Posts Tagged ‘Censorship

07
Jul
10

Google’s China webpage licence under review

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Google’s China webpage licence under review

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

••• Google Inc’s application to renew its Chinese Website license (Internet Content Provider license) is currently under review, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said yesterday.

But the ministry didn’t give a deadline for the license review.

It was the Chinese regulator’s latest response regarding the fate of Google China, which recently stopped redirecting automatically web searchers on China’s mainland to its Hong Kong site and applied to renew its license in the world’s largest Internet market last month.

“Google’s annual check-in is under way but there’s no detailed deadline for the result because its submission is relatively late,” said ministry spokesperson Wang Lijian.

The ministry is the body responsible for renewing and reviewing Internet content provider licenses.

Google shut down its mainland-based search engine on March 22 and rerouted users to its Hong Kong site.

It stopped the automatic redirect because regulators told the company its Internet license would not be renewed if it kept it going.

“We re-applied for the license at the end of last month and we are waiting for the results now,” said Marsha Wang, Google China’s spokesperson.

At present, only “music,” “translate” and “shopping” links, in Chinese, appear on the Google China webpage.

Visitors to google.cn will also see a tab that says, in English, “We have moved to google.com.hk.”

Clicking on that takes users to the Chinese-language site in Hong Kong.

Google clearly doesn’t want to give up the Chinese market, with more than 300 million netizens on the mainland. On the other hand, it has said it does not want to subject its Web searches to what it considers censorship under Chinese law.
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31
Mar
10

Google searches turn up empty

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Google searches turn up empty

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Internet users on the Chinese mainland who tried to conduct a Google search Tuesday most likely failed to obtain results while mobile services users reported partial blocking during the last two days.

Last week, users who attempted to use Google.cn were redirected to the Hong Kong website.

Users found out Tuesday that both the English site, Google.com, and the Chinese version of the search engine failed to return search results, although the homepages popped up.

AFP reported that its Shanghai reporter experienced no problems with the Google search engine.

But an Internet user in Shanghai said no search results came up.

The advanced search icon on both the English and Chinese sites were accessible.

A Google spokeswoman in Beijing told that they were aware of the problem but she was not able to say what caused it.

In the wake of Google’s decision to redirect Google.cn traffic to its Hong Kong website last week, Google also set up a website www.google.com/prc/report.html that was still accessible on the mainland Tuesday.

It provided daily status reports on the availability of its other popular services in China, including Doc, News, Mobile, Gmail, Blogger and Picasa service.

According to that website, Google’s search engine service on the Chinese mainland experienced “no issues” Tuesday but the mobile service was partially blocked on the mainland since Sunday.

The Google search engine on a reporter’s mobile phone, which uses Google’s Android mobile phone system, was working normally after it rerouted to Google’s Hong Kong sites in Wi-fi connections.

But Google search, maps and news service could not be accessed with the same mobile phone when it uses China Mobile GPRS data connection.
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency & Global Times (China)
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31
Mar
10

Google blames China’s ‘great firewall’ for blocking searches

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Google blames China’s ‘great firewall’ for blocking searches

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Google’s search sites in China abruptly stopped working yesterday, but the explanation for the outage changed as the day wore on.

The Internet giant first blamed its own engineers, citing a technical glitch, but later reversed course and pointed to the heavy hand of China’s “Great Firewall” – even as service appeared to be back to normal.

The evolving explanation caught Google watchers by surprise and showed how fraught with confusion the relationship between China and Google remains.

The episode risks escalating their battle a week after Google stopped censoring its search engine in China.

Google struggled to discern the cause of the massive disruption, in which users received error messages for Google searches from China on the company’s Hong Kong-based search site, Google.com.hk.

Google began routing Chinese Internet users to its Hong Kong site last week as it said it would no longer comply with China’s censoring policies and wouldn’t run a censored Chinese search engine.

Later in the day, Google reversed itself, saying it had made those changes a week earlier.

“So whatever happened to block Google.com.hk must have been as a result of a change in the Great Firewall,” the company said.

Wang Lijian, spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, one of China’s main Internet regulators, said he was unaware of any Google disruption.

Any permanent blockage of Google’s searches by China would deal a sharp blow to the company’s hopes of continuing to operate part of its business in the country after dismantling its censored Chinese site.

Google said last week that it hoped to maintain its music search and maps services in China, along with sales and research-and-development operations.

Beijing has expressed anger at Google for publicly flouting its censorship regime, and a decision to block access to Google entirely has always been considered possible.

Many analysts have believed Beijing would stop short of that for fear of infuriating Google’s tens of millions of regular Chinese users, not to mention foreign businesses that require access to information.

Because Google censored its old Chinese site, Google.cn, in accordance with government rules, that site wasn’t filtered by the government’s firewall.

