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Issue #1444      24 February 2010

China and Google

Internet corporation Google recently announced that it is considering pulling out of China, because of internet attacks on the email accounts of some of its individual and corporate customers from within China.

Google and the western media have suggested that the attacks took place at the wish of the Chinese government. However, there is no evidence to substantiate this claim. As William Lyn, the US Deputy Secretary of Defence, recently stated “It is very difficult to say with any kind of finality who originated an attack.” It is possible that the attacks were launched by individual hackers, or even by a hostile government.

China, which has the world’s fastest growing internet market, is extremely vulnerable to internet attacks, particularly by being swamped with protest messages over issues such as Tibetan independence.

In accordance with Chinese government policy, Google has built into its network a “spider” which intercepts wording associated with this and other issues, and which can intercept and remove entire websites or specific web addresses. It has now announced that it will cease to use this facility.

The Chinese government does not tolerate use of the internet for anti-government propaganda. It therefore uses an internet firewall, not only to protect itself from attack but also to block news or current events coverage which it considers hostile to its interests. The use of anti-government propaganda was a key element in the downfall of the former Soviet government, and the US State Department is now investing heavily in the development of technology to overcome the Chinese firewall.

The internet cold war

The antagonism over China’s use of the internet is part of the cold war between China and the west. In the US the FBI has claimed that there were 90,000 attacks on the US Defence Department system last year, and according to the Rudd government the Australian Defence Department is being targeted with some 200 attacks per month.

In some quarters these attacks were said to have originated in China. However, once again there is little if any proof. William Lyn commented: “One of the characteristics of the cyber threat is the wide diversity of actors that can pose a threat anywhere, from foreign states to foreign intelligence services to perhaps criminal enterprises and individual hackers.” Defence sites have long been favoured for attack by amateur internet hackers, and a few years ago a teenage hacker cracked a complex new encryption system within a single day.

In any case, the interception of defence information is frequent and is an integral part of international intelligence gathering operations. Western governments are just as involved in this as their political opponents. According to the internet security firm Macafee, China, France, the US, Britain, Russia and Israel have all developed “advanced offensive cyber capabilities”, to be used during major conflicts.

Google’s “human” face

According to Pravda correspondent Eric Sommer, Google is a key participant in the violation of human rights by the US government, for example in its operations in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Google supplies the “Intellipedia” core search technology, a highly-secured online system used by some 37,000 US spies and related personnel who share information and coordinate their activities.

The company has supplied search technology for servers used by the National Security Agency, which processes information gathered by US spies operating all over the world. The Google Earth software technology was developed by Keyhole Inc. That company was funded by In-Q-Tel, another firm funded and operated by the CIA for US spying and military operations. Google has now acquired Keyhole, and In-Q-Tel’s former Director of Technology Assessment, Rob Painter, has taken a key position as Google’s Senior Federal Manager.

Google’s close ally In-Q-Telis is now investing in Visible Technologies, a firm that specialises in “monitoring social media”, which can automatically examine more than a million discussions and posts on blogs, online forums, Flickr, Youtube, Twitter, Amazon and other systems every day. The technology scores intercepted items with a graded status, allowing the most significant to be read by human operators searching for information about events outside and possibly within the US, of interest to the CIA.

Sommer concludes: “…The US and its intelligence agencies have a long history of rogue operations intended to discredit governments or social movements with whom they happen to disagree. To see how far this can go, one need only recall the sordid history of disinformation, lies and deceit propagated by the US government and media to frighten people into supporting the Iraq war.

“Whether the attacks on Google email originated from the Chinese government, or from elsewhere, one thing is clear: a company that supplies the CIA with key intelligence technology, supplies mapping software that can be used for barbarous wars of aggression and drone attacks which kill huge numbers of innocent civilians, and which in general is deeply intertwined with the CIA and the US military machines, which spy on millions, that company cannot be motivated by real concern for the human rights and lives of the people in China.”

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