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Google Hacked and No Longer Willing to Censor Results in China
After hack of email accounts apparently by the govt.
physics




msg:4059450
 11:30 pm on Jan 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

The hack was reportedly highly sophisticated and targeted at Chinese human rights activists.

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered ... 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 ... We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

(emphasis mine)

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/ [googleblog.blogspot.com]

Wow.
My question is: Did Google not know what they were getting into when they got involved with the Chinese government in the first place?

[edited by: tedster at 1:05 am (utc) on Jan. 13, 2010]
[edit reason] switch to permalink [/edit]

 

walkman




msg:4059693
 8:10 am on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Start here: [fool.com...]
[nytimes.com...]
[telegraph.co.uk...]

and see the wonderful world of Putin Inc.

Would you care to remind me exactly which Western property was confiscated by Putin Inc? It's been a few years already and my memory is a little hazy, but I am an avid reader of the world press and I simply don't think there were any. (Yukos, if you're thinking that, was not a Western company).

IanKelley




msg:4059698
 8:27 am on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

USA is not an example of good behavior or "ethical" behavior!

It's pretty much impossible not to disagree with Chinese censorship... But the above is a point that should at least be acknowledged. The US is in no position to talk about ethics.

What does it even have to do with the security incident?

If the Chinese Government really did attempt to hack servers containing private user data, how can Google not respond?

I'm sure Google is ready to pull out (i.e. get firewalled) but they also seem to be offering the Chinese Government an opportunity to rethink their policies here.

selling their soul to Communist China for profits.

Shame on you Google.

Extreme Google hate never ceases to amaze me. Yeah they're a big scary corporation, and yes the implications of where they might be decades in the future are ominous... But here and now they are no worse than other corps I could name (arguably they are a bit better than most). Nor do they have access to significantly more private information than many of same.

Back on topic, capitulating to China was always the primary ammo behind Google hate. Isn't the fact that they are potentially reversing that a good thing?

makemetop




msg:4059714
 9:44 am on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Having some knowledge of the Chinese SEM space, I have watched Baidu's share of search steadily improve despite strong attempts by Google to achieve breakthrough in this important market.

In my opinion, Google has become synonymous with search in the West and it would be highly detrimental to Google's image for people to realise that other search engines can not only effectively compete with them - but can beat them in giant markets.

Rather than have a slew of stories about why Google lost in China (indicating that they are not omnipotent in search), maybe it is better to try and withdraw with head held high on moral grounds (which I am sure some people in Google do believe has always been the right thing to do).

Better to say they are not in China because of censorship restrictions rather than continue to be a second place engine in the largest potential market in the World casting doubts on their ability to maintain their premier postion in other markets.

It backfoots Yahoo and MSN but, as they also have no real marketshare in China - that is purely a PR stunt, IMO.

tenerifejim




msg:4059724
 10:10 am on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

It backfoots Yahoo and MSN

Does anyone think if Google is missing that either of these two companies will gain ground or is Baidu going to eat up the space?

makemetop




msg:4059738
 11:02 am on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Baidu has already eaten up the space! For search, the 2 combined are less than 5% of the market. Only MSN with Bing has an outside chance as it is both new and was developed mainly in China.

jecasc




msg:4059776
 12:17 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Perhaps if the chinese governement simply had asked nicely for the email contents instead of trying to get them by force? Like they did when Yahoo allegedly provided information for the prosecution of journalist Shi Tao.

frontpage




msg:4059801
 1:03 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Breach of copyright or patents is not theft, it is a breach of a government granted monopoly - a very free market thing to do.

Classy.

[edited by: frontpage at 1:07 pm (utc) on Jan. 13, 2010]

geekie




msg:4059804
 1:05 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Way too late Google. So now you can't trust that government but the people of China were supposed to trust censored results when it was good for Google?
Shame on you Google.

My sentiments exactly.

frontpage




msg:4059816
 1:19 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just some numbers on the Chinese internet market. China had as many as 338 million people using the Web as of June 2009.