Its international sites, such as the Hong Kong one, have always been subjected to filtering, meaning that Chinese users’ searches of some sensitive terms like those related to the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests, the initials RFA, for Radio Free Asia, or even the names of top leaders might trigger an error message from the browser instead of a results page.

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24
Mar
10

Google’s withdrawal from China pushing itself into corner

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Google’s withdrawal from China pushing itself into corner

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

•••Google’s decision to stop censoring its Chinese search engine and redirect mainland users to its servers in Hong Kong was tantamount to pushing itself into a corner and ruining its image and interests, world media and experts say.

“If Google had hoped to rally rivals to its cause, it failed. If Google was planning to embarrass China by whipping up a global debate on Internet freedom, it failed,” the Financial Times wrote in an article published Monday.

China trade economist Derek Scissors of the U.S. Heritage Foundation called Google’s move to Hong Kong “pretty close to a complete exit” that will provoke Beijing and puts Google outside the firewall with regard to advertisers and other partners.

Russian newspaper Vedomosti said Google has completely burned all of its bridges in China behind it and is unlikely to ever return to the Chinese market.

Google, the world’s top search engine, held only an estimated 30 percent share of China’s search market in 2009, compared with home-grown rival Baidu Inc’s 60 percent. Official statistics put the number of netizens in China at 384 million by the end of 2009.

Michel Riguidel, head of the Department of Computer Science and Networks at Telecom Paris Tech, said all companies pay great attention to building their own images.

Google claimed that its image is based on freedom, information exchange and respecting human rights, but the fact is that it absorbs large amounts of personal information and does research on the information without getting agreements from web users, Riguidel said.

Izumi Harada, chief fellow of the Crisis and Risk Management Society of Japan, told Xinhua that there is no question that multinational companies should follow local laws while running their businesses in other countries.

Google has breached the commitment to observe Chinese laws and regulations that it made when entering China (four years ago), he said.

Jesse Wright, a leading expert of Institute Internet, told a Russian radio station that Google has been working in China since 2005 and knows the requirements of Chinese law.

“Compliance with the requirements of the Chinese was a condition of work in this market,” Wright said. “So, trying to force China to reconsider its own censorship requirements – be it Google or others – it seems to me untenable.”

Alexey Basov, CEO and co-founder of Begun, Russia’s largest contextual ad service, said if Google quits the Chinese market, it will be a major strategic loss for the company.

At about 3 a.m. Tuesday Beijing time, Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond made the “stop censoring” announcement in a blog post, saying “users visiting Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk, where we are offering uncensored searches in simplified Chinese.”

In reaction, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a routine media briefing that: “The Google case is just a business case and will not undermine China-U.S. relations unless someone politicizes the issue.”
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China)
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24
Mar
10

Arguments over Google’s withdraw

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Arguments over Google’s withdraw

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

••• Google is also citing censorship in its withdrawal from the Chinese mainland market. Some netizens and experts say foreign companies should abide by the laws of the country.

Chinese Internet users and experts say abiding by the laws of the country is an established convention. They say all this applies to all companies, including Google.

A Chinese internet user said, “China has its own system and you have to abide by the laws in China if you want to do business in China. “

Shi Xiangsheng, Deputy Sec’y Gen., Internet Society of China, said, “The foreign Internet companies must promise to respect the local customs and laws when they start business in China. And it’s also the international convention.”

Google says another factor in the pull-out was attacks by hackers.

Shi said, “We are not quite clear about the hacker attack Google mentioned. But it did not appeal to the relevant regulator or ask the Chinese government to carry out investigations on the case. “

Some say it’s debatable that Google has completely withdrawn from China, as it transferred its search business to Hong Kong.
• Source(s): CCTV (China)
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24
Mar
10

Google in hot water

NEWS
Google in hot water

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

••• Google has recently been warned by several foreign authorities over its controversial services including Google news, Google street view, as well as the latest social network service Google buzz.

Last month, the European Union Commission said it had received various requests for anti-monopoly investigations regarding the Internet search giant. They claim Google has been filtering out its competitors on purpose in order to keep more advertisement profits.

In France, the government has formed a special team to investigate lawsuits filed by local media companies against Google. They accuse the company of profiting from their products without reimbursement. Another lawsuit was filed by Louis Vutton.

The luxury bagmaker said it has found links on Google’s website to pirated products. Italian authorities have also launched an anti-trust investigation against Google filed by the country’s print media.

Meanwhile, Google street view, which was introduced in 2007, has challenged privacy laws in Britain and Germany. Though the company has begun to obscure search results for human faces and car license plates, it is still frequently taken to court for violating privacy rights. Its latest social web service, Google Buzz, has also been accused of a privacy breach. The company was ordered by the Canadian government to explain privacy bugs, which have already triggered widespread complaints.

Google’s trouble seems to be everywhere. Recently Spanish telecom operator Telofonica accused the company of using free bandwidth for its own benefit. The company said it is considering charging Google for network use.
• Source(s): CCTV (China)
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24
Mar
10

Who will share the cheese after Google moves?

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Who will share the cheese after Google moves?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

••• Netizens said Tuesday Google’s withdrawal from the Chinese mainland was only a “publicity stunt” while experts believed the online search giant had abandoned its cheese when no others moved it.

Google announced Tuesday morning that it had stopped censoring its Chinese-language search engine Google.cn and redirected Chinese mainland users to another portal in Hong Kong.

Google’s earlier threats to pull out of China and its latest move to reroute traffic to Hong Kong were just “publicity stunts,” said a netizen named Ding Wei on the Internet industrial network www,sootoo.com.

“Google’s redirecting Google.cn to Google.com.hk is a compromised decision reflecting that the company wants to save its reputation in China,” the netizen said.

Google said in Tuesday’s statement it still intended to continue research and development and maintain a sales staff in the Chinese mainland.

Experts interviewed by Xinhua said they believed Google’s latest move was mainly out of business and market concerns, adding that Baidu and other Internet companies doing business in China would benefit from Google’s withdrawal.

“Google faces censorship in about 25 countries, but why does it only quit the Chinese mainland? Because it can not beat Baidu,” said Dr. Wang Yu, a Nanjing University lecturer.

“Google does not give up its smart phone operating system Android or other partnerships with domestic Internet companies, because unlike Google.cn, they are all promising,” said Wang who specializes in network information studies.

The domestic search giant Baidu would not be the only beneficiary of Google’s exit.

“Google’s about 30 percent market share in search services on the mainland will be absorbed not only by search engine rivals but also companies doing other search-related businesses,” said Li Zhi, a senior analyst with Analysys International, a leading Chinese Internet consulting company.

According to Analysys, Baidu occupies about 60 percent of the market share. Sohu’s Sogou, Tencent’s Soso and other new-comers including Microsoft’s Bing were all eyeing Google’s share of the market, analysts said.

Microsoft’s Beijing office said in an email reply to Xinhua on Tuesday that the company regarded China as the most important online search service market.

“The pull-out is the price to pay for Google’s move of politicizing commercial issues,” Li Zhi said.

Sean Tzou, CEO of Trina Solar Limited, a U.S. joint venture based in Changzhou of Jiangsu Province, said the biggest challenge for many joint ventures in China was their willingness and ability to adapt to the local environment.
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China)

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23
Mar
10

Google case will not affect China – United States relations

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Google case will not affect China – United States relations
▪ China says Google issue will not affect China – United States ties

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

••• Google’s withdrawal from the Chinese mainland will not affect China-U.S. relations “unless someone politicizes the issue,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Tuesday.

Qin told a regular press conference the Google issue was a commercial matter and would not damage the image of China.

He said moves to tie the issue to the China-U.S. relations were “making a fuss” and “overstating the issue.”

The Chinese government encouraged and pushed for the openness of Internet and its management according to its laws and regulations, which was common practice in all countries, Qin said.

“What China is striving to prevent on the Internet is the flow of information that would pose a danger to national security and the interests of the society and the public,” he said.

“Any foreign company operating in China must abide by Chinese laws and regulations,” Qin said.

China would stick to the strategy of opening-up and the principle of mutual benefits, and welcome foreign entrepreneurs to invest and do business in China within the law.

“We will create a sound environment for them,” he said.

Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond said his company would “stop censoring” in a blog post at about 3 a.m. Tuesday Beijing Time, more than two months after the company said it had been attacked by hackers operating in China and was reconsidering its approach to China.
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China)

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22
Mar
10

China says Google breaks promise, totally wrong to stop censoring

NEWS
China says Google breaks promise, totally wrong to stop censoring

Monday, March 22, 2010

••• Google has “violated its written promise” and is “totally wrong” by stopping censoring its Chinese language searching results and blaming China for alleged hacker attacks, a government official said early Tuesday morning.

The official in charge of the Internet bureau under the State Council Information Office made the comments about two hours after the online search service provider announced it has stopped censoring its Chinese-language search engine Google.cn and is redirecting Chinese mainland users to a site in Hong Kong.

“Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks,” said the official.

“This is totally wrong. We’re uncompromisingly opposed to the politicization of commercial issues, and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conducts,” the official said.
Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond made the “stop censoring” announcement in a blog post at about 3 a.m. Tuesday Beijing Time, more than two months after the company said it had been attacked by hackers supported by the Chinese government and was considering pulling out of the Chinese market.

The Information Office official said relevant departments of the Chinese government talked with Google twice at its requests, on Jan. 29 and Feb. 25 respectively, to hear the company’s real intentions and demonstrate sincerity of the government.

