Joseph Menn

A bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate on Tuesday would require the US to penalise countries that don’t do enough to crack down on cybercrime that attacks US individuals, companies or federal assets.

Backed by Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, and Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, the bill would have the president identify countries of concern and establish benchmarks for rectifying the problems. Read more

Richard Waters

How would you rather see the internet – strained through a filter or mangled by a censor?

With its attempt to score an end-run round the Chinese authorities today, Google is betting on the former. But Chinese officials, who are only now waking up to Google’s middle-of-the-night gambit, don’t sound so happy about the idea.

The Google calculation is straightforward. Redirecting all the search traffic from its local site to Hong Kong, beyond the reach of the censors, then bouncing the results back into mainland China, has two benefits. Read more

Joseph Menn

In what may be the first of many such formal disclosures, Intel included an unusual admission in its annual 10k filing to the SEC on Tuesday: It had been subjected to a “sophisticated incident” of computer hacking that might have been an act of “industrial or other espionage”.

The top semiconductor manufacturer said that the incident in question occurred last month, around the same time Google made a startling and more detailed announcement along similar lines. Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said there was no definitive link between the attempt to break into Intel and the spying campaign that targeted Google and as many as 30 other technology companies, including Adobe and Symantec. Read more

An editorial in Tuesday’s Financial Times says China’s policy towards technology companies shows it knows how to tilt markets to its advantage – to the disadvantage of others.

Whereas national security once required controls on what technology could be exported, today it increasingly requires a critical look at what is imported. If the world converges to the standards China requires, computers everywhere risk being at the mercy of its willingness to refrain from cyberattacks. A recent infiltration of Google’s systems, allegedly with Beijing’s involvement, puts that willingness very much in doubt.

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The reports from Beijing of signs of popular Chinese sympathy with Google’s threat to pull out of the country, in protest at censorship, are fascinating. I wonder whether those photos of wreaths being laid outside Google headquarters in Beijing, could one day be as famous as the statue of liberty photos, taken in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Read more

Richard Waters

“Whatever happens, they’re not getting out of China.”

That was the immediate reaction of one prominent Google rival to Tuesday’s announcement that the search company will stop censoring local search results in China, even if that means leaving the country.

Or is that actually what Google announced?

On closer reading, Google’s statement – made in a blog posting – may not be quite as clear-cut as it seems. Read more

Maija Palmer

Kai Fu LeeKai-Fu Lee’s time as president of Google China began with controversy, as Microsoft sued the search company for poaching him, then faced a countersuit by Google. His departure was a severe blow for Microsoft’s Chinese operations, and brought out the depth of the animosity between the two companies.

Mr Lee’s impending departure from Google has also sparked debate – not least because it is still unclear exactly why he is leaving and what he is going on to do.   Read more

Chris Nuttall

Joseph Menn, Richard Waters and Kathrin Hille report on Chinese internet censorship:

“This week, an open letter appeared on Chinese blogs and online bulletin boards. “Hello, internet censorship institutions of the Chinese government,” it said. “We are the anonymous netizens. We hereby decide that from July 1 2009, we will start a full-scale global attack on all censorship systems you control.”” Read more

Richard Waters

As a near total black-out of YouTube in China moves well into its second day, the feeling must be growing in Mountain View that Google is just not welcome in the Middle Kingdom.

If this is censorship, then it looks very heavy-handed. Unlike previous cases of YouTube censorship, which have often involved selectively blocking offending videos, this one is sweeping. Read more