BNP Paribas' China-based analyst Yvonne Yang estimates the size of China's online advertising market at about 20 billion yuan ($2.93 billion) in 2009, of which the search advertising market was nearly 7 billion yuan.

Google only draws 1% of its revenue from the Chinese market after 4 years of operation. Google's Chinese market share for search in the last quarter was 35.6%.

The current attacks coming from China are targeting Google and 34 companies or entities, most of them in Silicon Valley in California.

The attackers may have penetrated elaborate computer security systems and obtaining crucial corporate data and software source codes.

Brett_Tabke




msg:4059830
 1:54 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Remember the story of the seventeen year old girl who came home from school and told daddy that she was just a little pregnant? Well dear, you are either pregnant or your are not.


I applaud the decision by Google to stop being a party to propping up the dictators in Beijing. However, the insinuation that they are stopping because they got hacked is extremely perplexing and seemingly unrelated. If it is directly related, then I think Google needs to fill in the picture significantly.

Google is insinuating that the Chinese government had something to do with those hacks. What we in the west are tending to forget, is that China also has a thriving business place. There is no reason that a hack against US companies couldn't have come straight from a Chinese competitor. Again, if Google has proof to the contrary, then it should show it's cards. If Google has proof that it was the Chinese government, then they have a duty to present those facts. Otherwise, this is just here say.

So they got hacked. I am sure it isn't the first time or the last time. If they can't take a bloody nose, then they have no business being on the play ground.

I also find it interesting timing. Google is/was bleeding the last week in the court of public opinion. The Gfon launch has brought them a firestorm of controversy and bad press for Google. Additionally, Google has seen more negative stories printed about it in the last three months than in its entire history. Ronald Reagan was often called the most masterful president ever with the press. His various press secretaries have said that part of the strategy was to always have some positive story prepped and in the bag. James Brady said, that "we always kept one in the bag" to counter any negative story that would come out. Interesting timing Google.

makemetop




msg:4059831
 1:56 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

If Google is achieving 35%, it seems to be news to people in China. Though I am not doubting that you may have found these figures as the BBC are saying pretty much the same thing!

Most analysts are reporting a fall in market share for Google with (admittedly biased) Chinese news reports in September 2009 that "Google.cn was the first choice search engine for just 12.7 percent of the users in China at the end August, a significant 3.9 percent drop since last year when it managed 16.6 percent according to data from the China Internet Network Information Center (CINIC), the government domain registration agency. Meanwhile, the local search engine Baidu, which is the market leader in the country, managed to grow by 0.3 percent to reach 77.2 percent of the market."

Now, I wouldn't go that far - but everything I have read from many analysts indicates a fall below 30% in market share and no indication that the fall is slowing.

I would be really interested to see if this trend has been reversed in the last quarter.

encyclo




msg:4059832
 1:56 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

every government spies on every government and USA is not an example of good behavior or "ethical" behavior!

It's pretty much impossible not to disagree with Chinese censorship... But the above is a point that should at least be acknowledged. The US is in no position to talk about ethics.

Attempting to equate the "ethics" of the US and China is to ignore the fact that the PRC government has done much more than a bit of hacking - pushing censorship on search engines to coverup their acts of repression being an obvious example [images.google.cn].

To see how the PRC government has reacted to this news, go and make a few innocuous searches on [baidu.com...] to see how the site works, then go search for the term "googleblog.blogspot.com". Enjoy your lockout. Do other governments do this?

directwheels




msg:4059849
 2:18 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

makemetop:
Rather than have a slew of stories about why Google lost in China (indicating that they are not omnipotent in search), maybe it is better to try and withdraw with head held high on moral grounds (which I am sure some people in Google do believe has always been the right thing to do).

Exactly!

As a communist country, China simply cannot give in on any threats, not to mention this is not even a country, it's just a company. China needs to flex their muscles to show their own people how powerful they are and that their government is worth fearing, which is how they rule. China wouldn't show fear to the US as a country, and will certainly not show fear to this corporation called Google.

