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China Slams Clinton's Call For Internet Freedom 235

Posted by timothy
from the need-another-snl-translator-sketch dept.
CWmike writes "China on Friday slammed remarks made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promoting Internet freedom worldwide, saying her words harmed US-China relations. Clinton's speech and China's response both come after Google last week said it planned to reverse its long-standing position in China by ending censorship of its Chinese search engine. Google cited increasingly tough censorship and recent cyberattacks on the Gmail accounts of human rights activists for its decision, which it said might force it to close its offices in China altogether. On Thursday in Washington, DC, Clinton unveiled US initiatives to help people living under repressive governments access the Internet for purposes such as reporting corruption. The US will support circumvention tools for dissidents whose Internet connections are blocked, she said. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu called for the US 'to respect the facts and stop using the issue of so-called Internet freedom to unreasonably criticize China.' China's laws forbid hacking attacks and violations of citizens' privacy, the statement said, apparently referring to the issues raised by Google."
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China Slams Clinton's Call For Internet Freedom

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  • Color me skeptical (Score:4, Informative)

    by Third Position (1725934) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @05:46AM (#30868202)

    Google cited increasingly tough censorship and recent cyberattacks on the Gmail accounts of human rights activists for its decision, which it said might force it to close its offices in China altogether.

    Maybe, but I wouldn't bet the ranch on it. [wsj.com]

  • by faragon (789704) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @05:51AM (#30868216) Homepage
    If Google, because etics, is willing to lose such market as China, could get a huge credibility and respect increase (kudos, Google). Unfortunately, I'm skeptical about it.
    • by naz404 (1282810) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @06:13AM (#30868294) Homepage
      I have a friend in Shanghai, and it sucks because when I send him video links on Youtube, he can't view them because they're firewalled from Youtube.

      Kudos for giving countries like this access to freedom of information.

      It's like being only allowed to watch State-sponsored TV and government approved books in libraries, and then suddenly being allowed to experience the wealth of the world.

      4chan and the dark underbelly of the internet aside, I hope this gives people a taste of culture/information other than what's force-fed down their throats and see what they're missing out on.
      • by Jahava (946858) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @06:40AM (#30868398)

        It's like being only allowed to watch State-sponsored TV and government approved books in libraries, and then suddenly being allowed to experience the wealth of the world.

        Yeah ... it's not just like that. It's exactly that :)

        4chan and the dark underbelly of the internet aside, I hope this gives people a taste of culture/information other than what's force-fed down their throats and see what they're missing out on.

        The Internet is about way more than culture. It provides individual access to the sum wealth of human information. Good, bad, underbelly, culture ... those are all subjective. That's the beauty of it. By providing the individual with the opportunity to access any information, but not requiring them to access any specific information, the Internet provides an individual with unprecedented potential. They can do exactly what they want with that potential, be it 4chan, China-like censorship, or full-fledged involvement in mainstream cultures.

        Maybe many of the people in China love their country's protective hand. We'll never know until they can choose whether or not to have it.

    • by naz404 (1282810) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @06:23AM (#30868330) Homepage
      I really love what Hillary Clinton said in the article:

      "Ultimately, this issue isn't just about information freedom -- it is about what kind of world we want and what kind of world we will inhabit," she said.

      "It's about whether we live on a planet with one Internet, one global community and a common body of knowledge that benefits and unites us all, or a fragmented planet in which access to information and opportunity is dependent on where you live and the whims of censors."


      Really lovely and Charles Stross-ian, brings a tear to my eye :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        Really lovely and Charles Stross-ian, brings a tear to my eye :)

        Kind of makes you wonder who wrote those words, eh? Or is Hilary the only politician without writers?

      • Those people really lack diplomacy, freedom is not seem the same way everywhere in the world which makes the use of that word to have different meanings.

        I don't see the US supporting the freedom in the internet to selling illegal drugs, sending spam, prostitution, DMCA, ...

