Google & China, partners in crime

by coelomic

The freedom enjoyed by a wide open exchange of ideas good or bad is still one of the most remarkable achievements of the Internet. This freedom must be fostered even if it does allow some social misfits to cause security and social problems. A healthy dose of dissent on any subject is a healthy thing in any society. Only if that dissent is going to get someone killed should that dissent be punished.

China is one stonking example of an abuser of the above tenet.

The Chinese market is so big and lucrative that companies will do almost anything to get in and stay there. The Chinese firewall has been built entirely with western help. Here are some of the partners in crime listed below, whose greed for money is so great that they chose not to respect the right to freedom of speech.

To date, China has enacted more than ten national or local laws and regulations which specify information protection as an obligation of network operators, information providers and connected users.

Rupert Murdoch banned the BBC from Star TV, his China satellite network, after the BBC ran reports about human rights in China.

In the mid-1990’s, Chrysler in Beijing refused to rehire a Jeep factory worker who missed
work while locked up for holding a Christian ceremony commemorating Tiananmen.

January 2001: Network Associates Technology, Symantec, and Trend Micro gain entry to the Chinese market by donating 300 live computer viruses to the Public Seurity Bureau–China’s state police–raising Pentagon concerns about China’s information warfare capabilities.

December 2001: A human rights activist accuses Nortel Networks of co-operating with China’s police by enhancing digital surveillance networks and transferring to the Chinese Ministry of State Security technology developed for the FBI.

February 2002: A former Yahoo China executive confirms that the company routinely censors its chat rooms and search functions. Several Chinese engineers claim that, in the late ’90s, Cisco Systems fashioned a “special firewall box” for Chinese authorities to block
web sites.

In 1995, the Clinton administration allowed the PAP to purchase $100 million in Motorola secure radios and cell phones. Documents obtained from the Ron Brown Commerce Department show that in June 1995, then-President Bill Clinton personally OK’d the export of Motorola secure radios and cell phones directly to the PAP with the stroke of his pen on a waiver.

Yahoo hander over the details of a blogger by the name of Shi Tao. A few months later,
Mr. Shi was arrested. In April 2005, he was given 10 years in prison, a sentence the judge called lenient, for disseminating state secrets abroad.

Google and Microsoft have agreed to censor search results of Chinese in return for the ability to operate in China. Ironically Google seems to be putting up a fight to “protect” people’s privacy in the US!

As Becky Hogge says:

It is not only repressive regimes that have an interest in the
censorship of the internet. Technologies now used by the Chinese, like
choke points for packet filtering, were advocated in the 1990s by
rightsholder lobbies in the National Information Infrastructure talks
in the United States. And the acceptance of VoIP as a mainstream
telephony solution has been slowed by the concerns of US and British
security services that conversations cannot be tapped. What the
situation in China demonstrates to techno-libertarians is that they
can no longer rely on John Gilmore’s old maxim: from now on, the
internet may need a little human help routing around the “damage” of
censorship.

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