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A New Approach To China
January 12, 2010 3:39 PM   Subscribe

Official Google Blog: 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 ... ... we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists ... ... 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.
posted by memebake (227 comments total) 74 users marked this as a favorite

 
Am I the only person reeling? Did someone at Google finally remember that whole "don't be evil" thing?
posted by 1adam12 at 3:43 PM on January 12, 2010 [16 favorites]


Well, it'll certainly be interesting to see how this plays out.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:43 PM on January 12, 2010


Google grows a pair! Fantastic. This will be worth watching closely.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 3:44 PM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Nothing snarky comes to mind...
posted by mr. strange at 3:44 PM on January 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well. Holy shit.
posted by rtha at 3:45 PM on January 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


...wow. I'm amazed that Google was willing to admit to the breaches and base their policy going forward on them.
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:45 PM on January 12, 2010


It's surprising and wonderful for a major public company to do this.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:46 PM on January 12, 2010 [15 favorites]


How do you say "fuck this shit" in Mandarin?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:48 PM on January 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


It will be interesting to see what Wall Street thinks of this. If Google is out of China that's going to be a hit to its top and bottom line.
posted by birdherder at 3:48 PM on January 12, 2010


Damn!
posted by vibrotronica at 3:49 PM on January 12, 2010


Needs the Hero tag.
posted by mullingitover at 3:49 PM on January 12, 2010


Lot more interesting than "Will Conan stay or go?"
posted by infinitewindow at 3:49 PM on January 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


Subtext: Chinese government has been hacking into Fortune 100 companies.
Subsubtext: Google finally grew a pair.

Although they make it sound like it was just a couple of gmail users, it goes much deeper internally.
posted by o0o0o at 3:49 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Without copying the whole friggin post, here are key points:
First, this attack was not just on Google....

Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.....

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.....

We 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.....

... We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.
Also, this is a direction from Google execs in the US, not from employees who run Google.cn
posted by filthy light thief at 3:50 PM on January 12, 2010


Am I overly paranoid to be concerned for the welfare of google.cn employees right now?
posted by darksasami at 3:50 PM on January 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


It's already started.
posted by zabuni at 3:51 PM on January 12, 2010 [69 favorites]


Google may be standing up the the mean Chinese government, but they don't really have anything to bargain with - China can just block Google from their country, and the shareholders will be angry. The Chinese government doesn't really lose much, as it would probably rather run its own Google-like services as to better monitor its citizens.
posted by meowzilla at 3:52 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


They will cave on this. Money rules.
posted by dibblda at 3:52 PM on January 12, 2010


About goddamn time.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:52 PM on January 12, 2010


Wow.

What's the catch?
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:52 PM on January 12, 2010


I can't wait for China's response... I'm betting they ratchet it up.
posted by rosswald at 3:53 PM on January 12, 2010


They have turned the censorship of Google.cn off with immediate effect it would seem:

http://www.google.cn/search?q=falun+gong

Thats pretty impressive. How long till China blocks them?
posted by memebake at 3:54 PM on January 12, 2010


as it would probably rather run its own Google-like services as to better monitor its citizens

Well, Baidu is in pretty tight with the Chinese government, so I think they're already there.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:54 PM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


So, were Gmail accounts hacked through Google internally somehow? Or were their separate attacks on gmail and on google itself?
posted by graventy at 3:54 PM on January 12, 2010


So, wait, they were fine with the behavior of the Chinese government up until now, but suddenly because they're personally affected they've decided to retaliate by taking their ball and going home? Excuse me if I don't see this as Google finally standing up for truth, justice and the American Way.

First off, I don't think many in the PRC will care. Google is pretty far behind Baidu and other Chinese companies in their share of the domestic market.

Second, this might be a good business decision by Google as well -- they've been plowing millions upon millions into China and have little to show for it. They've been outcompeted by Chinese companies for various reasons (some cultural, some legal, and a few technical), and it might just be time to throw in the towel.
posted by xthlc at 3:54 PM on January 12, 2010 [15 favorites]


Every once in a while the world resembles a late 80s cyberpunk novel in a good way.
posted by The Whelk at 3:54 PM on January 12, 2010 [66 favorites]


I don't know, I found the justification that a censored Google presence in China might have done more for the flow of open information than Google's absence plausible. If that's true, this could be a loss (and in fact, the conspiratorially minded part of me wonders if this isn't a cover for a somehow involuntary pullout).

On the other hand, though: Google's brand is powerful enough that it'd seem to me most people believe will something bad about a country they choose to abandon.

Wonder how the Chinese state will spin this and how the average citizen there will perceive it.
posted by weston at 3:55 PM on January 12, 2010


What's the betting Wall Street will "punish" Google for this? Anyone else expect to see Google's shares take a major hit tomorrow?
posted by kcds at 3:56 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


GOOG is down 10 points in after-hours trading, who knows what tomorrow will hold. Of course, GOOG dropped after the Nexus One release too.
posted by GuyZero at 3:58 PM on January 12, 2010


Google shares will definitely take a hit tomorrow, unfortunately.
Which is kindof interesting in itself.
posted by memebake at 3:58 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if goodwill and good karma are enough of a motivating factor for Google, but their next step should be a Google Labs project aimed at circumventing China's inevitable blackout. Raise a big middle finger at censorship with a network of Google-branded proxy servers and an easy-to-use client to make them available to the masses.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 3:58 PM on January 12, 2010 [30 favorites]


I wish Google well in this. I also hope their leadership have a plan for standing up to inevitable shareholder backlash.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:58 PM on January 12, 2010


Google is pretty far behind Baidu and other Chinese companies in their share of the domestic market.

It's not about market share, it's about Chinese knowing that they can get uncensored results in Google, followed by Google suddenly being disappeared from the Great Firewall of China.

Even then, it's still significant, since the GFOC is, by all reports, quite leaky--anyone with any saavy knows how to get around the GFOC.
posted by fatbird at 4:00 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


well I'll be.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:01 PM on January 12, 2010


The founders did publish this in their IPO letter:

"If opportunities arise that might cause us to sacrifice short term results but are in the best long term interest of our shareholders, we will take those opportunities. We will have the fortitude to do this. We would request that our shareholders take the long term view."
posted by GuyZero at 4:01 PM on January 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


For the cynical here, there is a practical reason for Google doing this: the most effective tool they have is bad publicity for the PRC. Publicly outing them as hacking gmail accounts of human rights activists will embarrass them and cause at least a brief cessation of hack attempts, I'd imagine.
posted by fatbird at 4:02 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder how carefully they calculated the economic aspect of this. I suspect, that short term at least, actually google is not losing much by being shut out of the Chinese market. The Chinese government has been pretty blatant in favoring home-grown rivals such as baidu, and crippling google through various ways. Meanwhile, the expenses google was running were huge. It's entirely possible that google was actually losing money on China. They stuck there, because in time, the situation may change and you don't want to be locked out of a market that large - so you lose money for the sake of name recognition at the very least (sort of like IKEA does), hoping that one day it'll pay off. A bigger loss may be access to the human talent pool in China, which is huge - there are tons of great and hard working engineers there. But that's all long term, and in a strict dollars and cents sense, this may not hurt Google short term at all - possibly quite the opposite.
posted by VikingSword at 4:03 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is my nature; see also: you knew what I was when you picked me up.
posted by TedW at 4:03 PM on January 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Watching an INFOWAR in realtime.

Welcome to the future... Cyberpunk.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 4:05 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well when the stock dip occurs Google can always say "we told you so," as their IPO came with a warning that they might not always optimize for immediate profit. I don't think they are hurting so badly for money that a blip in capitalization will seriously affect them, and the PR from this in the west will be very good.
posted by localroger at 4:05 PM on January 12, 2010


Subtext: Chinese government has been hacking into Fortune 100 companies.

Wall Street already does business with China and the country treats its workers even worse than the US does. It seems unsurprising that shareholders don't care too much that the Chinese government is breaking and entering into corporate networks.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:05 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I also hope their leadership have a plan for standing up to inevitable shareholder backlash.

I have this image of Larry and Sergey sitting on a pile of cash. They're wearing KISS makeup, surrounded by strippers in chainmail. Flames and dragons. And a caption reading "Bring it, bitches."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:05 PM on January 12, 2010 [21 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell: "How do you say "fuck this shit" in Mandarin?"

Google Translate says it's 他妈的这狗屎 (tā mā de zhè gǒu shǐ). But when I translate it back, it says it means "Damn that dog feces". Not literally right, but the spirit's in the right place.
posted by Plutor at 4:06 PM on January 12, 2010 [23 favorites]


Every six months or so Google seems to roll out something completely unexpected ... this is my favourite so far.
posted by memebake at 4:08 PM on January 12, 2010


[Tweaked the post formatting slightly. Paragraph-long hyperlinks are hard to read.]
posted by cortex at 4:08 PM on January 12, 2010


Of course, GOOG dropped after the Nexus One release too.

That's not surprising. 'Buy on the rumor, sell on the news' type trading also causes Apple stock to fall after every product release, for example.

Still, falling almost 2% in after hours trading seems a little silly. What percentage of Google's profit comes from google.cn? My guess is not very much; probably less than 2%. Were I a stock holder, what I would want to know is whether this is going to affect Google's ability to serve ads across the Great Firewall and the breakdown in revenue from ads on pages and ads on search results. It's entirely possible most of their revenue from Chinese browsers can stay in place even if they stop offering local services.
posted by jedicus at 4:11 PM on January 12, 2010


World's largest advertising company is last line of defence for free speech? for real?!?!
posted by davemee at 4:12 PM on January 12, 2010 [14 favorites]


Wish they'd done this from the start, but far better late than never. The Evil advisory system is currently green; low risk of evil. Cheers!
posted by breath at 4:13 PM on January 12, 2010


GOOG is down 10 points in after-hours trading

That doesn't seem terribly significant, seeing that they were down that much during normal trading today, just because Wall St. had a down day. What is significant however is that Baidu is up 25 (6%) after having a down day as well.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:14 PM on January 12, 2010


Google grows a pair!