        Likewise is totally acceptable that other countries impose restrictions to Internet use where there is concern to that community, like to pornography until issues of age checking and privacy are addressed.

        Surely China's censorship is outr

      • by Scrameustache (459504) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @12:07PM (#30870054) Homepage Journal

        a fragmented planet in which access to information and opportunity is dependent on where you live and the whims of censors."

        Yeah, it's touching... it's also empty bullshit. When ACTA [techdirt.com] comes into effect, Hilary will be pushing hard to enforce the whims of her censors.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Xeno man (1614779)
      Ethics may be a part of it but time and money will be a larger part of it. If you need to have an entire office of people to run China's version of Google, spending man hours on complying with every government request and policy and continually undoing what Google does (it finds stuff), there comes a point when it's just not worth the effort. Then you find out that the government that you have been bending over backwards for just to please enough to allow you to do business hacks your machines just to get m
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 23, 2010 @05:54AM (#30868224)
    Google is not the only organization that is sick and tired of China's hacking and industrial espionage. After seeing in my logs hundreds of hacking attempts a day that originate in China, it really sucks that we cannot just cut them off the Internet. If they attached anywhere near the interest in stopping the hacking that they did in prosecuting the people who dealt in porn, the problem would stop overnight. They supposedly have the most sophisticated government firewall in the world, but they cannot spot and stop these continual hacking attempts? Obviously the Chinese government is behind this hacking activity.
    • Oh come now. Think of it as natural selection, weeding out the less competent network security policies and practitioners. Those that remain will be stronger, faster, and smell better between showers.

      If Google can fend off the People's Army, then your Gmail account is probably pretty proof against plain old identity thief hackers from Chicago. So this is good news!

    • by x2A (858210) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @06:40AM (#30868408)

      Originating from China... so that narrows it down to what, one sixth of the worlds population? Can you see any problem with your argument?

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        Most of that one-sixth of the worlds population cannot read the only language I can read/write in. I think it's less of a deal than you might think.

        • by x2A (858210)

          Well that shifts it away from the one sixth figure... but as much of the rest of the world can't either, that shifts it back.

          Attacks I deal with tend to come out of the middle east, but to be fair, there's a high chance it's coming from someone with a compromised machine just proxying the attack, so I try not to hold it against the country of origin. I've been at the other end of that once, net cut off 'n stuff, tho my machine wasn't compromised, they just hadn't thought about the fact that having an IP add

          • by Neoprofin (871029)
            Mandrin Chinese is the most common first language in the world, but I'll give you a guess what the most common second language in the world is, and I bet the percentage is even higher among young, computer literate, internet users.
      • by Neoprofin (871029)
        To be fair a very large portion of that population (75% [internetworldstats.com]) have no internet access. 360M is still a lot of users, but it's a lot less than a billion.
        • by x2A (858210)

          Cheers, I was interested in the figures but not quite enough to have searched yet :-)

          If you notice though, the total world population % with access to the internet is 1.3% lower than China's reported figure, so the figures pretty much balance out, whether looking at online figures or total population figures, it's about a sixth either way. Haha I was kinda banking on the the figures for the rest of the world balancing it out, as I did see that counter argument coming, I couldn't've hoped for them being only

  • by Jaden42 (466735) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @05:54AM (#30868226)

    Talk about a non-responsive response: "Our rules don't allow for hacking and violations of citizen's privacy".

    Considering the state of privacy there, they certainly aren't lying.