“We made patient and meticulous explanations on the questions Google raised (in the talks), …telling it we would still welcome its operation and development in China if it was willing to abide by Chinese laws, while it would be its own affair if it was determined to withdraw its service,” the official said.

“Foreign companies must abide by Chinese laws and regulations when they operate in China, ” the official said.

He noted that the Chinese government encourages the development and promotes the opening-up of Internet.

“Online opinion exchanges are very active in China and e-commerce grows rapidly here. As facts have demonstrated, the environment for Internet investment and development in China is sound,” the official said.

“China will unswervingly adhere to the opening-up principle and welcomes foreign companies’ participation in the development of Internet in the country,” he said.

The official also vowed the government will provide good service to foreign businesses, adding Internet will maintain, as before, rapid growth in China.
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China)

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22
Mar
10

Google says its Google.cn site redirected

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Google says its Google.cn site redirected

Monday, March 22, 2010

••• Google Inc. on Monday said users visiting Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk.

The U.S. Internet company said in a blog posting that it intends to continue R&D work in China and also to maintain a sales presence there.

• Google to offer browser plug-in for privacy protection

Google is working on developing a browser plug-in that will let users opt-out of being tracked by Google Analytics.

Google Analytics product Manager Amy Chang said that engineers had been working on the plug-in during the past years and it would become available globally in the coming weeks.

According to a study by University of California, Google Analytics had been used in 71 percent of roughly 400,000 top domains as of March 2009. Google-controlled web bugs are tracking users on 92 of the net’s top 100 sites.

Although widely used in the world, the tool, Google Analytics, has always been criticized for privacy infringement.

“Now, there is a solution to that,”said Chang,”The plug-in will give users the choice to fully opt-out of sending any information back to Analytics”.

Google Analytics is a tool for tracking and analyzing site traffic. If the plug-in is finally installed in a large proportion of netizens’ computers, website builders and advertisers might find it hard to get the accurate data of click rate.
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China)
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22
Mar
10

Google stops censoring in China

NEWS
Google stops censoring in China
• Google moves Chinese search to Hong Kong

Monday, March 22, 2010

••• Google has stopped censoring its search and news results in China and began redirecting visitors to Google’s Chinese-language service hosted in Hong Kong, making good on a threat in its high-profile standoff over censorship with Chinese officials.

The company said it is not pulling out of China and it will continue to host non-search services in China and intends to keep sales and research operations in China.

A Google spokesman said it is “too early to tell” what will happen to its roughly 600 employees in China, who may be reassigned.

David Drummond, the company’s chief legal officer, wrote in a blog post that the company’s Hong Kong site is “offering uncensored search in simplified Chinese, specifically designed for users in mainland China and delivered via our servers in Hong Kong”.

Mr Drummond said Google believes the move is a “sensible decision,” but said Google is “well aware that it could at any time block access to our services”. The company has also set up a site showing users which of its services are available in China and which are being blocked by the government.

“We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement,” Mr Drummond wrote.

The announcement comes after months of suspense over the fate of Google’s Chinese business, which has been in jeopardy since January 12, when the company said it would stop censoring its search results after it was hit by cyber attack it traced to China.

Google said at the time that it was increasingly troubled by China’s attempts to limit free speech.

The White House said it is “disappointed” that Google and China couldn’t settle a months-old dispute over censorship, but respects the company’s decision to stop its censored web-search services in China, Dow Jones Newswires reported later.

“We are disappointed that Google and the Chinese government were unable to reach an agreement that would allow Google to continue operating its search services in China on its google.cn Web site,” National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said.
Google said earlier that it will rout users to uncensored versions of Google Search, Google News and Google Images hosted in Hong Kong (Google.com.hk). The firm, which said in January that it was hit by a cyber-attack it traced to China, said it isn’t pulling out of the country, however.

Mr Hammer said in an email that the NSC was informed by Google shortly before its announcement.

“Google made its decision based on what it believed was in its interest,” Mr Hammer said. “We respect Google’s decision and refer you to the company for details. We have previously raised our concerns about this issue directly with the Chinese government.”

The matter is the latest in a series of disputes between Washington and Beijing, a list that includes the US’s concerns over China’s currency and China’s fury over a US arms deal with Taiwan.

Mr Hammer said US-Sino ties are “mature” enough to cope with differences of opinion.

• Source(s): The Wall Street Journal & Dow Jones

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22
Mar
10

Indifference, uncertainty cloud Google’s China threat

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Indifference, uncertainty cloud Google’s China threat

Monday, March 22, 2010

••• As the world’s largest search engine Google has been reported to announce its plan of leaving China on Monday, most Chinese Internet users believe they will be ok with a no-Google Internet despite all predictable inconvenience.

In a survey conducted by http://www.huanqiu.com, the official website of the Global Times newspaper, an affiliate of the People’s Daily, Internet users were asked “What’s your opinion of Google’s pulling out of China?”