Almost my exact thoughts ["Google grows some 'nads," FWIW].

Most of the first few comments summed up the rest of my thoughts. I've got nothing to add.

Am I the only person reeling?

Well, it'll certainly be interesting to see how this plays out.

Well. Holy shit.

posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:19 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Glad.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:20 PM on January 12, 2010


They have turned the censorship of Google.cn off with immediate effect it would seem

Does anybody know if these searches worked yesterday? Does google.cn only filter results for Chinese IP addresses?

If google actually did just turn off censorship without telling the Chinese government, then that is really impressive. I hope no Google China employees were involved, though, in case the government attempts to make examples of them...
posted by jsonic at 4:21 PM on January 12, 2010


I've hoped to see the Google-China thing end sooner than later. Google had very little foresight when deciding they would enter China after agreeing to certain concessions to the government. What they did not address in that discussion was how they would respond to government demands after being so heavily invested in China that they could not afford to simply pull out.
posted by troybob at 4:21 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Chinese infowar guys are getting really, really good. They didn't just go after Google, they succeeded, at least to some degree.

The compromise could also be deeper than we or Google realize. They caught them this time around, but that doesn't mean they've noticed every successful attempt.
posted by Malor at 4:23 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would love to read more about the hack details. Last I heard China was using custom-written forged PDF exploits to take over the desktops of Tibetan activists.
posted by benzenedream at 4:24 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow. I'm genuinely surprised, and really quite touched, to see a multinational company do this.

It's a very stark reminder to me how we tend to excuse or more likely ignore a host of ethical and moral crimes as simply 'the cost of doing business' - so much so that when someone is unwilling to bear that cost is feels quite shocking.

Good on them, I would love to see more companies (including my own employer) introduce some ethics like this to their operations.
posted by smoke at 4:27 PM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Some "gossip" about this on Wikileaks' Twitter account. (Most recent 4 tweets, as of this moment.)
posted by nostrich at 4:28 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


in case the government attempts to make examples of them

It's China; they'll just walk out the door and hey presto, Baidu magically happens to hire them. Pure coincidence, really.
posted by aramaic at 4:28 PM on January 12, 2010


Metafilter: Damn that dog feces
posted by vibrotronica at 4:29 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]



zabuni, in English this comes up with the spelling slightly off, and the normal spelling doesn't get anything quite so remarkable although a few pictures seem to have slipped through.

There were lots of gmail accounts apparently hacked on Christmas Day and that weekend from Chinese IP addresses and used to send spam. Not sure if this kind of activity might also have some minimal effect on how much Google cares about access from China.
posted by dilettante at 4:29 PM on January 12, 2010


Impressive stuff. I'm liking my Android phone a whole lot more and I already liked it a LOT.
posted by Skygazer at 4:31 PM on January 12, 2010


Justh thinming - Even if Google is uncensored now, wont the Great Firewall Of China spot the keywords and censor the search results anyway?
posted by memebake at 4:32 PM on January 12, 2010


This is so amazingly like Snow Crash I can hardly believe it.

Waiting for the official merger of the CIA and Google.
posted by lattiboy at 4:32 PM on January 12, 2010


Very interesting!
posted by Wolof at 4:33 PM on January 12, 2010


Am I overly paranoid to be concerned for the welfare of google.cn employees right now?

Stern Hu.

He and his company are saying: just normal research, negotiations, due diligence etc.
China is saying: spying and bribery.
Subtext is: Aussies pulled out of a major deal at the last moment and China lost face. Someone had to pay.

Which is why you're not being paranoid, IMO.

posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:34 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's already started.

Excuse my language but Holy CRAP! Shivers are going up my spine, can anything in media match this web crack-cocaine real time hit of information? Images of the Tianamen Square Tank Man already beng disseminated into google.cn.

It will be interesting to see how other tech companies (IBM, HP, Intel, MS) are going to respond to this and how the state department will address this.

Also I hope the Chinese don't take revenge on google.cn employees as that could mean executions.

Obviously Google is not messing around and I applaud these actions.
posted by Skygazer at 4:41 PM on January 12, 2010


Impressive stuff. I'm liking my Android phone a whole lot more and I already liked it a LOT.

Good point, skygazer. As Google tries to acquire more and more companies and contemplates facing anti-trust actions of the sort that have handicapped Microsoft in Europe, I'm not sure that this is a bad business move, at all.

As a company that aspires to have access to everyone's information of all kinds, cooperating with governments like China's also had an appreciable, if unquantifiable, cost. If Google were to have continued to become increasingly seen as an accessory to these sorts of violations of privacy and human rights, it would have tended to erode the goodwill that Google has in the past counted on among both consumers and regulatory agencies.

Google isn't so much falling on its sword for the sake of freedom as it is protecting its brand. Or, maybe, a little of both. I'm glad, though, in any case.
posted by washburn at 4:41 PM on January 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


A fairly average movie, but for some damn reason this quote never left me:

There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think... it's all about the information!

The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes, little bits of data. It's all just electrons.

posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:43 PM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm excited to see this move on Google's part. The agreement to censor google.cn never sat well with anyone. But I'm still trying to figure out the reciprocity here. Why does detecting Chinese government hackers mean Google no longer justifies censoring Google search results? Was there some implicit quid pro quo that Google's censoring search results meant that the Chinese government wouldn't invade the privacy of Google users?

I think there's a bigger story going on here. From everything I've read doing business in China is difficult, requires a strong local presence to ensure good treatment from the government. Baidu has had that privileged position for years. I wonder if Google's just given up getting that position themselves? I also wonder if Google does have some leverage here, something that may force the Chinese government to capitulate in some way. Seems unlikely.
posted by Nelson at 4:43 PM on January 12, 2010


China: You can play in my yard if you pull my sister's hair and make her scream.
Google: I'm not going to do that. That would be evil.
China: Then you can't play in my yard.
Google: That's a shame, you have a really big yard.
China: One little shriek of humiliation, is that too much to ask?
Google: Why don't you pull her hair yourself?
China: She's on to me.
Google: There might be a reason for that.
China: Tell you what, you can play in my yard if you tell her I won't pull her hair.
Google: That would be lying.
China: She'd believe you, you're the do no evil guy.
Google: And would you pull her hair?
China: *whistles*
Google: Well?
China: Do you want to know, or do you want to play in my yard?
Google: *deep sigh* Okay, I can do that.
China: OK, there she is, go tell her it's safe to turn her back on me and we're all set.
Google: All right. *turns back to China*
China: *raises baseball bat to knock Google's head off*
Google: By the waAAHT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?
China: Oh, I thought we were over that whole "evil is bad" thing.
posted by localroger at 4:44 PM on January 12, 2010 [36 favorites]


Man, I hope gemmy drops into this thread.
posted by boo_radley at 4:45 PM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Perhaps they've decided that potential profits were less important than that whole "Don't be evil" thing.

Okay, probably not. But I still give them credit for coming around to the right decision, even if it took a while.
posted by chrisamiller at 4:45 PM on January 12, 2010


Aww. It works too well in Japanese.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:47 PM on January 12, 2010


Man does this throw off my internal ethical compass
posted by trojanhorse at 4:47 PM on January 12, 2010


Was there some implicit quid pro quo that Google's censoring search results meant that the Chinese government wouldn't invade the privacy of Google users?

I read it more as "we made a good faith effort to ignore some little things and play ball by their rules. They still insist on doing even more bad things. So screw it, we're taking our ball and going home."
posted by chrisamiller at 4:48 PM on January 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


. I don't think they are hurting so badly for money that a blip in capitalization will seriously affect them

A blip in the share price won't change how much money they have at all -- they've already sold those shares, they don't get any more if X sells GOOG to Y. It can have other effects, but market capitalization isn't that important to Google right now.

And, you know, down $10 sounds bad, until your realize the share price is now *only* $590 (and down to $582 in after hours trading.) A $10 hit here isn't going to hurt anybody but short term buyers. They lost -1.77% yesterday, but the NASDAQ as a whole was -1.33%, and the whole markets were off yesterday and are continuing to drop now.

A sagging tide grounds all boats, after all.
posted by eriko at 4:48 PM on January 12, 2010


Although it does explain some things with Google's mission statement.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:48 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


What does google do to limit the US government from accessing personal information?
posted by Chuckles at 4:56 PM on January 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


NY times:
A United States expert on cyber warfare said that 34 companies were targeted, most of them high-technology companies in Silicon Valley. The attacks came from Taiwanese Internet addresses, according to James Mulvenon, an expert on Chinese cyberwarfare capabilities.

Mr. Mulvenon said that the stolen documents were sent electronically to a server controlled by Rackspace, based in San Antonio.

“For Google to pull up stakes and basically pull out China, the attack must have been large in scope and very penetrating,” Mr. Mulvenon said. “This attack highlights the fact that cyberwarfare has basically gone to the next level.”
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:57 PM on January 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


What does google do to limit the US government from accessing personal information?

Actually, they're known to have a pretty close working relationship with U.S. intelligence agencies.
posted by killdevil at 4:58 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


>>It's already started.

