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Friday, January 15, 2010

On Rumors of China Attacks Targeting a Google Search Warrant Compliance System (and About Google Allegedly Already Lifting Censorship)

There were some rumors out there that the recent hack into the Google system originating from China actually attacked a program established by Google to comply with law enforcement requests.

Not knowing whether any of this is true, I asked Google: “MacWorld writes that you apparently have a system in place ’used to help Google comply with search warrants by providing data on Google users’. Is this true?”

A Google representative answers: “I haven’t read the article you quote, but that line on its own looks accurate to me. As a matter of company policy, we don’t comment on the specific structure or specific inquiries. What I can say is that we do have a team in place to help us comply with the law, much like any other company. When we receive a specific legal request, we first check to see if it meets both the letter and the spirit of the law before complying. And if doesn’t we can object or ask that the request is narrowed.”

Further rumors on the other hand, like a Reddit frontpage story and an article on German Spiegel, suggested that Google already stopped filtering the results for As I was still seeing the italic self-censorship disclaimer on specific results, i.e. wasn’t able to reproduce any of lifting of a block, I yesterday asked Google: “Did you already start partially lifting censorship?”

Google’s reply: “No. Per our announcement, we are continuing to operate in compliance with Chinese law. Over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.”

From news agency DPA in the meantime came the following (my translation): “Beijing remains steady in the battle between internet company Google and China about ongoing censorship. Foreign internet companies should keep to Chinese laws when going about business in China, foreign ministry speaker Jiang Yu told members of the press in Beijing on Thursday.” When questioned about hacker attacks against Google originating from China, Jiang Yu according to DPA said “The Chinese government opposes cyber attacks”.

In other news, some people have laid down flowers in front of the Google Beijing building, as documented in a photo set.

Please comment in the existing thread.

[Thanks and Stefan!]


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