Dont let Google fool you…

I have heard much praise or Google over the last week exalting their decision to discontinue their filtering of search results for searches originating in China. In case you didn’t know, Google has a large corporate presence in China and in order to do business there had agreed to go along with the state controlled censorship for search results. However, last week Google announced that it came under a cyber attack by Chinese attackers back in December of 2009. Then last week in response, Google made this statement, in which a couple things struck me. They state:

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


Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.

What I find most interesting and unfortunate is that the bulk of the coverage looks like this in which he coverage focuses largely on how

The final straw, it said, was the hacking of information stored on its servers that targeted human-rights activists.

Google effectively has the largest distributed computer network in the world and undoubtedly knows a thing or two about cyber warfare/security. Out one side of their mouth they claim a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack”. Then out the other they say “Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed”. Do they expect us to believe that their decision to fundamentally change the way they do business in the most populous country in the world is about hackers gaining “limited” access to account information of two users? Either Google does not know what a highly sophisticated attack is or they’re not being honest.

Make no mistake about it. This decision by Google is not a morally based stance against a communist regime controlling its dissonance. It about the intellectual property and being spied on and stolen from. Google cares about dollars not detractors. Google got punched in the wallet and they’re pissed off.

Thankfully later in the LA Times article referenced above Jessica Guynn gets to the heart of the matter, perhaps a bit late but nonetheless points out:

Siva Vaidhyanathan, associate professor of media studies and law at the University of Virginia who is writing a book about the Internet giant, cautioned that Google wasn’t so much taking a stand against censorship as a stand against cyber-spying.

“Google deserves tremendous thanks and applause for standing up for the integrity of the Internet. But the free-speech part of this story is merely window dressing. We have to be careful about what we applaud Google for.”

The bottom line it that Google in now doing more right in China than they were before. That is a good thing. But don’t be confused or misled about why they are doing it.

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