It's been established that searches on Google.cn for misspellings (or alternate spellings) of "Tiananmen" return uncensored results. If you click on the "您是不是要找: tiananmen square" (Did you mean...), you'll see that the censorship is still in place.
posted by ctab at 5:05 PM on January 12, 2010 [11 favorites]


The Chinese try to keep a lid on the box and I ran, I ran so far away.
posted by tellurian at 5:07 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wish I could say that this was going to change anything in China. But the fact remains that over the past 60 years, the Communist Chinese government has raised the general standard of living in China from medieval to almost 21st-century level. The Chinese people are, by and large, deeply, deeply grateful for this and deeply patriotic to boot.

Asking if this will change anything politically in China is like asking if a Turkish search engine pulling out of the USA would endanger the Obama administration. Chances are: few of us would even notice, and fewer of us would even care.
posted by Avenger at 5:12 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


killdevil: what sort of proof do you have to that allegation?
posted by kdar at 5:14 PM on January 12, 2010


Please, don't worry about Google China employees. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a handful of employee responsible for this. The rest would likely be spared, they had nothing to do with this.

It's fairly obvious that this was an inside attack from an employee who was likely a government agent. The corporate freakout would explain why they handled it so publicly (with very blunt PR) as well as their confidence of the source. A vague attack from IPs from China, no one with any experience on the internet would trust its source to be a government agent. The only possibility would be a physical attack.

I suspect that their China offices was infiltrated through several employees and corporate found out about it and subsequently freaked the hell out. No one only makes these kinds of attacks for shutting down human rights activists. I bet the real reason the Google execs freaked was because they also stole Google technology.

The human rights angle is just a cover, if it was only about that, they'd handle it with a lot more calm and behind-the-scenes. This kind of public take-our-toys-home can only be explained if the Chinese government tried to take their technology to give to Baidu.
posted by amuseDetachment at 5:15 PM on January 12, 2010 [18 favorites]


killdevil: Actually, they're known to have a pretty close working relationship with U.S. intelligence agencies.

Citation needed.
posted by Nelson at 5:19 PM on January 12, 2010


Google's Enterprise Blog has more on the attack vector:
This was not an assault on cloud computing. It was an attack on the technology infrastructure of major corporations in sectors as diverse as finance, technology, media, and chemical. The route the attackers used was malicious software used to infect personal computers. Any computer connected to the Internet can fall victim to such attacks. While some intellectual property on our corporate network was compromised, we believe our customer cloud-based data remains secure.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:20 PM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


jenkinsEar:
Oh, that makes it easy to see that human rights wasn't the only thing they were after:
It was an attack on the technology infrastructure of major corporations in sectors as diverse as finance, technology, media, and chemical.
posted by amuseDetachment at 5:22 PM on January 12, 2010


Finally, Twitter has someone to blame for their uptime.
posted by ooga_booga at 5:22 PM on January 12, 2010


The Chinese people are, by and large, deeply, deeply grateful for this and deeply patriotic to boot.

I'm not disagreeing with you, per se, but you really should modify that to: "The Chinese people who are middle and upper class that we tend to see on the internet and in the media in the west are, by and large, deeply, deeply grateful for this and deeply patriotic to boot."

I'm not saying there aren't plenty of grateful peasants, but we rarely see or hear about the innumerable protests and grievances that occur in China on a daily basis.

The country is far more diverse in this regard than it is widely given credit for.
posted by smoke at 5:26 PM on January 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


This really has nothing to do with censorship. Google just doesn't want to operate in a country where the government is actively trying to compromise their security.

Would you?
posted by Afroblanco at 5:34 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The country is far more diverse in this regard than it is widely given credit for.

Good point. There is an entire universe of a billion people in that country, with 56 recognized ethnic groups.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:39 PM on January 12, 2010


他妈的这狗屎

他妈的 = his mother('s) - AFAIK the subtext is fuck his mother. It's used as a shorthand for the English "fuck" expletive as well. It literally translates as yo momma this dog feces, which isn't really accurate.

Also: regardless of whether or not this is a cynical calculation from Google, the fact that any large company openly, albeit politely, asks the Chinese market to fuck right off due to censorship and brazen impropriety is a good thing.

China truly does believe it can get away with anything (much like this other country we know about). Funny how that works.
posted by flippant at 5:39 PM on January 12, 2010


They changed the 10 guiding principles, which I recall as ending with Don't Be Evil. I liked it better the old way.

This piece of news gives me a brief flash of optimism, badly needed.
posted by theora55 at 5:42 PM on January 12, 2010


This is pretty incredible.

But. Google hasn't done very well in China. They're getting their asses kicked by Baidu. So their operations in China probably don't do them much good to outweigh the P.R. problems.

And of course, Google probably dosn't have much a problem turning data over to the U.S. Government. After all this is Eric "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." Schmidt we're talking about.

So I wonder how much of this is just a convenient excuse for getting out of an unprofitable market.
posted by delmoi at 5:42 PM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Google probably dosn't have much a problem turning data over to the U.S. Government

Again, citation needed. Here's one counterexample.
posted by Nelson at 5:47 PM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Other than the feel good factor by Westerners, what practical good does this move achieve? (Not intended as snark but an honest question.)

With Google.cn no longer filtering results for certain articles relating to, paraphrasing, certain "cults" and for "sensitive material routinely exploited by outside forces for political reasons", the immediate reaction is to simply block Google.cn en whole or against certain search URLs. Followed by a loud round of condemnation in the all the major media about foreign interference. And AFAIK, the working relationship between Google and the CCP was only to filter certain topics, there was no active sharing of user data like Yahoo.

If it was indeed orchestrated or funded by a CCP branch, the net effect is no loss to them. Or if it was band of particularly patriotic fanqing, no loss to them either. So it seems to me that the only group affected are the users who do use Google.cn, trying to avoid Baidu (who is well known to manipulate its search results for a much larger number of terms).
posted by tksh at 5:52 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


ObTinFoilHat: Timing is perfect to distract from news stories about bad Nexus One customer service.

I can't read quarterly reports to save my life. Do they break out revenue by country or region? It would be interesting to see the immediate cost to Google of pulling out of China.
posted by Slothrup at 5:53 PM on January 12, 2010


China hacking into activists' accounts is about as shocking as Mark McGwire using steroids. This is an interesting, and good, move, but as in the McGwire case, it seemed easy enough to ignore or waver around the truth for a good long time.
posted by cmgonzalez at 5:58 PM on January 12, 2010


1. Try the Chinese market
2. Fail
3. Take a stand
posted by Moistener at 5:58 PM on January 12, 2010 [11 favorites]


So.

I've read the blog post a few times, and I just can't see the point where they make the connection between the attack on activists' information and their up-and-leaving China.

And I definitely don't understand why turning off the censorship helps prevent further attacks on the activists or any other party.

The between-the-lines in this is that Google has evidence that it's the Chinese government that is producing the attacks?

What is going on here?

Am I missing some crucial bit of information that makes it painfully obvious? Have I momentarily forgotten how to read?
posted by pokermonk at 5:59 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nelson: "Citation needed."

It's people like you what kill Wikipedia. You wanna refute something, do it. This "citation needed" crap is banal smuggery, even when justified.
posted by boo_radley at 6:00 PM on January 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


A fairly average movie

YOU BITE YOUR TONGUE.
posted by inigo2 at 6:04 PM on January 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


It's people like you what kill Wikipedia. You wanna refute something, do it. This "citation needed" crap is banal smuggery, even when justified.

Okay, so how do you refute the statement that "Google probably doesn't have much a problem turning data over to the U.S. Government"? Besides providing counterexamples, as Nelson did.
posted by inigo2 at 6:05 PM on January 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


I've been thinking about buying some Google stock. This sounds like the perfect opportunity, especially if the rest of the market is freaking out about the Google missing out on the huge Chinese propaganda machine market.
posted by alms at 6:07 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


pokermonk:

Here's what wikileaks is saying on twitter:

Gossip from within google.cn is Shanghai office used as CN gov attack stage in US source code network.
about 2 hours ago from bit.ly

gossip inside google China is gov hackers found infiltrating google source code repository; gmail attacks an old issue.
about 2 hours ago from bit.ly


Basically, my sense is that google made a deal with the devil to get into china; when they found the Chinese goverment was deliberately attacking them to go after dissidents and industrial secrets, the deal became untenable.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:08 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


You wanna refute something, do it. This "citation needed" crap is banal smuggery, even when justified.

The argument from ignorance is a fallacy. (Somewhat appropriately, that page has all sorts of [citation needed] all over it.) People who want to claim something should be able to back it up with more than demands of refutation.
posted by grouse at 6:09 PM on January 12, 2010 [19 favorites]


It's people like you what kill Wikipedia. You wanna refute something, do it. This "citation needed" crap is banal smuggery, even when justified.

citation needed.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:10 PM on January 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


I honestly don't know where I'd put my money on a Google vs China cyberwar.
posted by Skorgu at 6:11 PM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


How do you say "fuck this shit" in Mandarin?
Something like Gan zhe shi or Da zhe shi, I think? The word for "shit" is
Google Translate says it's 他妈的这狗屎 (tā mā de zhè gǒu shǐ). But when I translate it back, it says it means "Damn that dog feces". Not literally right, but the spirit's in the right place.
"Ta Ma de" mean's "his mother's" Maybe that's an idiom for "damn" or something. But "Gan" is usually what people say for "fuck"... I think. It's not a swearword, though.
It's already started.
If you search for the the name in Chinese you do get different results. But that's mostly because Tiananmen square is just a tourist attraction for most people.
So, were Gmail accounts hacked through Google internally somehow? Or were their separate attacks on gmail and on google itself?
It sounds like they failed, but managed to individually hack a few accounts by sending Trojans or something. There was a post on metafilter by someone working on human rights on China, talking about how they would constantly get infected PDFs and stuff.
GOOG is down 10 points in after-hours trading
Google is down $6.68, out of almost $600. That's about 1.13%. They were down $10 over the day, and the market was down across the board.
posted by delmoi at 6:12 PM on January 12, 2010


It is my nature; see also: you knew what I was when you picked me up.

