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Why Is Dropbox Back On the Chinese Market? 46

Nerval's Lobster writes "Dropbox has renewed access to the Chinese market for the first time in four years. But why? The Chinese government first blocked access to Dropbox in 2010, most likely to prevent people within China from sharing data via the cloud. Now Dropbox is back online in China, albeit at slower speeds. Despite repeated queries from Slashdot, however, Dropbox has declined to comment on why China may have dropped the in-country restrictions to its services. "We still have nothing to share," the company responded after the third email. Dropbox isn't the only foreign cloud service available on the Chinese market (although Google Drive remains blocked): in late 2013, Amazon announced it would open an Amazon Web Services (AWS) region in the country; at the time, the Amazon Web Services Blog alluded to the "legal and regulatory requirements" that this new AWS region will obey. So questions remain: Did Dropbox know it would regain entry to the Chinese market? If so, did it need to agree to certain conditions before the Chinese government would "flip the switch," as it were?"
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Why Is Dropbox Back On the Chinese Market?

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    They already provide the same access to US intelligence agencies (who'll forward any relevant data to sufficiently large, ostensibly US but in practice international corporate interests). Why is it news that Dropbox does the same for Chinese wrt. Chinese customers?

    It might be news if they provided similar access to Chinese interests as they do to US interests.

  • Drop box has survived public humiliation and questions about its security and yet... Get this.. It still survives to this day.. Everything slips off drop box like it is Teflon coated.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Dropbox is waiting for a real tech site to contact them.

    • Precisely - why does Slashdot deserve a comment or response at all? Its a common journalistic tactic - ask for a comment, and when you don't get a response (why would every enquiry deserve a response?) then its a perfect negative thing to put in your story.

  • Slashdot Must be confusing it self with real journalism.

  • Really? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm in Guangzhou right now using Guangzhou Telecom (a region "branch" of China Telecom) with OpenNIC DNS and I can't access (CONNECTION_RESET, which is a typical GFW sign).

  • Look, we all know the answer to this.

    For Dropbox to get access to China, they have to allow the Chinese National Security Commission unfettered access to their resident's Dropbox accounts.
    • Easy to test by opening an account and upload some random files encoded with PGP. See how long it takes to have the account killed and/or State Security goons to show up at your door.
  • So it runs slower, and its open. This sounds like a honeypot server. Is there end-to-end encryption or is this an invitation built to enhance informed oppression?

    • "or is this an invitation built to enhance informed oppression?" - The FBI are pretty good at it: [] Perhaps that's where the Chinese get some of their ideas... or how about the DEA, CIA, NSA, etc.?

      It's just one empire running propaganda campaigns to criticise another. Just make effective surveillance circumvention tools freely available to everyone. Then we'll have to address the hysterical jumping around and shouting of the security agencies about terrorism, child pornograph

  • isnt it obvious? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @10:27AM (#46310705)

    they gave the chinese gov full access to their (chinese) user identities and file access. i would not be surprised if their china gov approved system is completely contained within china.

    • by jrumney ( 197329 )

      Their Government Data Requests Principles [] is a catalogue of the things they're forced to do that they don't like. The last one on that list would seem to apply to China (but I wouldn't be at all surprised if they've been forced to bend over on this one by US and other Western countries as well).

    • In the mid-east it is called baksheesh. In China it is "my son's company will help you with that."

    • by drolli ( 522659 )

      And that would be unlike the freedom from secret government surveilance we are used to in the free world.

      • And that would be unlike the freedom from secret government surveilance we are used to in the free world.

        here we can criticize, try to stop and (hopefully at some point) jail them. in china you get fast tracked to organ "donation".

        • by drolli ( 522659 )

          Yeah, thats funny.

          Criticising the gouverment in the internet or sharing some documents is *not* enough to be fast tracked to organ donation in China.

          China may not be perfect in terms of human rights but it for sure gets better and better in average.

  • FTFA: "We still have nothing to share," the company responded after the third email. Isn't dropbox a website for sharing stuff? Seems strange.
  • by CritterNYC ( 190163 ) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @10:39AM (#46310747) Homepage
    The answer is obvious and pretty simple, both Dropbox and Amazon likely give the Chinese government complete access to everything that passes through those servers in China. That's the only way the Chinese government would allow them entry.
    • by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @10:51AM (#46310801)

      The timing is suspicious, given the mail they just sent out to all their users updating the TOS with an additional "Government Data Request Principles" section.

    • That's right, and I would imagine the people of China know this, and act accordingly.

      China's got the right idea when it comes to censorship and monitoring of the internet. They are a ?communist? country so they have the right, or even the responsibility to monitor how people use public utilities. As for America and the NSA, they claim to be an open society with a government of the people, for the people, yet they increasingly treat those same people as criminals and terrorists for doing simple things like

    • My guess is that they'll simply disable SSL for chinese users or perhaps provide a local SSL key to China, so that China's censoring system will be able to log all the traffic.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Near the end of January I noticed that I didn't have to connect to my VPN for my home computer Dropbox to sync. But it's on and off. When it's on, the speed isn't throttled; I get the same slow speed I get to any US server (although my 50 Mb/s connection to APA is generally better than anything I get in the USA).

    At work, of course, we have a privileged connection to the outside world, because we're one of the largest non-Chinese companies in the world, and we give a lot of money to China.

  • by longk ( 2637033 ) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @10:50PM (#46314009)

    This question is very easy to answer if you know why dropbox was blocked in the first place.

    Get this:
    * I was living in China, happily using Dropbox.
    * Suddenly Dropbox tells me it can't connect.
    * Did some digging with tcpdump, traceroute, etc. You know. Nerd stuff.
    * Turns out that our of Drop boxes entire IP range, only 1 IP was blocked.
    * This IP happened to be the login or authentication server that the client occasionally connects to.
    * As it happens, the SAME IP was used for Dropbox website.
    * It seemed likely to me that the website was the target of the block, not the login server for the client.
    * So I check the Dropbox forum on its website (using VPN) and what do I see there: SONG TEXTS OF TIBETAN NATIONALISTS

    Yes, so Dropbox was blocked because some nitwit decided it was a good place to post some pro-tibet/anti-china texts. How do you get unblocked in China? Remove the offending text and change your IP address (or wait a really long time.)

  • I wouldn't return your request for an interview/ more details either.

  • Dropbox just changed its Terms of Service. Related?

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein