Chinese Human Rights Activists Targeted, Google May Shut Down Chinese Operations

January 14, 2010

USA–Google’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Development David Drummond announced on Tuesday, January 12, 2010, that unless Google is allowed to operate their Chinese search engine without censorship, they have prepared to shut down operations.

The announcement follows an investigation of an attack in December where sources in China hacked into G-mail accounts, targeting Chinese human rights advocates. “We have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.”

According to their statement, the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who advocate human rights in China “have been routinely accessed by third parties.. most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users’ computers.”

Drummond admitted Google’s reservations to the required censorship filters when they first launched their Chinese search engine in 2006, and stated on Tuesday that Google was “no longer willing to continue censoring our results on” 

Google plans to discuss operating an unfiltered search engine with the Chinese government in the next few weeks, “if at all” possible. “We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China.”

The BBC covered this morning’s press conference with the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu. Ms. Jiang stated that China “administers the Internet according to law,”  and reasserted, “China’s internet is open, and the Chinese government encourages development of the internet.” Her remarks were called a “holding statement” by BBC’s Chris Hogg, intended to defer comments until they could speak with Google representatives. Read the full article by BBC News, 1/14/2010.

Representing one of the human rights advocacy groups who have been targeted in cyber attacks, President of ChinaAid Bob Fu affirmed Google’s investigation. “We regularly received phishing e-mails in our accounts, and a several ChinaAid contacts have had their passwords changed by an external third party. On one or two very serious occasions, a message has been sent from one of our accounts to the media by someone outside our organization.”

“This issue of censorship and invasion of privacy is very serious, and we applaud Google’s willingness to break the silence on this issue.”

Bob Fu commended Google’s strong stance. “We praise Google for placing ethics and principle at the fore of their business decisions. This is a bold step that sends a strong message to the Chinese government that not all companies are afraid to stand up to Chinese censorship laws and demand the freedom of speech. We hope that other companies follow their example.”

ChinaAid urges other American and Western companies join with Google in standing up against China media censorship, to preserve the basic human right to freedom of speech.

Read the The Official Google Blog Statement by David Drummond, posted Tuesday, January 12, 2010.

This article cites information published by The Official Google Blog and BBC News, with all rights reserved.

ChinaAid Contacts
Tracy Oliver, Media Coordinator
Tel: (267) 210-8278, or [email protected]
Mark Shan, CAA Spokesperson
Tel: (267) 205-5210, or [email protected]
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