Google’s Brave New Stand Against China After Unprecedented Chinese Cyber Attack

In what will surely be remembered as a pivotal and defining moment in Internet history, Google today took a brave stand against China which has so  far dictated how Google  conducts business in that country.

In a post on their blog titled “A New Approach To China”, Google stated that it had detected an unprecedented and highly sophisticated attack by Chinese hackers last month on its corporate infrastructure, and on 20 other corporate entities. The hacking has resulted  in theft of some of Google’s Intellectual Property. Google has also determined that the hackers were primarily targeting the Gmail accounts of  Chinese human rights activists. Possibly there was much more – since Google has only shared some of the information from these attacks. In any case, the attacks appeared to be the tipping point for Google in revising their stance on China.

Effectively this is what Google is saying to China in their announcement  : “We are not going to succumb to your censorship policies  any more and enough is enough   :  So take it or leave it –  we  will either run an uncensored search engine in China on our terms OR  just cease operations there ! “

Putting an economic juggernaut and the next superpower on notice in no uncertain terms  on a matter of principle  requires tremendous guts and vision.   It has never been done, as far as I know, by any large US  corporation (or even by the US Govt for that matter !)  . If ever there was a moment in Google’s decade old history which demonstrated  their resolve and  the true intent of  their  corporate motto “Don’t do evil”  – this has to be  it !    Google deserves the utmost respect and accolades from everybody for this brave stance.   I only wish they had done it sooner in 2006 when they launched Google.cn.  Succumbing to  the unreasonable demands of a communist regime that censors  free  speech, oppresses its citizens, routinely violates human rights and then denies all wrongdoing,  goes  against everything that Google,  and the rest of the free world  believes in.   It is about time someone stood up to them and I am glad Google had the clarity of conviction and the guts to do this.  More power to them and may this be the start of a worldwide movement that puts pressure on  the Chinese Government to revise their policies.

There is  another important aspect to this announcement : If  a $200 billion behemoth like Google,  run by some of  the smartest  engineers and security experts in the world can be breached by hackers in China,  it should be a wake-up call to the rest of the world on  the seriousness of the dire threat that hacking in general and China in particular poses.

TechCrunch has a blog post about this   here – and we do hope that  they unearth more background information and report it as it becomes available on this huge story.  Interestingly,  the New York Times’ lead story on this titled  it merely as  an “email breach”  – a misleadingly innocuous label  that understates the scope and nature of this attack.

Incidentally this attack occurs after several years of under-reported warnings in the press about this threat from China.    The country has secretly been building an army of Chinese hackers on a remote island off the coast of China – with the explicit goal of “electronic world domination” by 2050.  I had blogged about this threat back in April – which you can read here.

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