  • So when... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lattyware (934246) <gareth@lattyware.co.uk> on Saturday January 23, 2010 @06:14AM (#30868304) Homepage Journal
    Does Australia get no Google? And the UK, we are getting pretty poor at this freedom thing.
    • Re:So when... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jahava (946858) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @06:33AM (#30868376)
      When it as a nation performs attacks on Google's servers...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by x2A (858210)

        Google said the attacks "originated from within China". They said there were "sophisticated attacks" against human rights activists, which involved accessing their accounts by use of the "correct username and password". I have yet to find where they have said there is any evidence to believe it was the Chinese government "as a nation" who carried this out, despite what news outlets have said (like they'd ever blow something out of proportion or report something uncertain as being certain). Originating in Ch

        • by dwater (72834)

          No, you're not the only one. I offer the following points :

          1. The servers hacked where those whose purpose was to supply email headers to the US government. Why shouldn't the Chinese gov get them too?
          2. Google hacked into the computer from which they claim the attacked originated. Why is *that* ok?
          3. Most spam is sent *via* hacked Chinese servers and if Google managed to hack into it, why couldn't anyone (including the Chinese dissidents themselves)?

          I'd be much more likely to listen to Google and their thre

          • by haruchai (17472)

            Just because Google is in second place doesn't mean they're doing poorly - 29% of a market of 300+ million online users is
            pretty darn good. If you think that's "irrelevant", have a look at the market share of the 8 or so other search engines that
            operate in China.

            • by dwater (72834)

              I think it's irrelevant to Chinese people, no matter what the %. If Google disappears, they'll just use one of the other ones. I really don't think many people there actually *like* to use Google in the way that people in the US seem to.

              It's relevant to Google, of course; and I suppose the figure itself might seem to suggest some success, but I don't think that's the whole story either...it's just search. I wonder what the figures are for Google's other services and the impact for their real income - they'r

          • by x2A (858210)

            I'm not saying I agree with your conclusion, as I don't believe there's evidence either to suggest that... there's enough motive to go round an awful long way, it's just as wrong to suggest it was any one of them without presenting reason to believe one motivated party were responsible over another motivated party... BUT... did ya notice how Google's (well, I read the original blog, not sure how much that's a corporate vs personal statement, but I'm guessing it was pretty google) statement, they had to kind

            • by dwater (72834)

              > how come people don't do that?!! It's not hard!!

              Well, there's one obvious answer to that...ie is hard because there is no other information...though I think I gave you some that seemed to be missing from your original post, though I guess you knew it already.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by MunchMunch (670504)
            Some points about Google's motivation to leave:

            1. 30% market share in the incredibly anti-foreign-business Chinese market is not just a success, it's an incredible success. China typically favors local companies both above and below the board. Any foreign business trying to break into China would kill for that market share in their relevant market. Yahoo or Bing would kill for that share. The idea they would just leave because they weren't the leader is not simply hard to believe, it is completely ir
        • by russotto (537200)

          Google said the attacks "originated from within China". They said there were "sophisticated attacks" against human rights activists, which involved accessing their accounts by use of the "correct username and password". I have yet to find where they have said there is any evidence to believe it was the Chinese government "as a nation" who carried this out

          Google isn't going to say that outright as long as they have employees in China. You're supposed to connect the dots.

          Verisign, on the other hand, apparent

    • I was wondering about that. Will the US now be helping me get around the IWF's censorship attempts? I've not actually been blocked by them from anything that I want to see, but since (by law) they are not actually allowed to look at the things they are censoring to see if they really are illegal, it's only a matter of time. With the US government be running state-sponsored TOR nodes with enough bandwidth to push everyone's surfing through?
  • by ionix5891 (1228718) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @06:25AM (#30868346)

    or we might use our tectonic weapon [digitaljournal.com] on them :O

  • by afflatus_com (121694) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @06:48AM (#30868446) Homepage

    I am actually currently in China. Sites which are carte-blance blocked include: Facebook, youtube, wikipedia, blogger.com (as a side note: Wikipedia really is useful--reminded of that now that it is not available).

    The reason for blocking Facebook and company is because they are starting to work for serious political change: see today's 'No Prorouge' rallies occurring today in Canada [and at worldwide Canadian embassies] after the Canadian prime minister leader cancelled the democratically-elected parliament for weeks--these rallies are a result of over 200,000 strong grassroots Facebook group support. Concurrent to that is an evaporation of that prime ministers lead in the polls versus the opposition party.