Up to 84 percent of more than 27,000 respondents answered the “Don’t care” option.

“If Google wants to leave, just do it, and I will turn to Baidu. For sure we can survive without Google,” said an anonymous comment from Shandong Province on the news portal Xinmin.cn.

Google stirred up controversy in the world’s media and on the Internet in January when the company’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, said in a blog that Google might shut down google.cn and its China office due to disputes with the Chinese government and unidentified cyber attacks against its Chinese users.

The drama has continued for more than two months, during which its senior executives reiterated the company’s threat to stop “censoring search results in China,” while at the same time revealing the company was “negotiating with the Chinese government.”

The Chinese government has insisted that it maintains its regulation of the Internet and that foreign companies must abide by Chinese laws and regulations.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said earlier in mid March that the company’s course of action would be announced “soon”.

“At first I felt sorry for Google, but after so many disputes, many of us get sick of it,” said a posting by “Caidao Rouqing” on the popular Tianya website.

Google has had problems in other countries too, ranging from lawsuits to disputes with governments in Germany, Britain, France, the Republic of Korea and its homeland, the United States.

However, Chinese users fear they will be unable to use the English-language google.com and other Google services, such as Gmail and Gtalk, if Google shuts down google.cn.

The worst but also likely scenario would be “an absolute pulling out” of all Google services, said Peter M. Herford, former producer of the U.S. current events show, “60 Minutes,” and journalism professor with Shantou University in south China’s Guangdong Province.

“Chinese searchers have Baidu and a few minor search engines, and English searchers will have Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo,” Herford said, who is a long-term Google user and Internet observer.

“Google search in China is a minor player, and China is a very small part of Google’s search business. This is not the end of the world by any means,” Herford said.

Still, some netizens do regret the loss of services tailored for Chinese users on google.cn, such as maps, videos, music and translation.

Chinese blogger Ding Wenqiang said people would feel uncomfortable using alternative services at first, but would soon get over it.

“It’s like breaking up with boyfriends or girlfriends. People will find new ones soon,” Ding said.

Internet users in China who rely on Google for business also have their own worries.

Although Google’s threat to pull out did not mention its Internet advertisement businesses in China such as Google AdWords and AdSense, website operators who profit from the business-to-business tools still worry about the uncertainty.

“Google’s advertising services have created a lot of job opportunities in the Chinese Internet market, which has not been noticed by ordinary Internet users,” said Huang Haowen, an I.T. blogger who proclaims to be a loyal google fan.

Li Zhi, an analyst with Analysys International, said that AdSense was the main source of Google’s profit in China and a major competitor among tailor-made advertisement publishing tools in China’s market.

“If Google also pulls out AdSense, Baidu will be more dominant in online advertising business, and that might raise the costs for Chinese advertisers,” Li said.

As of 7 p.m. Monday, Google has yet to make any announcement on its plan of quiting China.
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China)

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21
Mar
10

Chinese official media slams Google withdrawal threat as ‘arrogant’

NEWS
Chinese official media slams Google withdrawal threat as ‘arrogant’

Sunday, March 21, 2010

••• China’s official media on Saturday slammed U.S. Internet giant Google Inc. as “arrogant” for threatening to pull out of the Chinese market if the government doesn’t compromise on its Internet regulations.

“Maybe Google is preparing to retreat, and maybe it is still hesitating. But one thing is clear: China won’t let its regulations or laws bend to any companies’ threats,” said a commentary carried by the China Daily.

“It is ridiculous and arrogant for an American company to attempt to change China’s laws. The country doesn’t need a politicized Google or Google’s politics.” it said.

The strongly worded attack came after Google, the world’s largest Internet search engine, said in January it was contemplating a withdrawal on account of China’s attempts to further limit free speech in cyberspace and China-based cyber attacks and surveillance activities.

It declared it was “no longer willing to continue censoring” its search results on Google.cn and said it would enter into discussions with the Chinese government on “the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.”

Google CEO Eric Schmidt was recently quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying at a media summit in Abu Dhabi that the company remained in “active negotiations” with Beijing and that “something will happen soon.”

Reports appearing in Chinese media this week cited sources as saying Google may announce early next week its plans to close all or part of its operations in China in April.

Amid dimming hope for a compromise, Saturday’s commentary suggested China is far from willing to concede by allowing unfiltered search engines to operate in the country.

“No country will allow information about subversion, separation, racialism and terrorism to circulate in it through the Internet.” it said. “Sovereignty and borders also exist in cyberspace, which will need to be watched by each country’s laws and regulations.”
Google.cn is the second most popular search engine in China with 338 million users, after Baidu.com, a local search engine commonly said to be China’s answer to the search engine giant.

Together, the two companies account for 96.3 percent of an online search engine industry estimated at 6.95 billion Chinese yuan (about $1 billion) in 2009, although Google lags far behind with only about a third of the total market.