I heard that story for the first time about two years ago. I reckon I've heard it a dozen times since. Not sure if it's suddenly become a meme, or if heard and REMEMBERED it for the first time about two years ago, or if it's just one of those things.

Whatever. Great parable.

posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:13 PM on January 12, 2010


What I meant is that the tone's ridiculous, you clods. Of course you knew that, but I got the retarded internet primer on logic anyway. Thank you, thank you, thank you Metafilter for responding to a criticism about kneejerk smugness with kneejerk smugness. NEVER CHANGE.
posted by boo_radley at 6:19 PM on January 12, 2010


And I definitely don't understand why turning off the censorship helps prevent further attacks on the activists or any other party.
It sounds like it's a big "fuck you" on the way out the door. Very "un-corporate" behavior. Maybe they just want to embarrass their competitors.
posted by delmoi at 6:21 PM on January 12, 2010


What I meant is that the tone's ridiculous, you clods.

Then you should have said that (perhaps without the "you clods" since you are trying to raise the standard of discourse, after all), because that's not the message you got across.
posted by grouse at 6:25 PM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


You're right, the "citation needed" is obnoxious and smug. Let me state what I was saying directly.

Twice, in this discussion, people have accused Google of being willing to give data up inappropriately to US authorities. The implication being Google doesn't care about its users' privacy or is actively working with US government authorities in some nefarious way. That's a serious charge, one I'm very interested in. If it's true I'd genuinely like to see some evidence.

But please don't just come in and make some statement about Google in the US if you have no evidence or citation. It's just hand-wavy FUD that detracts from the discussion here. This story, the one in front of us, the undisputed one that Google has just reversed a very tenuous policy of censorship in China.
posted by Nelson at 6:26 PM on January 12, 2010 [15 favorites]


Did someone at Google finally remember that whole "don't be evil" thing?

When they start respecting authors' copyright, we'll be able to answer "yes." Until then, not so much.
posted by Dasein at 6:32 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pollyanna theory: Google was playing some sort of political rope-a-dope with China - knowing that never existing as far as the average Chinese citizen was concerned afforded them no platform or power, they compromised until they could get in the door, and now that they have enough share there they use it as a crowbar to pry open some eyes.

I don't believe this theory, understand, I just like it.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:34 PM on January 12, 2010


If it's true I'd genuinely like to see some evidence.

From a simple Google (OH! TEH IRONING!) search
posted by qvantamon at 6:36 PM on January 12, 2010


Twice, in this discussion, people have accused Google of being willing to give data up inappropriately to US authorities. The implication being Google doesn't care about its users' privacy or is actively working with US government authorities in some nefarious way. That's a serious charge, one I'm very interested in. If it's true I'd genuinely like to see some evidence.

Well, the evidence is that other major companies have done the same thing. All the phone companies have allowed "dragnet" style mass wiretapping. Yahoo sells account information for $30 to government. Sprint has given up location information 8 million times. Why wouldn't Google do these things too?

This isn't a court room, and we can't do discovery. Unless someone screws up or snitches these things stay secret. What makes Google different from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Yahoo, and other companies that you think they're not turning over data?
posted by delmoi at 6:37 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


If it's true I'd genuinely like to see some evidence.

From a simple Google (OH! TEH IRONING!) search


Well, that link just went to another evidence-free insinuation...
posted by wildcrdj at 6:38 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


This isn't a court room, and we can't do discovery. Unless someone screws up or snitches these things stay secret. What makes Google different from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Yahoo, and other companies that you think they're not turning over data?

Google has said they will comply with federal court orders, and obviously has done so in the past (plenty of articles on that). The claim above seemed to be insinuating something more shadowy, which I haven't seen anyone post actual evidence of.
posted by wildcrdj at 6:40 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


About time they grew some. I think this year google turns what, 12? 13? The boy will have to switch section in the choir, in a while.

Also, turn on the Gemmy signal!
posted by _dario at 6:42 PM on January 12, 2010


"Ta Ma de" mean's "his mother's" Maybe that's an idiom for "damn" or something. But "Gan" is usually what people say for "fuck"... I think. It's not a swearword, though.

他媽的 does indeed "fucking" as in if you wanted to say "Where are my fucking socks?" you would say 我他媽的襪子在哪裡?

屎 means shit, but only in the purely scatological sense. 屎 isn't used to swear. You should think of this word more like excrement or manure. Also, my favorite use of this character is 眼屎, which is literally "eye shit," or that crusty that gets in your eye from an infection.
posted by alidarbac at 6:43 PM on January 12, 2010


Adobe confirms 'sophisticated, coordinated' breach. It's not clear if it is or is not related to Google's issues but the timing is suspicious.
posted by Skorgu at 6:44 PM on January 12, 2010


Google has said they will comply with federal court orders, and obviously has done so in the past (plenty of articles on that). The claim above seemed to be insinuating something more shadowy, which I haven't seen anyone post actual evidence of.

Yeah.

The problem privacy nuts have with aggregators of personal information (like Google) isn't that they'll willingly sell us out to the government. It's that -- even with the best of intentions -- they're subject to whatever orders someone can get through the federal courts. Or more ominously, to those "national security letters" we keep hearing about. It would probably be illegal for the federal government to collect the kind of data that Google keeps about me. But by virtue of Google collecting it, the federal government can acquire access with just [classified] amounts of effort.
posted by Slothrup at 6:46 PM on January 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


It sounds like China's government was attempting to grab Google's private source code, Google said AW HELL NO and the rest of this is window dressing. However, it's kind of a genius move for Google, since it puts their competition under the spotlight. Will Yahoo and Microsoft follow suit?
posted by mullingitover at 6:46 PM on January 12, 2010


Gossip from within google.cn is Shanghai office used as CN gov attack stage in US source code network.

I wonder if the hackers used Google IPs to spoof the Googlebot to gain access to other companies' source code repositories, at least as an intermediary step. I can see how Google could see that as a provocation for going nuclear... widespread fear about Google's security might lead publishers to restrict access to Google's spider. The fact that a Chinese office was the vector also suggests that the CCP might have physically compromised their facilities.
posted by Gnarly Buttons at 6:47 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, that link just went to another evidence-free insinuation..

I meant to post that as "people in this thread are not just pulling that theory out of their asses, there is a widespread rumor about that with actual specific (albeit unproven) accusations flying around". Basically, not a citation that proves the allegations, but a citation to show where they're coming from.
posted by qvantamon at 6:49 PM on January 12, 2010


So basically Google was willing to go along with the censorship the Chinese government required in order to do business there, but once the Chinese government acted in bad faith and went hacking them behind their back in order to go after dissidents, Google called off the deal.
I wonder what the fallout will be.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:52 PM on January 12, 2010


When they start respecting authors' copyright, we'll be able to answer "yes." Until then, not so much.

Truer words were never spoken. Yeah, its great that you're standing up to those who torture their dissidents, but that doesn't come CLOSE to making up for.. wait, copyright issues? Being insufficiently in line with the controversial and arguably unconstitutionally long copyright issue is more a sign of evilness than...

oh, forget it.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 6:54 PM on January 12, 2010 [11 favorites]


But I'm still trying to figure out the reciprocity here. Why does detecting Chinese government hackers mean Google no longer justifies censoring Google search results? Was there some implicit quid pro quo that Google's censoring search results meant that the Chinese government wouldn't invade the privacy of Google users?

From my perspective, this is right. There was a an implicit quid pro quo that had its basis on respect of the rule of law.

Google has a target on it's back because of the whole "don't be evil" thing," but the truth is they have been one of the best Corporate actors in the Chinese internet business and they have been punished for it.

As opposed to Microsoft and Yahoo, who will do anything the CCP asks them to, all google does is censor searches made through google.cn and it puts up a message notifying the user that there search has been modified. Searches made through google.com are not censored by the company, but are blocked rather clumsily by the great firewall of China. Google has not offered services like gmail or blogger through google.cn because they would not be able to guarantee their users privacy.

So Google's whole argument about why it is OK to censor content on google.cn searches is that in order to work in different countries they must respect local laws, especially since the government will censor them any way in a more repressive fashion. By hacking into Google emails, the Chinese government shows that it does not respect the laws that are important to Google, so Google feels like they no longer need to respect the laws in China.


Actually, they're known to have a pretty close working relationship with U.S. intelligence agencies.

Yes, because U.S. law says Google has to work closely with intelligence agencies. The government is the bad actor here, not Google. It's very similar to the Chinese situation.
posted by afu at 6:54 PM on January 12, 2010 [14 favorites]


Perhaps they've decided that potential profits were less important than that whole "Don't be evil" thing.

This kindof implies that their choice to enter China was evil, and I don't think there's a tight case for that.

If you see the moral issues as completely focused on Google's identity and what they do and don't do, I suppose it looks that way. That may be an important aspect of moral choices, but I think it's fair to say that foreseeable outcomes of a choice are equally important, if not more so. I'll bet the question they finally got down to when they were facing the decision was "which choice is more likely to influence or change China in any way? Google's presence, or absence?"