    • Then I would have found my new home :P

    • by solferino (100959)

      Sites which are carte-blance blocked

      Poor use of the term carte blanche which means full power, open sanction, free hand etc.

      • by Neoprofin (871029)
        And those are sites which are blocked absolutely, without any further clarification or influences just as someone who has been granted full powers operates.

        It's not a great use of it, but I wouldn't beat him up over it.
  • TFS: "On Thursday in Washington, DC, Clinton unveiled US initiatives to help people living under repressive governments access the Internet for purposes such as reporting corruption. "

    Quote [reuters.com]: "Corruption costs Afghans $2.5 billion a year, a United Nations agency said on Tuesday, with the scale of bribery matching Afghanistan's opium trade."

    Probably my poor logic, since Afghans do not suffer from a repressive government.

    CC.
  • by solferino (100959) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <mehczah>> on Saturday January 23, 2010 @06:56AM (#30868474) Homepage

    Clinton also called on U.S. businesses, particularly media providers, to fight censorship in the countries where they operate.

    "Censorship should not be in any way accepted by any company anywhere," she said. "American companies need to make a principled stand. This needs to be part of our national brand."

    This is very strong language. Google is getting full backing and all other US companies are being actively encouraged to follow their lead.

    • It is strong, considering that "censorship" does include US censorship. The Chinese are far worse about this, but given that child pornography, atom bomb plans, and cryptography have all been limited by the US government, we can't claim complete innocence. And US companies have accepted cryptography censorship as a part of selling software internationally for decades.

      I'm glad at Clinton's stand, but the devil is in the details. We'll see if this helps reduce censorship in the USA as well as in China and oth

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @07:07AM (#30868518) Homepage Journal
    Well... yeah, I am, actually. But I don't bet against Google. I also don't bet against China, which makes this dispute rather interesting. A company that willingly turns its back on a market of 1 billion people risks having its CEO bludgeoned to death by angry investors. At the same time, any entity that willingly cuts itself off from google also cuts itself off from one of the most amazing information tools ever invented. If I had to call it, I'd say both sides make angry mouth noises for, oh, 3 to 6 months and then quietly settles on a compromise that allows Google to pretend that they're not evil while allowing China to continue keeping information out of the hands of its citizens.
    • by Zackbass (457384)

      Why does everyone keep saying investors will be angry as a fact when as this has been happening Google's stock price hasn't budged. In fact, the only thing that's made it move lately is the signal that the founders (the guys you seem to think will be bludgeoned) are going to be selling stock to bring their stake to less than 50%.

    • A company that willingly turns its back on a market of 1 billion people risks having its CEO bludgeoned to death by angry investors.

      Google isn't like other companies, the majority of shares are still held by the founders, at least one of whom, Brin, has had personal experience with repressive regimes growing up. They can do whatever they like.

    • The problem is this false idea of 1 billion customers. Just because China has 1 billion people doesn't really mean anything. The reason is that a small percentage of them are in a position where they even could be customers.

      There are two Chinas more or less. The China you hear about in the news is the city China. Their cities, mostly along the eastern seaboard, are quite modern. This is where all the industry is and where people are seeing massive improvements in their quality of life. The rest of China? We

  • by oDDmON oUT (231200) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @07:13AM (#30868536)

    The MafiAAs receive carte blanche from the courts to abuse their customers, Net Neutrality simmers on the legislative back burner, allowing vertically integrating ISP's to throttle traffic in cavalier and arbitrary ways, as well as allowing them to merge with content providing companies to "better serve" their customers.

    But we don't have censorship, nope. But we don't give American internet users that tube of KY which'd help it all go down so much easier.

  • Wait, is that the same US that banned the internet poker? Now it wants something called "freedom"?

    Says one thing does the other?

    • by Neoprofin (871029)
      Internet poker was cut off for violating gambling laws. You're more than welcome to play poker online all you want if there's no money involved.

