Tag Archives | censorship

China Denies Google Claims of Beijing Gmail Frame-Up

The tension’s definitely ratcheting up as Google and China trade accusations and denials over who’s responsible for weeks of sluggish Gmail service.

Google recently claimed no foul and blamed China for turning the country’s version of Gmail into a slideshow. The company then took it one further, suggesting the slowdown was “a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail” (though Google didn’t offer technical evidence to illustrate the problem).

As the slowdown continues to morph into an “all but” shutdown, it’s China’s turn to deny. Beijing officially rejected Google’s claims yesterday, its Foreign Ministry spokesperson calling the accusations “unacceptable” at a routine news conference, though that’s all she said.

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Google’s China Move

A little over two months ago, Google declared that it had been the victim of a massive hacker attack originating within China, and had decided as a result that it would no longer participate in government-imposed self-censorship within mainland China. It said it would discuss its next steps with the Chinese government, and while the company hasn’t disclosed the nature of those discussions, we now know their upshot: Google has shut down its censored Chinese version and is now giving mainlanders an uncensored search engine in Simplified Chinese, delivered from its servers in Hong Kong.

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The Internet Spying Problem Back Here

US-China relations have turned contentious over the past several months, particularly in regard to the issue of “Internet freedom.” But neither nation has an unblemished record on Internet privacy, says Eben Moglen, a Columbia University law professor and founder of the Software Freedom Law Center.

Last month, Google declared that it has discovered cyberattacks on its systems targeting Chinese humans rights workers, and made a decision to terminate the censored version of Google in China as a response.

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Bill Gates Defends Chinese Censorship

Now Bill Gates has joined Steve Ballmer in seemingly contending that Chinese censorship of the Internet isn’t that big a deal:

You’ve got to decide: Do you want to obey the laws of the countries you’re in, or not? If not, you may not end up doing business there…

[snip]

The Chinese efforts to censor the Internet have been very limited. It’s easy to go around it, and so I think keeping the Internet thriving there is very important.

You can certainly make the case that by staying in China, U.S. Internet businesses are more likely to bring about greater freedom of expression than if they¬†refuse to abide by censorship laws and abandon the country. And Gates is right that the Great Firewall of China is easy to circumvent. But I’ve used the Internet in China–as, surely, has Bill Gates–and I wouldn’t call the censorship “very limited…”

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More on Google and China

The day’s big tech news continues to be Google’s statement about its discovery of cyberattacks on its systems targeting Chinese human rights workers, and its decision to terminate the censored version of Google in China as a response. Secretary of State Clinton says she looks to the Chinese government for an explanation, and will have more to say on the matter. And James Fallows, who knows more about China than most of us ever will, has some smart–but gloomy–things to say about the matter.

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