And the thing about censoring the internet is that it's so damn big that it's a game of whack-a-mole at best. Even if you've got great algorithms informing a sizable full-time team of censors, you're not going to be perfectly effective. It's like trying to capture all the water coming out of a firehose. Just by providing a good search service in that context you're already a little subversive. And that's assuming Google was never passively uncooperative and the censors were always sharp. If they ever delayed shoring up a breach, if they ever neglected researching a more promising or efficient censorship tack, if they ever let the censors wander down the garden path...

I don't have any particular way of knowing that's how it went down. I suppose it's possible they went into meetings with dollar signs in their eyes where they snuffed out their expensive cigars on the child workers serving them a menu off the endangered species. But it's plausible enough and Google's general behavior, particularly in this arena, has been so much more restrained than most companies that I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.
posted by weston at 6:56 PM on January 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


I wonder if the hackers used Google IPs to spoof the Googlebot to gain access to other companies' source code repositories

Why would they have their source code repositories open to googlebot's IP? That makes no sense whatsoever. First of all, most people require more then an IP address to get access to a system. and more importantly, why would they be giving access to Google in the first place?
posted by delmoi at 6:57 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nart Villeneuve, one of the key investigators behind the GhostNet report last year (previously), has a blog post about this that is pretty interesting. His main takeaway is wondering if the other Western search engines (Bing, Yahoo) will follow Google's lead on this, as they have on other things.

I find it kind of amusing that Google took this step on the day that their main competitor, Baidu, was hacked and defaced, and down for hours apparently. Unlikely to be connected, but still.

And yea, I'm pretty much over the moon about this (/waves). I have fought for so long to get people to pay attention to these kinds of targeted attacks by China (examples, self link), that having Google stepping up so publicly to denounce them in such a way is astonishingly exciting. Plus the whole "potentially ending censorship" thing, of course. Yay!
posted by gemmy at 6:59 PM on January 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


Interestingly, Baidu was hacked and offline for about 2 hours yesterday, by the "Iranian Cyber Army."
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:01 PM on January 12, 2010


Google Translate says it's 他妈的这狗屎 (tā mā de zhè gǒu shǐ). But when I translate it back, it says it means "Damn that dog feces". Not literally right, but the spirit's in the right place.

他妈的狗屁, literally, "your mother's dog ass/farts" is about the same and grammatically correct.
posted by afu at 7:02 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


First of all, most people require more then an IP address to get access to a system. and more importantly, why would they be giving access to Google in the first place?

Because it isn't a perfect world and many people trust Google.
posted by Gnarly Buttons at 7:07 PM on January 12, 2010


Google is rich enough, and staffed by enough underpaid, overworked starry-eyed dreamers, where they can make it a hobby to get around governmental censorship... much in the same way Apple makes it a hobby to string along fanbois and the press with "hawt roomurz!" They'll probably rake in as much cake from advertising as Apple does from their rumor-mongering, too... which is to say, hand-over-fist.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:10 PM on January 12, 2010


As opposed to Microsoft and Yahoo, who will do anything the CCP asks them to

The Kristof complaint is pretty bogus. The results he reports are an artifact of the way that search engines work. They use almost entirely "Traditional Chinese" in Taiwan and Hong Kong and nearly always "Simplified Chinese" in the PRC. So it stands to reason that a site using the simplified character for gate is much more likely to be inside the PRC, while a site using the traditional character for gate is much more likely to be outside the PRC. So algorithmically (and without any kind of translation between the characters) you're more likely to get sites inside the PRC when searching with the simplified character for gate -- and therefore less likely to get a site about the protest and massacre.
posted by Slothrup at 7:13 PM on January 12, 2010


Adobe confirms 'sophisticated, coordinated' breach. It's not clear if it is or is not related to Google's issues but the timing is suspicious.

We need to crank up another Bletchley Park type deal and starting getting it awn with the Chinese propeller heads.

And none of this USA style, modern bunker 200 feet underground mentality. It has to be in an 18th century mansion on a sprawling, 55 acre estate.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:15 PM on January 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


Gnarly Buttons: I trust my mom, but I don't give her access to my source code, because really, why would I do that?

Even if someone trusts Google, why would they give Googlebot access to their source code? It's not like they want their source code to show up in the public index.

It's more likely that the attackers hacked into hosted corporate gmail/google docs accounts, or, more far-fetchedly, used knowledge stolen from Google to hack into Google search appliances inside those companies.
posted by qvantamon at 7:16 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Slap*Happy:"Google is rich enough, and staffed by enough underpaid [citation needed], overworked starry-eyed dreamers, where they can make it a hobby to get around governmental censorship..."

Last I heard, interns were making $34 an hour there.
posted by mullingitover at 7:17 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


They'll probably rake in as much cake from advertising as Apple does from their rumor-mongering, too... which is to say, hand-over-fist.

Apparently both Google and Apple are staffed by Underpants Gnomes that can turn rumours into PROFIT!!!
posted by GuyZero at 7:22 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Awesome thread.

Good dudes. Good brew. Good buddies. I feel great, man. I FEEL GREAT!

I dunno man… I hate my father, I hate my life, but I feel great, man. You guys are great.

I'm gonna go pick a fight.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:58 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


this might be a good business decision by Google as well -- they've been plowing millions upon millions into China and have little to show for it. They've been outcompeted by Chinese companies for various reasons (some cultural, some legal, and a few technical), and it might just be time to throw in the towel.

What was Google's share of search in China, anyway?
posted by mediareport at 8:00 PM on January 12, 2010


Google's employees may not be starving, but I thought it was common knowledge that Google employees aren't compensated as well as at most tech companies.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:02 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


China stealing corporate secrets is something that many corporations should already be aware of.

Worst case scenario pull-out-of-ass-speculation: Because of the huge list of random companies being compromised, the worst case would be a trojan placed in the Google Search Appliance. Many corporations install the appliance to search their corporate intranet, if the source of that was hacked, many many corporations will be completely screwed as it's designed to crawl for corporate documents that are not visible to the public.
posted by amuseDetachment at 8:05 PM on January 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


混你个狗屁大账 would be a touch more idiomatic I reckon (in as much as it's a bit stronger and can imagine someone actually saying it) international swear fans, though it's not really a direct equivalent (more 'fuck you' than 'fuck this') and while there's multiple colourful options that vary with the rich tapestry of dialects and topolects no exact match springs to mind. There's 奶奶个熊 which is a development of a Shandong dialect 歇后语 (奶奶个胸 -- 下垂!) which refers to a situation fucked up beyond salvation, and that might work too. I shall enquire of foul-mouthed friends - obviously it's not something we in the choir would ever say.
This might explain why google.com was flaky for much of yesterday - seems back to normal now; no doubt the reckoning will come in its own good time.
posted by Abiezer at 8:10 PM on January 12, 2010


What was Google's share of search in China, anyway?

Reports suggest Baidu is around 61%, Google 29%, yahoo 5%.
posted by jenkinsEar at 8:12 PM on January 12, 2010


Answering my own question...

September 2006: Google Losing Market Share in China - The China Internet Marketing Network Information Center (CNNIC) puts Google’s overall loss at 8%, ending at 25.3% while Baidu’s market share increases to 62.1%

China IntelliConsulting (CIC), a marketing research start-up whose founder was involved with previous CNNIC surveys, sees Google slide to 20.6%. A loss of 12.3% compared to last year. Baidu wins in this survey 13% and ends up at 65.4%.


September 2009: Google has the most popular search engine worldwide and dominates completely in some markets. But there are exceptions to this, and China is one of the biggest. And, not only is it far behind the market leader in the country, Google is actually losing search market share, dropping significantly since last year despite continued efforts to get ahead. 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...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.
posted by mediareport at 8:15 PM on January 12, 2010


Reports suggest Baidu is around 61%, Google 29%, yahoo 5%.

That seems high, can you point me to any of the reports you've seen that put Google that high? Also, the 2nd link I found mentions Bing at 6% in China and suggests it'll be growing, rather than declining like Google is.
posted by mediareport at 8:18 PM on January 12, 2010


On Google cooperating US intelligence, delmoi says Well, the evidence is that other major companies have done the same thing.

Yes, and that's precisely why I'm so interested in evidence that Google has been equally cavalier in not protecting its users from an abusive US government. There's such an enormous risk, Google consolidates so much private data about people, stores it on their drives forever. But in every example I can find since I left Google, they've been really scrupulous in protecting user privacy. The counterexample article I linked earlier is a direct response to your criticism: AOL, Yahoo, and MSN all turned over user data when Google alone refused. And then there's products like Google Dashboard where Google goes above-and-beyond the standards of any other major Internet company in showing users what data they store about them.

Google is a uniquely important company for civil liberties. They demand special scrutiny that they protect users. So please, please don't confuse the discussion with unsupported attacks on their record. Examine what we know.

I feel bad even posting this message, since it's such a derail from the enormous China story, but you started it. I'm really hoping some journalist blogger can get at the story behind what Google's telling us about China. Something big went down that they only hint at. What is it?

I thought it was common knowledge that Google employees aren't compensated as well as at most tech companies.