The commentary said Google “must know that it should abide by laws and regulations in each country if it wants to do business there. Only by doing this can it become localized and win good market share as well as gain profits.”

Prior to its January declaration, Google had been criticized by free speech advocates for cooperating with the government in censoring search results with politically sensitive content.

It had maintained that the benefits of its presence, including increased access to information for Chinese users, outweighed the cost of censoring some results.

The commentary appeared to suggest that Google’s recent change of heart has less to do with alleged Chinese government support for hacking attacks against it, for which it said Google has no evidence, and more to do with its becoming politicized under the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

“Google’s relations with the U.S. government cannot be deeper,” it said, noting that Google was the fourth-largest supporter of Obama in his election campaign and that former Google executives are now serving in positions in his government.

“Google’s actions show that the world’s biggest search engine company has abandoned its business principles and instead shows the world a face that is totally politicized,” it said.

“How can people believe that the company’s search results are without any bias when it lacks independence as well as business ethics?”

With or without Google, the commentary said, “China’s Internet market with 400 million users can only and will grow stronger.”
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China) & Japanese Press
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19
Mar
10

Google ‘may announce China plans on Monday’

NEWS
Google ‘may announce China plans on Monday’

Friday, 19 March 2010

••• Google Inc. may pull out of China on April 10, China Business News reported Friday, citing an unidentified Chinese sales agent for the company.

The search engine may announce its exit Monday , the Shanghai-based newspaper reported, citing an unidentified Google China employee. It may reveal plans for its China work force on the same day, according to the report.

The company hasn’t confirmed the April 10 date for its pullout, although CEO Eric Schmidt said last week that something should happen soon.

A Tokyo-based spokeswoman for the company, Jessica Powell, declined to comment on the newspaper report.

In January, Google challenged the government of the world’s most populous country by threatening to allow all search results to be shown on its Chinese-language Web, including references to Tibet and the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

The Chinese government, which restricts Internet content, said the company had to obey its rules. The two sides have since been in talks to resolve the issue.

Google told its China employees after the January announcement that, should a pullout occur, they would have the option of moving to the company’s U.S. headquarters or working for its Asia-Pacific operations, the report said.

That suggests an exit from the Chinese market would only include the closure of Google.cn, rather than a complete end to Google’s business in China, the report said. Google has about 35 percent of the Chinese search market.

A pullout by the U.S. company would mean it would probably be unable to return to the world’s biggest Internet market, said Peter Lui, formerly the company’s financial controller for the Asia Pacific region.

The public manner in which Google announced its intention means it may have “burnt bridges, and they’ve burnt the Google brand in China,” Lui said. “There is no way Google can ever come back.”

The company said it decided to stop censoring content after discovering its computers had been hacked from within China. Google said its systems had been targeted by highly sophisticated attacks aimed at obtaining proprietary information, as well as personal data belonging to Chinese human rights activists who use the company’s Gmail service.

At least 20 other international companies were similarly targeted, Google said.

The New York Times reported last month that the origins of the attacks had been traced to Shanghai Jiaotong University and Lanxiang Vocational School in eastern China’s Shandong province. The reports are “totally groundless,” said Qin Gang, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry.

McAfee Inc., the second-largest maker of computer security software that has been exploring the attacks with larger rival Symantec Corp., said this month it had discovered at least six incidents in which the computer systems that companies use to house valuable intellectual property had been accessed. Security research firm ISEC Partners Inc. said the attacks that Google reported employed skills that were “much greater than most enterprises are equipped to deal with.”

Speculation that negotiations had faltered intensified after the government said last week the plan to stop filtering at its Google.cn site was irresponsible. Some Google advertisers in China have been advised to switch to rivals, including Baidu Inc.

China censors online content it deems critical of the government by shutting down Web sites based in the nation and blocking access to overseas sites, including those of Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and YouTube. The Chinese service started by Google in 2006 limits search results to comply with government restrictions, such as blocking access to sites that discuss Taiwan or Tibetan independence, the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement and the Tiananmen Square military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

China has 384 million Internet users, according to government data, more than the total U.S. population.
• Source(s): AFP, Cox Media & CNN
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16
Mar
10

Chinese Censorship of Google Issue Betrays Concerns

NEWS
Chinese Censorship of Google Issue Betrays Concerns

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

••• Chinese authorities have been explicit and unwavering in their disapproval of Google’s threat to disobey their censorship regulations on its Chinese search site, Google.cn. The company will have to “bear the consequences” for making such an “irresponsible” move, the Minister of Industry and Information Technology said last week.

Behind the scenes, however, there are signs that officials realize that their view on Google may not be superpopular. The Communist Party’s Propaganda Department issued requests to media outlets on Friday to halt their coverage of the possible closure of Google’s Chinese Web site, says a Chinese journalist familiar with the situation. Chinese news Web sites have also been told they will be required to use only official accounts of the situation if Google.cn is closed, another individual with knowledge of that order said.