If Google is trying to use fear tactics on China, that will certainly backfire. China has Baidu and will probably benefit from Google leaving in the long run by steering more business to a homegrown company. So my prediction is that Google is using this as a excuse to exit China.

whoisgregg




msg:4059850
 2:22 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Why should Google respect Chinese laws if the Chinese government ignores US law?

I didn't mean to imply they should. My point was that Google was okay with the actions of the Chinese government until China targeted Google. Then, suddenly, Google has a moral objection to censorship? That's just... sheisty.

I'm glad Google is taking action, but I'm disappointed at the apparent cause.

weeks




msg:4059852
 2:30 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Brett said:
I applaud the decision by Google to stop being a party to propping up the dictators in Beijing. However, the insinuation that they are stopping because they got hacked is extremely perplexing and seemingly unrelated. If it is directly related, then I think Google needs to fill in the picture significantly.

Yeah.

This is one of those cases where Murphy's Law of journalism comes into play: "Everything you read in the news is true, except those things of which you have first-hand knowledge."

Something more is obviously going on here.

As for those saying that, well, you knew China was a snake (referring to the ol' Johnny Rivers song), I'd respond with, yeah, but in the real world life doesn't offer simple choices. If you do not engage, you have no influence. It's tough. I work in politics and people (i.e., my family) often ask, "How can you support Mr. X or Ms Y?" But, you work with what is there, not what you wish was there. But, sometimes you do have to walk away.

China exists. Ignoring it wasn't going to change that fact. Those here who damn Google for attempting to be a positive force in this part of the world do not live in reality. (I am not a Google lover. I agree they have too much power. But from what I can see, much of Google's early success came from going where others feared to try.)

Google tried to help bring China into the 21st Century. And this move, I suspect, is another "tough love" effort in that direction. It will be interesting to watch what happens.

I'm pleased with all of the press this is getting. China's leadership does not look good here. If you are trying to do business in China, this has got to give you reason to read the contracts a couple of more times. China often likes to pretend they have little interest in what the rest of the world says and does, but I do not see how they can live that way.

maximillianos




msg:4059853
 2:30 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

My point was that Google was okay with the actions of the Chinese government until China targeted Google. Then, suddenly, Google has a moral objection to censorship? That's just... sheisty.

Or, Google had high hopes that China was on the road to changing for the better, perhaps based on false promises... and just now learned it was all a farce.

wheel




msg:4059883
 2:41 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)


Having some knowledge of the Chinese SEM space, I have watched Baidu's share of search steadily improve despite strong attempts by Google to achieve breakthrough in this important market.

In my opinion, Google has become synonymous with search in the West and it would be highly detrimental to Google's image for people to realise that other search engines can not only effectively compete with them - but can beat them in giant markets.

Rather than have a slew of stories about why Google lost in China (indicating that they are not omnipotent in search), maybe it is better to try and withdraw with head held high on moral grounds (which I am sure some people in Google do believe has always been the right thing to do).

Better to say they are not in China because of censorship restrictions rather than continue to be a second place engine in the largest potential market in the World casting doubts on their ability to maintain their premier postion in other markets.

It backfoots Yahoo and MSN but, as they also have no real marketshare in China - that is purely a PR stunt, IMO.


That's my spin on this as well.

If they wanted the high moral ground, they would have not bowed to the Chinese gov't initially. Either the censorship was wrong years ago, or it wasn't. You don't change your moral stance on something this big.

What's changed is that they realized they weren't going to crack the chinese market, and are using other PR nonsense to save face. This is a business decision, and trying to play the moral high card is a stinky thing to do.

iThink




msg:4059896
 3:09 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Despite all the claims and insinuations that these hacks were somehow sanctioned by the Chinese government, I haven't yet seen any direct evidence of this in any of the articles posted around the net.