      Acceptable complaints about free speech in America (on the internet anyway) include:
      Child Pornography (unpopular)
      Beastiality (unpopular)
      Piracy (see above, not actually censorship)
  • "Australia on Friday slammed remarks made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promoting Internet freedom worldwide, saying her words harmed US-Australia relations. Clinton's speech and Australia's response both come after Google last week said it planned to reverse its long-standing position in Australia by ending censorship of its Australian search engine. Google cited increasingly tough censorship and recent cyberattacks on the Gmail accounts of human rights activists for its decision, which it said mig

  • by yuna49 (905461) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @09:39AM (#30869186)

    Evidence continues to surface about American and other Western firms cooperating with repressive governments in their efforts to censor and eavesdrop on their citizens. Why didn't Mrs. Clinton mention them in her speech?

    We have, for instance, Cisco [harvard.edu], Nokia/Siemens [wsj.com], Microsoft [bbc.co.uk], and Yahoo [bbc.co.uk], just to name a few.

  • Hah! (Score:2, Insightful)

    HAH! I love how China acts like they are innocent and all. "China's laws forbid hacking attacks and violations of citizens' privacy, the statement said, apparently referring to the issues raised by Google."" Riiiight. I'm also the Queen of England! China would NEVER hack anyone. The Chinese government is one of the biggest fattest LIARS ever. They constantly say one thing while time and time again they prove that they don't care about anyone's benefit but their own. Whether it is manipulating trade
  • China DDoS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Your Anus (308149) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @09:54AM (#30869266) Journal
    Given China's bottleneck of a firewall, I am surprised it hasn't been DDoS'ed. Routing their entire country through one node is an exploit just ripe for an attack.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They have several nodes going over the border, but they are all under common governmental control and hooked up to identical centrally-managed censorship equipment. A mixture of DNS filtering, IP filtering, and stateless TCP resetting filters.

  • New announcement from the Secretary of State: The Secretary of State will say what she wishes about Internet Freedom. And if Ma Zhaoxu continues to object, the State Department is NOT going to send the Secretary of State's husband over with the Dallas Cowgirls and a few cases of cigars. That is all.
    • by querist (97166)
      Clinton's only going to bring BACK cigars. They can get Cuban cigars in China. I brought some American cigars for a friend one time and he asked me about Cuban cigars, and it took the next 20 minutes to explain the embargo and why you cannot buy Cuban cigars in the USA. (I do not smoke, but he does.) Marlboros are very popular over there, by the way, so if you have Chinese colleagues in China who smoke, bring a carton of Marlboros and you'll do well.
      • by russotto (537200)

        If you really think Bill Clinton has any trouble getting Cuban cigars (likely absolutely legally), you're incredibly naive. The people in power always have loopholes for themselves. Anyway, the special thing about Clinton's cigars isn't where they were made, it's what he does with them.

  • Remarks by US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton on the occasion of the massive hacker attack on US companies by an unspecified national entity. Translated [newstechnica.com] for your convenience.

    On Monday, a seven-year-old girl in Port-au-Prince was pulled from the rubble after they sent a text message calling for help. The spread of information networks is forming a new nervous system for our planet. And even in authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable.

    Amid this unprecedented surge in connectivity, we must also recognize that these technologies are not an unmitigated blessing. These tools are also being exploited to undermine human progress and political rights. Just as steel can be used to build hospitals or machine guns, or nuclear power can energize a city or destroy it, the same networks that help organize movements for freedom also enable al-Qaida to ruthlessly copy American songs and movies in “M-P-Three” format.

    Freedom of expression is no longer defined solely by whether citizens can go into the town square and criticize their government without fear of retribution. No — they must be able to give their full name and credit card number and put them on the Internet as well. A connection to global information networks is like an on-ramp to modernity — one cell phone in a remote community can enable people previously unavailable access to Monsanto seeds.

    On their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress — but the United States does. We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas, paid for at 99 cents — I’m sorry, $1.29 — a song. And we recognize that the world’s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it.

