Google vs. China

tue19jan2010—03w019d5%— 04h55m00s—0utc

I believe the Google-China faceoff a momentous occasion. A major fallout between 2 of the very most powerful organizations on Earth.

So I created this experimental summary to try to wrap my head around it. The idea is to aggregate all the developments of a major news story, linking even more aggressively than Wikipedia and straight to first sources as much as possible. The favicon bullets are links to that paragraph’s source. All emphases mine.

revealed it had been victim of: 12.Jan
  • "a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure"
    • McAfee: "We have never ever, outside of the defense industry, seen commercial industrial companies come under that level of sophisticated attack." 14.Jan
      • They stop "short of saying that the planet nearly stopped spinning." 17.Jan
    • McAfee: "we discovered that one of the malware samples involved in this broad attack exploits a new, not publicly known vulnerability in Microsoft Internet Explorer." 14.Jan
      • Microsoft: "we have determined that Internet Explorer was one of the vectors used.. against Google and possibly other corporate networks." 14.Jan
      • IE 6, 7 & 8 vulnerable, though only attacks on IE 6 have been confirmed.
        • "We recommend users of IE6 on Windows XP upgrade to a new version of Internet Explorer and/or enable DEP."
      • "Researchers.. create exploits for IE7, IE8.. Microsoft's mitigations 'weak,' argues expert" 19.Jan
      • German, French and Australian govt agencies have advised their citizens to switch to IE alternatives. The British govt will not issue such warning.
        • 300,000 extra downloads of Firefox from IE users from Germany within 4 days of the German govt's announcement. 19.Jan
    • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: "We look to the Chinese government for an explanation. The ability to operate with confidence in cyberspace is critical in a modern society and economy." 12.Jan
  • "originating from China"
    • the Chinese govt?
      • Eric Schmidt: "We do not have clear evidence as to who was doing the monitoring, but you can draw your own conclusions." 15.Jan
      • a report by VeriSign, a major web security company: "The source IPs and drop server of the attack correspond to a single foreign entity consisting either of agents of the Chinese state or proxies thereof" 14.Jan
      • A source close to the company said Wednesday that after Google's network came under a flurry of cyberattacks in mid-December, company engineers did in fact trace it to a branch of the Chinese government, or agents acting on its behalf. 13.Jan
      • Chinese Foreign Ministry: "Chinese law prohibits any form of hacking attack." Asked if Chinese law also bars the government itself from hacking activity, the question was deferred to the "competent department." 14.Jan
      • "Other countries also engage in cyber espionage, especially Israel and of course the United States Government itself with the largest group of hackers in the world employed by the National Security Agency." 15.Jan
  • "that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google."
    • particularly, in the partial infiltration of GMail accounts of Chinese dissidents
      • like Tenzin Seldon, a Stanford student and Tibetan activist: "The fact that the Chinese government is intimidated by a 20-year-old is kind of sad. 14.Jan
  • "at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses.. have been similarly targeted."
    • Yahoo: "We condemn any attempts to infiltrate company networks to obtain user information.. We stand aligned with Google that these kinds of attacks are deeply disturbing..."
      ("Yahoo is one of the companies that was targeted in the attacks, according to several people with knowledge of the situation. The company has declined to confirm that it was a victim.") 13.Jan
      • Alibaba: "Yahoo's statement that it is 'aligned' with the position Google took last week was reckless given the lack of facts in evidence.. Alibaba doesn't share this view." [Yahoo owns 40 percent in the major Chinese internet company.] 15.Jan
    • Adobe: "a sophisticated, coordinated attack against corporate network systems managed by Adobe and other companies." 12.Jan
    • Juniper Networks (2nd-biggest maker of computer networking gear): "A spokeswoman confirmed that Juniper was targeted and that it was the same attack suffered by Google and others."
    • "At least 34 companies — including.. Symantec,... Northrop Grumman [US military contractor] and Dow Chemical — were attacked, according to congressional and industry sources." 14.Jan
    • India's govt too: "China tried to hack our computers, says India's security chief M.K. Narayanan" 18.Jan
  • "We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about [it].. because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech.
    • "Cellular companies in Beijing and Shanghai have been told to suspend text services to cellphone users who are found to have sent messages with 'illegal or unhealthy content'" 19.Jan
    • Obama (remarks in China tour): "I'm a big supporter of non-censorship... the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable... They can begin to think for themselves." 16.Nov.2009
    • "Short of the role of the East India Company.., it's hard to come up with other examples of a private corporation (albeit "publicly held") yanking the reins any harder on the bridle of history." 14.Jan
    • "a watershed moment in the history of industrial globalization... everyone is struggling for context." 17.Jan
    • "Google contacted Yahoo about the attacks before it publicized them. Google executives were dismayed that other companies were unwilling to publicly acknowledge the attacks, and they were particularly frustrated by Yahoo's silence, one person said."
    • Yahoo pulled out of China "after it [controversially] provided information to Chinese authorities that led to the arrest of journalists."
  • "..this great nation [China] is at the heart of much economic progress and development in the world today."
    • reaction from the Chinese government:
      • State Council Information Office's director: "Our country is at a crucial stage of reform and development, and this is a period of marked social conflicts... Properly guiding internet opinion is a major measure for protecting internet information security." Internet businesses must adhere to "propaganda discipline." 14.Jan
      • Foreign Ministry spokeswoman: "The Chinese government administers the Internet according to law and we have explicit stipulations over what content can be spread on the Internet." 14.Jan
        • "The question is, what law says that Google cannot index the web site of the BBC news? Anyone know?" 18.Jan
      • China Daily (state-run English-language newspaper): "'Do No Evil' lays bare Web giant's hypocrisy... an inglorious retreat. .. yet another example of American hubris and imperialistic hypocrisy." 18.Jan
    • reaction from Chinese citizens:
      • Flowers and candles were laid at Google's Beijing HQ. The flowers were promptly removed.
        A security guard: without "permits at the relevant department...they were conducting an 'illegal flower tribute.''"
        @cxzj: "This is not Google withdrawing from China, but China withdrawing from the rest of the world."
      • "Google: Bye, let's meet on the other side of the wall."
      • @benziz: "I never imagined there would be a day without Google.com, without Reader, without Gmail"
      • [widely circulated tweet:] "The sin of facebook is that it helps people know who they wanna know. The sin of Twitter is that it allows people to say what they wanna say. The sin of Google is that it lets people find what they wanna find, and Youtube let us see what we wanna see. So, they are all kicked away."

