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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Google's Iron Curtain: Are Chinese Government Hackers Responsible?

Posted By on Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 6:54 PM

In a monumental statement earlier today, Mountain View based Google announced that they were no longer censoring their search results in China -- and that if the Chinese government did not agree to these non-censored search results this would lead to a Google pull-out.

"We have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was

accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists ... [And have] taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech."

While Google asserts in the post that its actions against China are due to wider humanitarian issues,  Wikileaks, a non-profit website that accepts anonymous submissions and publishes leaks of sensitive information, has provided another possible explanation.

click to enlarge screen_shot_2010_01_12_at_6.11.13_pm.png

The Wikileaks tweet asserts, "Gossip from within is Shanghai office used as CN gov attack stage in US source code network," which means that according to Twitter's most official rumor mill, alleged attempts by the Chinese government to hack into US-based source code via the Shanghai office could be more responsible for today's decision than concern over the gmail accounts of human rights activists. What is particularly interesting about this allegation, is that it brings up the issue of the Google China office being ground zero for those attacks, whether it be from actual employees or people who somehow broke in.


If you believe rumors that last year's attacks against Twitter were orchestrated by the Russian government as well as theory alleging that the Iranian government took a stab at DDoS attacks just recently, it is arguable that what we're watching today is the beginning of Cold War 2.0 -- Government vs. business, battlefield world wide web.

You find out more and follow the story in the new soon-to-be-uncensored Google in China, as well as follow us on Twitter at @alexiat and @sfweekly.

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Alexia Tsotsis


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