What do you expect? You want a picture of Chinese Premier or whatever he is called holding a big banner ordering that google must be hacked? Chances are we will never get that.

Chances are that Google's withdrawal from China may have business reasons also but having doubts about the vicious nature of China as a country is like being too naive.

zett




msg:4059927
 3:41 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Better to say they are not in China because of censorship restrictions rather than continue to be a second place engine in the largest potential market in the World casting doubts on their ability to maintain their premier postion in other markets.

Sounds plausible. However, when they pull out (which will happen quickly after they disable the censorship module for China), they are "out" for quite some time. I'd even say - they are out until a new, more open government decides to not censor the Internet any longer.

And this could take a loong time.

Google has proved a lot of times that they are willing to throw money at a pit for a long time if there is the prospect of improvement and sell that story as investment for the future.

By pulling out they clearly admit that they have no future in the Chinese market AT ALL. None whatsoever. Which is a pretty bold statement to make.

They just could have moved on, doing business as usual, maybe put google.cn on holding pattern/maintenance mode. But this is not what they did. Instead, they decided to make a big fuzz out of the hacking attempts?!

Remember even 10% or 12% of Chinese Internet is huge. And while $200m is pocket change to them, it still is money.

So, I am still not getting this. It must be a PR move of sorts to cover up something else that's going on. What may that be?

frontpage




msg:4059932
 3:45 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

The Chinese government are the ones directing the hacking, not individuals. If Google thought they would be immune when the ChinCom's routinely steal military, diplomatic data and commit economic espionage on a massive scale, they were sorely mistaken. The technical term for what is happening is 'comprehensive network exploitation (CNE)'.

Consider these events:

1) "British intelligence officials alerted financial institutions across the country that they were targets of "state-sponsored computer network exploitation" from China."

2) The People's Liberation Army hacked into a computer system in the office of Defense Secretary Robert Gates in June. The attack forced officials to take down the network for more than a week, the report said.

3) . On the eve of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Beijing last week, the weekly Der Spiegel said computers at the Chancellery and three ministries had been infected with so-called Trojans, or spy programs.

The report, which did not specify its sources, said Germany's domestic intelligence agency believed a group of hackers associated with the People's Liberation Army might have been behind the alleged hacking.

4) Hackers from the Chinese province of Guangdong, are thought to have stolen U.S. military secrets, including aviation specifications and flight-planning software.

The U.S. government has coined the term "Titan Rain" to describe the hackers.

"From the Redstone Arsenal, home to the Army Aviation and Missile Command, the attackers grabbed specs for the aviation mission-planning system for Army helicopters, as well as Falconview 3.2, the flight-planning software used by the Army and Air Force," Alan Paller, the director of the SANS Institute, said on Tuesday.

For those who want to know what the Chinese intent is, there is a good write up of the cyber warfare by Northrop Grumman here: [uscc.gov...]

J_RaD




msg:4059947
 4:05 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

was/is google sharing user search traffic data with the chinese gov?

What are they going to do with all the data they've collected on users now they are pulling out?

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4059980
 4:39 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google knew exactly what they were doing when they got into bed with this regime and condoned censorship by doing so. That they did so was nothing short of scandalous as was the "justification" they used at the time.

AFAIC they are not now to be applauded for pulling out.

ChanandlerBong




msg:4059981
 4:40 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

apparently, they're changing their motto to "don't be evil, anymore"

incrediBILL




msg:4059982
 4:45 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

The silly thing here is Google appears to assume it's actions will dissuade or stop the Chinese from attempting to hack Google to access the data they were after in the first place.

I think it'll do just the opposite because now Google itself, and all it's employees, will probably make the "watch" list by making this "activist" move.

Unless Google is willing to physically block China's IPs from accessing their servers, which will only slow them down for a minute, there's not much they can do to stop additional future hacking attempts.

Besides, I'm sure our NSA, CIA, FBI, none of them would do such things would they?

Of course not.