Google used to have the reputation of paying low salaries, particularly pre-IPO. Compensation worked out OK for those folks, though, and everything I've heard about recent Google salaries is they're quite good.
posted by Nelson at 8:24 PM on January 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


Awesome! If China doesn't let Google operate without censorship, then I suggest lobbying to block Baidu's DNS entry in western countries.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:33 PM on January 12, 2010


Because it isn't a perfect world and many people trust Google.
People may trust google, but most people don't trust IP-only verification. I'm saying the idea that someone is "spoofing google's IP to get source code" makes no sense whatsoever. Even if someone was using AppEngine (Google's cloud computing product) spoofing their IP wouldn't get you anything
We need to crank up another Bletchley Park type deal and starting getting it awn with the Chinese propeller heads.
They're too busy looking for turrists.
Last I heard, interns were making $34 an hour there.
A lot of people say Google pays less then other tech companies (for real jobs), because they think working for Google is it's own reward. The IPO was a long time ago and I've heard this recently.

---
Google is a uniquely important company for civil liberties. They demand special scrutiny that they protect users. So please, please don't confuse the discussion with unsupported attacks on their record. Examine what we know.
Well look, we don't know that the CIA has any operatives who have infiltrated Al-Quaeda, but it would be insane to think they haven't tired. It's obviously true that the U.S. tried to get the search data in 2006, what are the chances that they gave up after that? I'd say pretty low, and it's not really in Google's interest to fight them every step of the way. They're a publicly traded company, and one subject to anti-trust regulation.

And there isn't exactly a lot of evidence that they're going out of their way to protect people. They're not claiming to go out of their way and their CEO has said "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.". He didn't say "We're doing everything legally possible to shield your data from the government"

They're just pissed now that the Chinese are trying to drink their milkshake.
Awesome! If China doesn't let Google operate without censorship, then I suggest lobbying to block Baidu's DNS entry in western countries.
I don't think the answer to censorship is more censorship, or that Baidu particularly cares one way or the other.posted by delmoi at 8:38 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


This "citation needed" crap is banal smuggery, even when justified.

And besides, if Google didn't rape and murder a young girl in 1990, why don't they deny the allegations?
posted by roystgnr at 8:43 PM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


What I'm hearing is that Google pays computer scientists with more degrees than a thermometer big money. Everyone else is essentially an expendable intern... unless you have a huge rep in academia or business, they can't be bothered with you. There aren't many mid-career professionals there, including open-source superstars.(No advanced degrees or published papers, you see...)

This is coming from some embittered sources, so take it as you would.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:47 PM on January 12, 2010


End-to-end encryption and we can (maybe) have our privacy back. But google's business model requires them to read your mail.
posted by Wood at 8:49 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


BTW, no idea if this is related, but Kai-Fu Lee left his gig running Google Beijing engineering in September 2009, off to start a business incubator.
posted by Nelson at 9:36 PM on January 12, 2010


But I'm still trying to figure out the reciprocity here. Why does detecting Chinese government hackers mean Google no longer justifies censoring Google search results?

It's like Google threatening to blacklist businesses that upset them in one way or another; it has little or nothing to do with morals, and more to do with flexing muscle and/or PR.
posted by rodgerd at 10:22 PM on January 12, 2010


delmoi And there isn't exactly a lot of evidence that they're going out of their way to protect people. They're not claiming to go out of their way and their CEO has said "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.". He didn't say "We're doing everything legally possible to shield your data from the government"

I interpret this as saying that Google won't share things like users' search history or email without being compelled to do so by law. That is is going out of their way to protect people. I think the point Schmidt was making is that they can be so compelled.

Now, of course, Google could let us encrypt all of our data and give us the keys. Then not even Google could read it. But that would be expensive for them, and Gmail's ad-bot wouldn't be able to give you custom-tailored advertisements. So that would cut into their bottom line, and they don't want that... this is the area that Google gets dicey, where privacy conflicts directly with profit.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:31 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


The US actually has some relatively strong statutory protections against companies handing certain kinds of data over to the government (that's why AT&T could be sued over it, for instance). I've seen no evidence for Google being particularly bad compared to other companies domestically in the data it could potentially voluntarily provide (and I think I'd be one of the people who would hear about that -- I work at the EFF).

Incidentally, on the same day as the China announcement, Google just turned on https by default on all Gmail accounts. Make of that what you will.
posted by ntk at 11:55 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Google has also stood up for its users against the federal US government. In 2006 it went to court to contest a subpoena of search data. The case, Gonzalez v. Google, was mostly won by Google, resulting in lesser compliance than was originally demanded. Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL had already complied with the original subpoena.
posted by Pranksome Quaine at 12:07 AM on January 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Let's say, hypothetically, that China had proved to be a total gusher for Google, revenue-wise. Had it taken the same steps as it did today - acts of brinksmanship which cheerfully court the possibility of losing the market completely - would it not be held accountable by its shareholders? Would such a move even be possible if it posed a serious threat to the company's financial well-being?

Either way, it's not entirely clear how much Google has at stake here. Not to parse words, but this is the difference between "taking a stand" and "making a fuss."
posted by bicyclefish at 12:43 AM on January 13, 2010


I agree with amuseDetachment that there is more to this than simple hacking. I'm sure that Google is pretty used to that and regards it as par for the game, quite possible as a welcome spice to their jobs. There has certainly been Humint involved, possibly both in google.cn and Google HQ, and it must have been quite high-level and shameless for Google to get this angry.

I differ from those who discount Google's reaction as meaningless. For starters, it is both very bad PR for China abroad, coming on top of a bad few months. Then, to have such a notorious corporation suddenly and very publicly renege on a formal agreement with the government of the PRC is a monumental loss of face for the latter, and it doesn't like that. At all. Finally, apart from this announcement, I can think of quite a few ways in which such a company as Google could make things uncomfortable for the Chinese authorities, and although they may involve some temporary derogations to the "Don't Be Evil" rule (as in, "Do Be a Little Bit Mischievous With Google Rankings" or "Allow Others to Be Evil in Googlebombing Official PRC Sites"), Google may find it worthwhile if it's pissed up enough, and it does seem to be quite pissed up.

In such a conflict, there may also be some collateral damage. I'm thinking in particular of Android. Android handset makers may find their supply lines disrupted if the Chinese government gets really angry with Google. I wouldn't like to be in HTC's shoes right now, for sure.
posted by Skeptic at 1:46 AM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fortunately for HTC, they're a Taiwanese company, but there could definitely be some collateral damage around the Android platform. The PRC has already been seen blocking Google's Android app store application on the mainland.
posted by ntk at 2:22 AM on January 13, 2010


ntk HTC is a Taiwanese company, I know, but I'm sure that, like most handset makers, they source most of their components (and even the main assembly) from the mainland.
posted by Skeptic at 2:38 AM on January 13, 2010


US State Department: Statement on Google Operations in China
posted by symbollocks at 4:43 AM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


for some chinese opinions (preceded by some editorialization): Say Goodbye to Google China? Chinese Reactions
posted by be11e at 5:32 AM on January 13, 2010


So they've stopped lying to people in China about what's on the web?

Well, let's give them the Nobel Peace Prize!
posted by blue_beetle at 5:55 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Answering my own question from earlier, "JPMorgan analyst Imran Khan estimates Google's China revenue at around $600 million this year, with segment margins around 15% to 20%."
posted by Slothrup at 6:57 AM on January 13, 2010


In such a conflict, there may also be some collateral damage. I'm thinking in particular of Android. Android handset makers may find their supply lines disrupted if the Chinese government gets really angry with Google. I wouldn't like to be in HTC's shoes right now, for sure.
"We'll stop making your shit if you get political with us" would be a pretty extreme statement from a country with such a huge outsourced manufacturing industry. It's not like Google couldn't just find some other company/factory somewhere to build the phone for them. Other manufacturers would be falling all over themselves for the contract.

Google's share price hasn't taken much of a hit, but Baidu's has jumped 11%
posted by delmoi at 7:04 AM on January 13, 2010


Fresh news:
Drummond said that the hackers never got into Gmail accounts via the Google hack, but they did manage to get some "account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line."

That's because they apparently were able to access a system used to help Google comply with search warrants by providing data on Google users, said a source familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the press.

"Right before Christmas, it was, 'Holy s***, this malware is accessing the internal intercept [systems],'" he said.
Remember, Google doesn't keep any user data in China (because it doesn't want to be forced to disclose it to the Chinese government), which means that the "internal intercept system" that was hacked was back here in the US.

Thats right, the system used by Google's legal team, to respond to DOJ and other government search warrants, subpoenas, National Security Letters, and super secret FISA orders -- yeah, it was hacked.

I should also add that back in 2007, computer security experts wrote about this very threat (in response to the patriot act debate). Namely that by building surveillance capabilities into the network, you also create a major risk of those systems being hacked, and the capabilities being used by 3rd parties to covertly spy on users.
posted by genome4hire at 7:10 AM on January 13, 2010 [11 favorites]


The auto translated comments on this blog are pretty hilarious.
Fat Sand! Fat Sand! Fat Sand! Fat Sand! Fat Sand!
Sofa!
--
Ultra-hate to grab sofa for the music people, unpleasant
--
Bench! Celestial too crab, and Google went really do not know what the Internet
--
If you later on, then Google should be over the wall, then with a cup. Gmail, Search, Google Reader is now wanted to use every day ironclad, Doc, Map, Calendar, Chinese music is often to use and feels so cool, and also There Appengine, Google Code ... ...

No Google, the living do not have to dry.
--
Bench bench bench bench bench bench bench bench bench bench
The longer comments are more readable. I hope Google doesn't stop working on it's translation system, Chinese language spidering and so on.
posted by delmoi at 7:18 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmm, one of the comments was translated as "So fucking sad": The orgional was "太他妈的悲哀了" -- tài (too) tā mā de (his mother's) bēi āi (sad) le
posted by delmoi at 7:25 AM on January 13, 2010


Google, like all other ISPs, receives subpoenas, and warrants every day, from local, state, federal and foreign governments.