It’s not uncommon for propaganda authorities in China to give orders dictating the nature of news coverage on sensitive issues where they fear dissent. The fact that authorities have decided that Google’s situation should get that treatment suggests they know that many Chinese Internet users, tens of millions of whom are Google users, don’t see things the same way the government does.

On Monday, coverage of Google in the Chinese media was scarce, apparently reflecting the government gag-order. One of the few items that ran was a commentary by the state-run Xinhua news agency that sharply criticized Google’s actions. It accused the company of “sensationalizing” Chinese Internet censorship and of violating “basic international practices” of following local laws. “We welcome Google to stay if it wants, but it has to abide by Chinese law. There is no space to bargain on this issue,” the commentary said. “One thing is certain: the earth will not stop spinning because Google leaves. Chinese Internet users will continue to go online.”

Indeed, there are Chinese users who feel Google has been too uncompromising, and some actually approve of the sorts of limits the government sets on Internet expression, which they see as a way to cleanse it of pornography and violence. Even Google users, who tend to be young, urban professionals, are unlikely to take to the streets en masse if Google.cn is shut.

But Internet censorship is a hot-button issue for an increasing number of Internet users in China, and interviews and online polls suggest that most Google users in China – even those who support Google’s decision on principle – do not wish to see the company leave. The company is widely perceived in China for having more innovative products, having better English-language search results, and for being less zealous in filtering its results than Chinese competitors. When it first announced on Jan. 12 that it might leave, supporters brought flowers to its offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

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13
Mar
10

Google ‘99.9 percent’ sure to shutter Google.cn

NEWS
Google ‘99.9 percent’ sure to shutter Google.cn

Saturday, March 13, 2010

••• Google, seemingly torn between Chinese censorship and Chinese opportunity, is now “99.9 percent” certain that it will shut down its Chinese search engine, Google.cn.

According to a Financial Times source “familiar with the company’s thinking,” the search giant, having reached an apparent impasse with the Chinese government officials, has drafted detailed plans to close the Chinese search business, though it remains optimistic about finding a way to maintain its overall operations in China.

For Google, which, amid an investigation into alleged Chinese hacking of prominent U.S. Web properties, expressed in January that it no longer intends to run a censored search engine in China, staying in China after shuttering Google.cn could involve enabling its Chinese sales, software development, and research operations to remain intact.

Throughout the first quarter of 2010, it has appeared very unlikely that the Chinese government would revise its Internet censorship laws for Google–or any other company wishing to operate in China, for that matter. Its public message–that these companies are subject to Chinese law, regardless of their internal ethical codes–has not wavered.

“If [Google] takes steps that violate Chinese laws, that would be unfriendly, that would be irresponsible, they would have to bear the consequences,” Li Yizhong, China’s minister for industry and information technology, said Friday, according to the Financial Times report.

Despite those stern words, Li encouraged Google, which he said has “taken 30 percent of the Chinese search market,” to continue its operations in the country, employing its people. To Google, he said, “If you don’t leave, China will welcome that; if you don’t leave, it will be beneficial for the development of the Internet in China.”

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12
Mar
10

China warns Google as Internet row deal seen soon

NEWS
China warns Google as Internet row deal seen soon

Friday, March 12, 2010

••• China warned Google, the world’s largest search engine, against flouting the country’s laws on Friday, as expectations grow for a resolution to a public battle over censorship and cyber-security.

The chief executive of Google, Eric E. Schmidt, said this week he hoped to announce soon a result to talks with Chinese authorities on offering an uncensored search engine in China.

“Google has made its case, both publicly and privately,” China’s Minister of Industry and Information Technology, Li Yizhong, said, but did not confirm directly that his ministry was in talks with Google.

Google in January threatened to pull out of China if it could not offer an unfiltered Chinese search engine, after cyber attacks originating from China on it and about 30 other firms.

“If you don’t respect Chinese laws, you are unfriendly and irresponsible, and the consequences will be on you,” Li told reporters, in answer to a question on what China would do if Google.cn simply stopped filtering search results.

Li complimented Google on having reached about 30 percent market share in the Chinese market since it launched google.cn about three years ago, and said it was welcome to expand market share further if it abided by Chinese law.

It was up to Google whether to stay in China’s market or not, he added.

Ministry officials have wavered between confirming and denying that talks are happening at all, in response to repeated media questions during China’s annual legislative session.

“This is really a hot topic, it’s easy and yet not easy to respond. A lot of these matters don’t fall under my ministry, ” Li said.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology shares oversight of the Chinese Internet with a number of other bodies, while still more bureaucracies are involved in matters of foreign investment, complicating the Chinese government’s response to Google’s challenge.