        "[mock] make up how the state-run media CCTV might comment on the incident: Recently because Google encountered issues such as obscene search returns, infringement on copyrights, it is boycotted by the Chinese netizens. Also due to the decreasing revenue, it is considering to quit the Chinese market. This is another case of boycotting a perverted foreign website by Chinese people."
      • "GoogleBye."
  • "We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results."
    • Sergey Brin: "We felt that perhaps we could compromise our principles but provide ultimately more information for the Chinese and be a more effective service and perhaps make more of a difference.. Perhaps now the principled approach makes more sense." (June 6, 2006) Brin fled Soviet Russia as a children.
    • Google, together with Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco were convened to a US house of representatives hearing to discuss the morality of collaboration with China's "regime of repressions". They were lashed at by politicians: "What Congress is looking for is real spine and willingness to stand up to the outrageous demands of a totalitarian regime." (February 15, 2006) Here's Google's testimony.
    • On discussions after the attacks: "Mr. Schmidt made the argument he long has.. namely that it is moral to do business in China in an effort to try to open up the regime. Mr. Brin strenuously argued the other side, namely that the company had done enough trying and that it could no longer justify censoring its search results."
  • "We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn"
  • "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."
    • "Google derives an estimated $300 million to $400 million in annual revenue from China's Internet users."
      • that's only "about 1.5 percent of total sales."
    • Google's main competitor in China is Baidu, who had 58.6% of the search market versus Google's 35.6% on the last quarter of 2009.
      • From the day of the announcement, GOOG stocks have remained practically undisturbed, while BIDU's have seen considerable gains, , ending Jan. 19 at -0.01% and +14% of their Jan. 12 prices, respectively.
      • Baidu's Chief Technology Officer resigned on Jan. 19. Allegedly for difficulties on the rollout of a new advertising tool.
      • Baidu's Chief Operating Officer resigned on Jan. 8, citing "personal reasons"
      • Baidu sues its US domain registrar firm (Register.com) over "gross negligence" on the hacker attack that disrupted its service on Jan. 12
    • Today, Jan. 21, Google will present its 4th Quarter Earnings at a conference call. Tough questions on the China decision expected.

Early days, so please be gentle! I need your help, this is too much for one mind. Please comment corrections, suggestions and updates!

Jan 24, 2009: I’m not officially maintaining this story any more. It is indeed too much for one mind. I’ve learned many things by making this experiment that I had been dreaming about for many years (I called it “linklines” in my mind). Soon you’ll see projects inspired by these lessons!

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