Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Google Considers Pulling Out of China

And yes, that is definitely a double-entendre, given that China's other recent Internet-related activities include paying Internet porn surfers to report porn sites to the government for a crackdown.

But that's another story altogether. Google is mad, and they aren't going to take it anymore.

We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, 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, and potentially our offices in China.

What precipitated this? The People's Republic of China's hacking Google to access human rights advocates' Gmail accounts.

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. ...
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 have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

Elsewhere in the post David Drummond (Google's Chief Legal Officer) links to an interesting report by Northrop Grumman for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Now, any scenario of military conflict between the U.S. and China is utterly terrifying, which is much of what the report focuses on. Of course, it also focuses on cyber-espionage:

The return on present investment for targeting sensitive US information in this way (the intelligence gain) can be extraordinarily high while the barriers to entry (the skills and technologies required to implement an operation) are comparatively low. Many countries are in the process of developing capabilities to either respond defensively to this threat or build their own offensive network operations programs, however, China is most frequently cited as the primary actor behind much of the activity noted in media reporting, and US officials are increasingly willing to publicly acknowledge that China’s network exploitation and intelligence collection activities are one of this country’s most consuming counterintelligence challenges.

In other words, Ceiling Cat is watching you. At least, he's watching you until he gets eaten by Chinese restaurant-goers

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