Related: Chinese Minister Insists Google Obey The Law GO
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12
Mar
10

Chinese Minister Insists Google Obey The Law

NEWS
Chinese Minister Insists Google Obey The Law

Friday, March 12, 2010

••• There’s no sign of a compromise between Google and China in their dispute over censorship and hacking.

China’s top Internet regulator says Google must obey its laws or “pay the consequences.”

He gave no details today of Beijing’s talks with Google over its January announcement that it planned to stop complying with Chinese Internet censorship rules and might close its China-based site.

Beijing encourages Internet use for education and business but tries to block access to material deemed subversive or pornographic, including websites abroad run by human rights and pro-democracy activists.

The Chinese official says it’s up to Google whether it leaves or not. But he says “if they leave, China’s Internet market is still going to develop.”

China has the world’s most populous Internet market, with 384 million people online. Google has about 35% of the Chinese search market.

Related: China warns Google as Internet row deal seen soon GO
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09
Mar
10

Cyberwar declared as China hunts for the West’s intelligence secrets

NEWS
Cyberwar declared as China hunts for the West’s intelligence secrets

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Warning Title Urgent warnings have been circulated throughout Nato and the European Union for secret intelligence material to be protected from a recent surge in cyberwar attacks originating in China.

The attacks have also hit government and military institutions in the United States, where analysts said that the West had no effective response and that EU systems were especially vulnerable because most cyber security efforts were left to member states.

Nato diplomatic sources told The Times: “Everyone has been made aware that the Chinese have become very active with cyber-attacks and we’re now getting regular warnings from the office for internal security.” The sources said that the number of attacks had increased significantly over the past 12 months, with China among the most active players.

In the US, an official report released on Friday said the number of attacks on Congress and other government agencies had risen exponentially in the past year to an estimated 1.6 billion every month.

The Chinese cyber-penetration of key offices in both Nato and the EU has led to restrictions in the normal flow of intelligence because there are concerns that secret intelligence reports might be vulnerable.

Sources at the Office for Cyber Security at the Cabinet Office in London, set up last year, said there were two forms of attack: those focusing on disrupting computer systems and others involving “fishing trips” for sensitive information. A special team has been set up at GCHQ, the government communications headquarters in Gloucestershire, to counter the growing cyber-threat affecting intelligence material. The team becomes operational this month.

British and American cyber defences are among the most sophisticated in the world, but “the EU is less competent”, James Lewis, of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said. “The porousness of the European institutions makes them a good target for penetration. They are of interest to the Chinese on issues from arms sales and nuclear non-proliferation to Tibet and energy.”

The lack of routine intelligencesharing between the US and the EU also contributes to the vulnerability of European systems, another analyst said. “Because of Britain’s intelligence-sharing relationship with America our systems have to be up to their standards in a way that some of the European systems don’t,” he explained.

Jonathan Evans, Director-General of MI5, warned in 2007 that several states were actively involved in large-scale cyber-attacks. Although he did not specify which states were involved, security officials have indicated that China now poses the gravest threat. Beijing has denied making such attacks.

Robert Mueller, FBI Director, has warned that, in addition to the danger of foreign states making cyber-attacks, al-Qaeda could in the future pose a similar threat. In a speech to a security conference last week, Mr Mueller said terrorist groups had used the internet to recruit members and to plan attacks, but added: “Terrorists have \ shown a clear interest in pursuing hacking skills and they will either train their own recruits or hire outsiders with an eye towards combining physical attacks with cyber-attacks.”

He said that a cyber-attack could have the same impact as a “well-placed bomb”. Mr Mueller also accused “nation-state hackers” of seeking out US technology, intelligence, intellectual property and even military weapons and strategies.To help to fight the growing threat, the Office of Cyber Security, set up last year as part of the Government’s national security strategy, liaises with America’s so-called cyber czar, Howard Schmidt, who was appointed by President Obama to protect sensitive government computers.

British officials said that everyone in sensitive jobs had been warned to be especially cautious about disseminating intelligence and other classified information. Whether British intelligence is involved in retaliatory attacks is never confirmed. However, officials said that there was a significant difference between being part of an information war and indulging in aggressive attacks to disrupt another country’s computer systems.

Dr Lewis said that neither the US nor any of its Western allies had formed an effective response to the Chinese threat, which has its origins in a massive boost to Chinese technology ordered by Deng Xiaoping, the late Chinese leader, in 1986. The West’s own cyber offensives have so far been directed largely at terrorists rather than nation states, giving China virtually free rein to penetrate Western systems with its own world-class hackers and increasingly popular Chinese-made components. “You almost have to admire them,” Dr Lewis said. “They have been very consistent in their goals.”

Related: Urgent warnings over China cyber attacks GO
Related: Cyber Attacks Becoming More Sophisticated GO

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