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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Google is latest target of aggressive hacking from China

January 14, 2010

By Peter Ford, Staff writer

Christian Science Monitor - January 13, 2010
Beijing

Google was careful not to accuse the Chinese government directly of the
cyberattacks that the company said it had detected against human rights
activists' Gmail accounts. But the implications were clear.

If Google's engineers thought that some random hackers had been snooping,
Google's top legal officer would hardly have said that the incident "goes to
the heart of a much bigger debate about freedom of speech." Ghostnet ops

Rafal Rohozinki has his suspicions, too. He was a principal investigator on
the Canadian team of cyber-detectives that last year laid bare the existence
of "Ghostnet" - a spying operation controlled from computers in China that
infiltrated other computers in 103 countries - many in embassies,
ministries, and the Dalai Lama's offices.

"Google's disclosure is another admission that there is systematic targeting
of individuals by parties unknown but strongly suspected to be linked to the
Chinese government," he says.

The men who unraveled "Ghostnet" did not say conclusively that Beijing was
behind the botnet that infected at least 1,295 computers around the world,
allowing its controllers to read and copy files and even to turn on the
audio and video functions of an infected computer so that they could see and
hear what was going on around it.

A Chinese government spokesman dismissed the report when it came out last
March, saying its authors were "bent on fabricating lies of so-called
Chinese computer spies."

The "Ghostnet" report relates the case of a young Tibetan woman who was
arrested on her return to Tibet from two years in India, where she had been
working for a group making Internet contact between Tibet and the outside
world. That group's computers had been infected by the spy operation.

During her interrogation, Chinese police showed the woman a log of her
Internet correspondence, indicating they had had full access to it Support
from free-speech activists

Google said that "these attacks [on its servers] and the surveillance they
have uncovered," combined with recent attempts to limit free speech on the
Chinese Web even further, had convinced the company to no longer self-censor
its search results as mandated by the government.

This principled stand has drawn widespread plaudits from free speech
activists. Google accepted censorship in order to set up its search engine
in China in 2006. But the company has not offered any services involving
personal or confidential data, which could easily be stolen from
Chinese-based servers. Bearing in mind Yahoo's mistakes, it does not offer
Chinese Gmail or user-generated content services that could allow
surveillance of participants

Danny Sullivan, who runs Search Engine Land, a California-based website
monitoring the search engine industry, also offers a somewhat sly
explanation for Google's sudden decision to defy censorship.

"Google is an engineer-dominated company," he says. "They may understand an
attack on their Web servers more than an attack on free speech. When they
see their kids, their own programs, being attacked, they behave like an
angry mother."
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