    Now, all societies recognize that free expression has its limits. We do not tolerate those who incite others to violence or copyright violation, such as the agents of al-Qaida who are, at this moment, downloading songs at a furious rate, and setting their sights on cracking the patriotic protection of Blu-Ray discs. Those who use the internet to recruit terrorists or distribute stolen intellectual property cannot divorce their online actions from their real world identities.

    States, terrorists, downloaders and those who would act as their proxies must know that the United States will protect our networks. Those who disrupt the free flow of paid information in our society or any other pose a threat to our economy, our government, our civil society and our economy.

    Increasingly, U.S. companies are making the issue of internet and information freedom a greater consideration in their business decisions. The most recent situation involving Google has attracted a great deal of interest. And we look to the Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough review of the cyber intrusions that led Google to make its announcement. And we also look for that investigation and its results to be China signing the ACTA treaty like our campaign donors want them to.

    The internet has already been a source of tremendous progress in China, and it is fabulous. There are so many people in China now online. But countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of Internet users to be protected from being able to download any song ever released, any time, anywhere, risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century.

    So let me close by asking you to remember the little girl who was pulled from the rubble on Monday in Port-au-Prince. She’s alive, she was reunited with her family, she will have the chance to grow up and pay the going rate for a licence not a sale see end user license agreement of a song in a given format on a given device. We cannot stand by while people are separated from the iTunes store by walls of censorship.

  • China's laws (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ''China's laws forbid hacking attacks and violations of citizens' privacy"

    China's constitution also says all sorts of interesting things, such as freedom of religious worship, freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, association, etc. (Look up the "four bigs" and Article 35). The ability to exercise those rights is rather limited. Really, the whole thing reads like some kind of bad joke.

    Let's just say that the implementation and enforcement of China's laws leaves much to be desired, and when the law

  • yea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495)
    Harm US/China relations? We hate China... China hates us. They are stealing our jobs, subverting our government, having into our military instillation and business systems... stealing our intilectual property, subverting our monetary system by artificially manipulating their currency. They're dumping toxins into the air and water, not to mention into the toys and babyfood they sell us. They financially support North Korea, one of the countrys most likely to be involved in whatever event eventually destroys
    • by toriver (11308)

      They are not stealing your jobs, your psychopathic companies are giving the jobs away. There is a difference.

      "Intellectual property", apart from being a neologism for when laws intended to promote culture and science are abused to protect big business, is just a State-granted monopoly, and the U.S. did not respect foreign IP rights in the beginning either.

      When Americans start to pay the "premium" for manufacturing at home instead of choosing the cheap, toxic, Chinese alternative, you will have a point.

  • QUIT PLAYING AROUND (Score:3, Informative)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @11:28AM (#30869832) Journal
    Just boot China out of the WTO and drop their MFN with America. Look, CHina is NOT going to give freedom's to their citizens. Their move towards capitalism was to prevent their citizens from revolting. There is ZERO intention of ever restoring their freedoms. OTH, China is in a cold war with the rest of the west, and most likely with the world. Their goal is control. Even now, they had LEGAL obligations under MFN AND WTO, to which they have not honored any of it.
  • It was, instead, a very crude (embarrassing, for western standards) attempt at Orwellian revisionism substantiated by a direct threat. Their claim that Clinton's comments contradict their constitution just shows how worthless that piece of paper is under a dictatorship.
  • If it's a battle of proxies, rather than a battle of proxy wars, it might not be so bad.

  • by moxley (895517) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @12:12PM (#30870100)

    Many US politicians, corporations and intelligence agecnies loooove to talk about how China should allow internet freedom, while at the same time they're looking for ways to curtail our freedom online over here. Their whole wet dream is for the US internet to be like China's.

  • 6 feet underground, Henry Kissinger is tapping morse code on the casket lid, "Let me out, that fatass cow is going to get you all killed yet".

  • by shoor (33382) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @02:53PM (#30871320)
    I'm no expert on China, but when people start getting this touchy, it usually means they sense they're in trouble.

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