Facebook and AOL have revealed how many requests they receive each year (10-20 per day, and 1000 per month respectively).

Google refuses to even disclose how many requests they receive each year.
We don’t talk about types or numbers of requests to help protect all our users. Obviously, we follow the law like any other company. When we receive a subpoena or court order, we check to see if it meets both the letter and the spirit of the law before complying. And if it doesn’t we can object or ask that the request is narrowed. We have a track record of advocating on behalf of our users.
The company also refuses to talk about how many requests it fights back against. Yes, it likes to talk about that one time in 2006 when the company pushed back in response to a DOJ request... however, when it does brag about that incident, it usually doesn't mention that the company ended up giving DOJ essentially the same data that Yahoo and Microsoft had previously coughed up.

Finally, while companies don't really have much flexibility in regard to lawful subpoenas and court orders, the companies do have extreme flexibility when it comes to voluntary disclosures in so called "exigent circumstances", when the government comes to an ISP, with no warrant or subpoena, and claims a life or death situation.

18 USC 2702 (b) specifies that a "A provider described in subsection (a) may divulge the contents of a communication ... to a governmental entity, if the provider, in good faith, believes that an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requires disclosure without delay of communications relating to the emergency."

This is where ISPs have a lot of leeway, and ISP practices do vary considerably. In such situations an ISP can choose to disclose its customers' communications to the government, but is not required to do so.

How often does Google disclose its customers communications to the government in such situations without a warrant, court order or other lawful process? Who knows.
posted by genome4hire at 7:26 AM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Commence countdown to claims that this "insults the sovereignty of the Chinese people"....
posted by aramaic at 7:27 AM on January 13, 2010


This "citation needed" crap is banal smuggery, even when justified.

I totally disagree. I would be very happy for someone to follow up my comments with a simple "citation needed" whenever I confidently assert something that I sorta remember reading maybe on the internet somewhere.
posted by straight at 7:47 AM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


"In Beijing, supporters gathered early to offer flower bouquets in front of Google’s office in the Tsinghua Science Park" (WSJ)
posted by hellopanda at 7:50 AM on January 13, 2010


WSJ article:
Google's statement was hotly debated within the senior ranks of the company, according to two people familiar with the matter. Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt was concerned about the potential backlash, but operating in China has been a concern of Google co-founder Sergey Brin in particular, these people said.
posted by delmoi at 7:51 AM on January 13, 2010


Other than the feel good factor by Westerners, what practical good does this move achieve?

A guess: if I were a shareholder, I'd be pretty pleased by this. The legendary size of the potential Chinese market aside, if Google is unable to operate there without being held down and now apparently having its shit stolen by the Chinese government, then it's just a sinkhole. A market of billions is no use if you have to give up your major competitive advantages (i.e. source code) only in order to be denied fair access to it.

Google is basically the first major multinational to cast open doubt on the China myth. As long as the political scene and the business conditions are such as they are, money spent in China by western companies is largely money dumped down a pit. Let them build their own fake capitalist economy to go along with their fake capitalist economic statistics.
posted by rusty at 8:08 AM on January 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


Google's share price hasn't taken much of a hit, but Baidu's has jumped 11%

I'm pretty sure that no longer censoring search results would make China more popular, not less.
posted by empath at 8:13 AM on January 13, 2010


(errr, would make google IN china)
posted by empath at 8:13 AM on January 13, 2010


This makes me happy. I have a lot of life tied up in different aspects of Google, and their capitulations with regard to China was a tarnish on what I consider to be an otherwise excellent company.

Now, if I can just get them to fix my wife's damn Google Talk I can go back to loving them unconditionally.
posted by quin at 9:02 AM on January 13, 2010


'This "citation needed" crap is banal smuggery, even when justified.'

I totally disagree. I would be very happy for someone to follow up my comments with a simple "citation needed" whenever I confidently assert something that I sorta remember reading maybe on the internet somewhere.


Citation needed.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:33 AM on January 13, 2010


seriously, i have yet to see this on NYT or any (crap) MSM news site?
posted by terrirodriguez at 9:48 AM on January 13, 2010


"We'll stop making your shit if you get political with us" would be a pretty extreme statement from a country with such a huge outsourced manufacturing industry.

Thing is, what many corporations find out after investing a lot of money in China, is that this doesn't necessarily earns them any protection from Chinese vested interests. Just ask Danone. Or GM. And they only bothered local interests. If you get on the wrong side of the ChCP, I expect quick and devastating retribution, even it means cutting their nose to spite their face (cf. Carrefour).
posted by Skeptic at 10:17 AM on January 13, 2010


seriously, i have yet to see this on NYT or any (crap) MSM news site?

CNBC interviewed David Drummond. It's on video.nytimes.com.
posted by GuyZero at 10:40 AM on January 13, 2010


Interestingly, though searching People's Daily Online for "google" brings up

"Google may withdraw from Chinese market
... David Drummond published an article "A new approach to China" on Google's official blog, outlining Google's view and consideration of its operations in China. Google said January 12, 2009 that they are ...
http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90778/90860/6867207.html 2010.1.13"

the link for the article brings up a blank page. (The nicely doublespoken article is available here, in any case.)
posted by progosk at 11:16 AM on January 13, 2010


here's the interview that GuyZero mentioned.
posted by delmoi at 11:31 AM on January 13, 2010


terrirodriguez: "seriously, i have yet to see this on NYT or any (crap) MSM news site?"

Did you look? Every single one of these were linked from the news site's home page:
New York Times
Wall Street Journal
Guardian
ABC News
LA Times
Washington Post

Sorry it's not the top story on all of those websites. There was this little earthquake thing that's slightly more pressing news.
posted by Plutor at 12:04 PM on January 13, 2010


Google's possible exile leads to cyber protests; Netizens on move
posted by homunculus at 1:26 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


CNBC interviewed David Drummond. It's on video.nytimes.com.

That interview is a pretty ironic bit of puffery, towards the end, when CNBC starts congratulating the system of capitalism for a moral backbone it has never really had. There seems to be much more to this story than what we are reading, and that news anchor really missed a primo opportunity to push for interesting details.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:40 PM on January 13, 2010


Well, it is CNBC. Reminds me of Marketplace yesterday where the hilarious goofball interviewing someone actually prefaced his question, "What's wrong with maximizing profits in a place like China?" with the words, "To be value-neutral for a moment..."

I about fell off a stepladder laughing.
posted by mediareport at 2:55 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is the same Marketplace that was shocked, SHOCKED! that people might consider walking away from their underwater mortgages, because they were BREAKING A PROMISE TO A BANK.
posted by benzenedream at 3:15 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


We believe the attack was launched via a convincing e-mail with an exploit-ridden PDF attachment. --F-Secure
posted by Skorgu at 3:48 PM on January 13, 2010


This discussion from three Gmail insiders is interesting. It points to this ComputerWorld article which has a good job contextualizing Chinese espionage.
posted by Nelson at 4:35 PM on January 13, 2010


Rusty: Google is basically the first major multinational to cast open doubt on the China myth. As long as the political scene and the business conditions are such as they are, money spent in China by western companies is largely money dumped down a pit. Let them build their own fake capitalist economy to go along with their fake capitalist economic statistics.

Well said. China bludgeons with the myth that it is too economically powerful to be ignored, and uses it as a golden gag to squelch talk of deplorable human rights abuses the involve incarceration, beatings, oppression and executions (including a recently a British citizen who may have been mentally ill). What they figured out, in the 90s when the first whiff of their potential bagn to emanate was that, in Capitalism, true to it's name, money talks loudest of all, and that in the United States, a commitment to freedom and liberty was usually no more really than a freedom and liberty for moneyed entities and Capitalism was no more related to free speech, human rights or than Maoism was. And perhaps even less, if those things hurt the bottom line, which they can....

And with that bottom line they could offer something those Capitalist interests, by their very nature, could not ignore: Vast, plentiful, well controlled, disciplined, dependable, skilled labor operating 24/7....for mere pennies on the dollar compared to the costs of the same labor pool in the U.S or Europe.

The multi-national corps, Wall Street, the banks, the U.S. government including Bill Clinton in the 90s, when it all came together (etc..) looked the other way, with the justification that having a presence in China would allow the free market to addresses in the abuses in China," but without a government commitment to that, it didn't. China helped to tamp it all down by buying massive quantities of U.S. debt and pegging the Yuan to the dollar, and it was obviously lucrative on the short term, but in the long term the endless supply of credit has resulted in a disaster on Wall Street and it's destroyed the manufacturing base in this country, bred a veritable explosion of Walmarts, that have destroyed the employment and commercial base in town after town for a country that is anathema to every single supposedly cherished principle of this country. Fueled a housing bubble that ruined millions.

So now we get Google responding in this amazing, way...the way the market was always supposed to react to China's abuses, but didn't, couldn't wouldn't because why rock the boat on a future fortune from the sleeping economic leviathan slowly awakening in China?

Google is the first company who's had China not only restrict and mess with it's essential product: Easily searchable and unfettered access to information, BUT attempt to steal its technological secrets AND violate the sacred trust the company has built almost all its businesses and products on ie,: Respect for its customer's privacy..

What's to stop China from undermining every other company operating in China in exactly the same way. Stealing secrets from the manufacture of IBM servers or stealing secrets from the assembly of Apple Ipods or HP printers or car manufacturing expertise from CAterpillar, so and so forth. And the answer is absolutely nothing. If they will do this to Google, they, the CCP will do this to any and all companies who do business there. Business secrets and quip pro quo mean nothing in a totalitarian nation.