Hacking accounts is so 3rd world and low tech, they just install software to continuously monitor data streams at all the major internet junctions which is undetectable by Google or anyone else ;)

[edited by: incrediBILL at 4:49 pm (utc) on Jan. 13, 2010]

directwheels




msg:4059983
 4:45 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

there seems to be a decent amount of good press about google's move, looks like google is fooling a few people here.

encyclo




msg:4059989
 4:55 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google appears to assume it's actions will dissuade or stop the Chinese from attempting to hack Google to access the data they were after in the first place.

I've seen nothing mentioned by Google which backs up this "assumption", so I'm not sure why you are suggesting it.

google is fooling a few people here

For some people, Google can do no right - even if the action is just, the motives are questioned. But whatever those motives, the final outcome is a positive one.

loudspeaker




msg:4060060
 6:11 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Here's a cynical view:

[neteffect.foreignpolicy.com...]

...
Google was in need of some positive PR to correct its worsening image (especially in Europe, where concerns about privacy are mounting on a daily basis). Google.cn is the goat that would be sacrificed, for it will generate most positive headlines and may not result in devastating losses to Google's business (Google.cn holds roughly 30 percent of the Chinese market).

All the talk about cybersecurity breaches seems epiphenomenal to this plan; it may simply be the easiest way to frame Google's decision without triggering too many "why, oh why?" questions. Besides, there is no better candy for U.S. media and politicians than the threat of an all-out cyber-Armageddon initiated by Chinese hackers. I can assure everyone that at least a half of all discussions that Google's move would spur would be about the need to make America more secure from cyberattacks. No better timing to throw more terrorism-related meat to the U.S. public ("what if they read Obama's email?").
...

Given that the Dept of State is already issuing statements on the matter, I am inclined to believe that.

wheel




msg:4060065
 6:16 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

For some people, Google can do no right - even if the action is just, the motives are questioned. But whatever those motives, the final outcome is a positive one.

I seem to be in that camp these days, though not deliberately.

It's pretty simple. If it's a business decision, then fair game - make a business move, didn't work, retract. I've done that myself.

But if it's being suggested that Google's doing 'good' here, that's nonsense. It was either right or wrong when they started. If this is a moral move then what they are displaying isn't a change of heart, it's displaying a weak moral compass. Doesn't get a lot of respect from me.

encyclo




msg:4060075
 6:28 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

It was either right or wrong when they started.

No, there were plenty of gray areas, as the 2006 justifications published by Google indicated. For Google, doing business in China was not a simple right/wrong, black/white decision, but a series of factors, for and against, in an ever-changing portrait.

a weak moral compass

That phrase is a meaningless soundbite, the kind of crap that politicians spout. We are talking about difficult judgment calls, and there's no point using 20-20 hindsight to criticize earlier decisions.

zett




msg:4060080
 6:31 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

For some people, Google can do no right - even if the action is just, the motives are questioned. But whatever those motives, the final outcome is a positive one.

Well, Google -in this case- can do no right.

Pull out, then they should openly explain why they pull out only now (and why they waited for four years and why they entered in the first place and why they pull out over hacking attempts). Thumbs down.

Stay in (with censorship), then they have lost any and all credibility.

Here's a cynical view

loudspeaker, that's a very good find. That makes a lot of sense, actually. It's a PR stunt to ease on the PR problems in Europe, all the while waiting for the wind of change to reach China, finally. And letting the $200M pass is fine to them, I guess.

frontpage




msg:4060087
 6:36 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Besides, there is no better candy for U.S. media and politicians than the threat of an all-out cyber-Armageddon initiated by Chinese hackers. I can assure everyone that at least a half of all discussions that Google's move would spur would be about the need to make America more secure from cyberattacks. No better timing to throw more terrorism-related meat to the U.S. public ("what if they read Obama's email?").

Whomever wrote that is ignorant about the fact that Bush and Obama don't use email (don't want communications subpoenaed). The Presidential Records Act of 1978, which requires that documents retained by the White House must be released to the public.

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