Google trying to save face (now that's very Chinese!) before pulling out of China for other reasons?

  12. Malcolm Boura 2


    I would have more respect for the announcement if Google did not systematically censor services to the Weatern World, often therby imposing US prejudices on the rest of us.

  13. Jerome 0

    The cost

    "So, if Google decides to withdraw from China, what's the cost?"

    About $310m apparently, and a nasty little dip in the share price.

  14. mdubh

    Further reading

  15. mhenriday

    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....


  16. jim 45
    Thumb Down

    PR stunt

    Google has no intention of ever withdrawing from the Chinese market. This is just a PR stunt, intended to show disapproval of the Chinese government at no cost to Google. Whether the 'server attack' ever actually occurred is impossible to know.

  17. Barbara in Austin

    screw google...


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