Google is perhaps the most visionary company in the world and if they leave China, other companies would be foolish to stay or expand their operations there.

Anyhow, it's about time for a re-evaluation of this nation's relationship with China. It's not okay to be a despotic oppressive totalitarian tyranny.
posted by Skygazer at 6:11 PM on January 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Business secrets and quip pro quo mean nothing in a totalitarian nation.

I allegedly live in a democracy and I'm still not sure what quip pro quo means!

Sorry
posted by grouse at 6:29 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thing is, what many corporations find out after investing a lot of money in China, is that this doesn't necessarily earns them any protection from Chinese vested interests. Just ask Danone. Or GM. And they only bothered local interests. If you get on the wrong side of the ChCP, I expect quick and devastating retribution, even it means cutting their nose to spite their face (cf. Carrefour).

Danone, got fucked by their local joint venture patner, and the GM thing was a straight IP rip off, neither had anything to do with politics. The Carrefour boycott was a grass roots movement that lasted a week and barely hurt Carrefour's business.

China is not going to stop the production of Android phones because consumer electronics is China's flag ship industry. If they tried secessionist movements would probably rise up in Guangdong.
posted by afu at 6:37 PM on January 13, 2010


Anyhow, it's about time for a re-evaluation of this nation's relationship with China. It's not okay to be a despotic oppressive totalitarian tyranny.

Well said to your whole comment, except I'd say 'long overdue' rather than 'about time'. But then, I also tend to say 'fuck China' a lot, which lacks some of the nuance of your analysis. Heh.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:14 PM on January 13, 2010


Shit, I need to stop commenting when I'm half asleep. That is some lousy writing. Sorry.
posted by Skygazer at 9:03 PM on January 13, 2010


here's a timeline of google's relationship with China.

This discussion from three Gmail insiders is interesting.

Nelson, that link just says: "The entry you requested is private" Can you paste what it says?
posted by delmoi at 11:42 PM on January 13, 2010


I'm still not sure what quip pro quo means!

You get a gag in return for something else.

And then your family pays for the bullet.
posted by Wolof at 4:19 AM on January 14, 2010


Also, cf the Industrial Espionage Act of 1996. It can also be the case that Google didn't want to be any party to that.
posted by digitalprimate at 7:02 AM on January 14, 2010


Nelson, that link just says: "The entry you requested is private" Can you paste what it says?

Oops! I better not if it's marked private. My mistake. There's no new information there, just some evaluation of the plausibility of various speculations about the nature of the hacking. We're discussing those same speculations here.
posted by Nelson at 8:22 AM on January 14, 2010


"U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will announce a technology policy next week to help citizens in other countries gain access to an uncensored Internet, a Clinton adviser told Reuters."

Eric Schmidt was apparently on the committee that drafted the policy. It will be interesting to see whether Google's recent action was made with awareness of the policy and as a preemptive move in relation to it.
posted by ardgedee at 9:42 AM on January 14, 2010


Researchers identify command servers behind Google attack. "Citing sources in the defense contracting and intelligence consulting community, the [VeriSign] iDefense report unambiguously declares that the Chinese government was, in fact, behind the effort."
posted by filthy light thief at 4:12 PM on January 14, 2010


VeriSign iDefense is saying PDF exploit. McAffee says it was a new zero day IE exploit. Why require a choice? Modern computers are swiss cheese for security, any of 50 programs on any OS could be the victim of a targeted attack.
posted by Nelson at 6:00 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


"The servers used in both attacks employ the HomeLinux DynamicDNS provider, and both are currently pointing to IP addresses owned by Linode, a US-based company that offers Virtual Private Server hosting. The IP addresses in question are within the same subnet, and they are six IP addresses apart from each other," the report says. "Considering this proximity, it is possible that the two attacks are one and the same, and that the organizations targeted in the Silicon Valley attacks have been compromised since July."

Woah, I have a server on Linode. Crazy.
posted by delmoi at 6:17 PM on January 14, 2010


"U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will announce a technology policy next week to help citizens in other countries gain access to an uncensored Internet, a Clinton adviser told Reuters."

This is the anti-censorship service they were talking about for a while, right? The anti-censorship service that censors porn sites because "We don't want to be subsidizing that with taxpayer's dollars, do we"?
posted by dunkadunc at 6:22 PM on January 14, 2010


WSJ blog: Clearing up confusion on Google and China. Implicitly endorsed by Google via Twitter.

The part I found most interesting was that in the last four years google.com has been available, uncensored, inside China. Interesting that China would allow it to exist alongside the censored google.cn.
posted by Nelson at 11:01 AM on January 15, 2010


It's poetic justice that Adobe itself was hacked. The incredible number of Reader exploits prompted my AskMe a while ago.
posted by benzenedream at 11:45 AM on January 15, 2010


Did someone at Google finally remember that whole "don't be evil" thing?

To my comment above, I'm going to have to add, "and when they stop manipulating their search results for political reasons."
posted by Dasein at 9:11 PM on January 15, 2010


Dasein: Google has algorithms to moderate incestuous link bombing, like, say for instance where the same 10 blogs link to each other with 500 posts each extolling the value of FatBGone. I imagine the same thing happened in this case with "ClimateGate" - the climate change skeptics all linked heavily to the same 50 blogs all going ga-ga over the term ClimateGate, so Google's code raised the term's ranking until the cyclic linking was noticed.

This is the classic right wing paranoid scenario where the actual scandal has no substance, so the story then shifts to the "suppression" of the non-story by the MSM.

So let's work through the thought process of Lawrence Solomon: A hugely powerful foreign communist dictatorship steals secrets vital to your economic future, kneecaps your corporations, exposes itself to be ruthless and highly skilled in espionage, and attempts to suppress free speech within North American borders.

Your response as a responsible journalist is: Write an editorial about the ups and downs of C-L-I autocompletion on Google's website, so you can manufacture a scandal and sell more copies of your Climate Change Denier book.

The conservatives of the 1960s must be spinning in their graves fast enough to cause anthropogenic warming.
posted by benzenedream at 11:07 PM on January 15, 2010


benzenedream, you may be right about this being an innocuous attempt at preventing Google-bombing - I hope you are. But I have to disagree that the actual scandal has no substance - the emails clearly show that the scientists saw themselves as activists, and conspired to keep raw data out of the hands of skeptics. It casts serious doubt on the objectivity of the research being produced at one of the two most important research centres into climate change.

As for Lawrence Solomon, I think it's really unfair and wrong to condemn someone for writing a column tangential to the Chinese suppression of Google, as if every column that touches the subject has to denounce the Chinese first and foremost or it's irresponsible. That's insane. It essentially accuses Solomon of taking the Chinese side in the China-Google fight, which is outrageous, and says it's wrong to say, hey, the other side here isn't so great either. Solomon may be wrong about what's going on, but if he's not, it's a worthwhile story.
posted by Dasein at 8:17 AM on January 16, 2010


From the Times Online: China tried to hack our computers, says India’s security chief M.K. Narayanan
He said that the attack came in the form of an e-mail with a PDF attachment containing a “Trojan” virus, which allows a hacker to access a computer remotely and download or delete files. The virus was detected and officials were told not to log on until it was eliminated, he said.

“People seem to be fairly sure it was the Chinese. It is difficult to find the exact source but this is the main suspicion. It seems well founded,” he said, adding that India was co-operating with America and Britain to bolster its cyber defences.
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:34 PM on January 17, 2010


Google probing possible inside help on attack
posted by homunculus at 8:28 AM on January 18, 2010


Congress takes a bold stand against surveillance abuses
posted by homunculus at 9:45 AM on January 18, 2010


Washington Post: Baidu CTO Yinan Li Quits, Days After COO's Departure
It's unclear what is going on at Baidu, but two senior managers resigning in ten days is undeniably a sign of trouble. It's hard not to see this move in relation to the whole Google/China ordeal, but we should note Baidu's COO Peng Ye quit the company before Google posted its bombshell blog post about the 'Operation Aurora' cyberattacks and its decision to stop censoring search results on its Chinese portal.
Far-fetched speculation: perhaps the source code stolen from Google was handed over to Baidu?
posted by jenkinsEar at 1:45 PM on January 18, 2010


Missed this on January 14: Microsoft confirms a new IE exploit was one vector. See also Security Advisory 979352.
posted by Nelson at 4:45 PM on January 19, 2010


The Long Now – China rising.
posted by tellurian at 5:40 PM on January 19, 2010


SecureWorks did an interesting analysis of the code used in the Operation Aurora attack on Google. It sure seems to be pointing back towards the PRC.

iDefense came out to say that they withdrew their statement on a poisoned PDF being used in the attack. Juniper confirms that they were a target, while Dow Chemical says they actually were not.

Meanwhile, Microsoft will patch the vulnerability used in the attack tomorrow (Thursday), and F-Secure moves on to another set of targeted attacks - this time on defense contractors.
posted by gemmy at 11:23 AM on January 20, 2010


Clinton speaks on Internet freedom
posted by homunculus at 12:43 PM on January 22, 2010


Bruce Schneier: U.S. enables Chinese hacking of Google
posted by homunculus at 9:35 AM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


‘Don’t Be Evil,’ Meet ‘Spy on Everyone’: How the NSA Deal Could Kill Google
posted by homunculus at 12:06 PM on February 6, 2010


Chinese netizens stage virtual protest
posted by homunculus at 8:26 AM on February 10, 2010


"There are no dissidents in China."
posted by homunculus at 12:08 PM on February 11, 2010


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