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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Imagine that...a corporation willing to sacrifice billions of dollars on principle
Posted by Jill | 4:48 AM
You know, sometimes it seems that Google is getting to be a pretty scary company. They know what you search on, if you have a gmail account they know your correspondence, if you use Blogger they know what you think. Now they even have phones so they can know where you are and what you're doing every single minute. Imagine a company like, say, Blackwater having so much information on so many people.

Imagine a company like, say, Procter & Gamble telling the government of an entire country of billions of people that if it doesn't clean up its act, it can go fuck itself:

Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks of varying degrees on a regular basis. 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. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident--albeit a significant one--was something quite different.

First, this attack was not just on 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 are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities.

Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.

Third, as part of this investigation but independent of the attack on Google, we have discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users' computers.


These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--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, 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 Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.

--Posted by David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer

Don't Be Evil indeed.

(Heh. Underneath the post is a list to all the sites that are linking to the release.)


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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Can anybody here say Bing!?
Somehow I suspect our frinds on Redland will see an opportunity in this. Don't suppose Chinese dissidents use Hotmail.

Blogger Raven Onthill said...
I think there's some self-protection, too, though. If Google runs data centers in China, and China's police agencies assault those data centers security their entire international network is subject to penetration. It's not entirely possible to secure their Chinese data centers against physical break-ins, suborned employees, and so-on.

Still, it's an amazing thing for any business to do.

Blogger jurassicpork said...
Actually, it's more like $300,000,000. I think they're just playing a game of chicken with China and this is just in response to criticism from people like us. There's no nobility in corporations, especially one as rapacious as Google. Don't forget, they've played their part in China's censorship since 2006 with seemingly no problem.

Blogger Jayhawk said...
Actually, Google has shown significant disregard for principle by supporting censorship in China for years. Their threat to withdraw over the hacking of their system is pure self interest.

Good business, and I have no issue with it or with Google. They are a legitimate and non-predatory business. I like their model, the way they treat customers, employees and vendors. But let's not pretend they are better than they are; if they were all that principled they would have left China when that government demanded that they support censorship.

Anonymous mandt said...
But, but, what about all the way cool Twits in China. I mean, like it's soooo annoying.