Action is needed at the global level to ensure that cyberspace doesn’t slip into a new dark age
Google’s announcement that it had been hit by cyberattacks from China and that it’s reconsidering its services in that country has smacked the world like a thunderclap: Why the drastic move? How will China respond? Will other companies with interests in China, such as Microsoft and Yahoo, follow suit? What does it mean for the future of cyberspace? Continue reading
There has been quite a lot of coverage of Google’s statement concerning the attacks it experienced and its reconsideration of its service offerings in China. Google made reference to our Ghostnet investigation, and felt that there might be a direct connection between the two. At this point, and with the evidence at hand, we believe they are similar in nature, but probably distinct attacks. Much more, I’m sure, will be revealed in weeks to come. Citizen Lab associates have been commenting on the attacks and the wider implications in the press and elsewhere. Below are some selected sources:
I recently gave a Policy@Google Talk on December 8th 2009 at Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA. The talk was an overview of Internet censorship patterns worldwide, with a focus on the work of the OpenNet Initiative and some references to challenges around circumvention technologies. Google’s Free Expression point person, Bob Boorstin introduces….
1. We were told that the banner had to be removed because of the reference to China. This was repeated on several occasions, in front of about two dozen witnesses and officials, including the UN Special Rapporteur For Human Rights, who asked that I send in a formal letter of complaint.
2. Earlier, the same officials asked us to stop circulating a small invite to the event because it contained a mention of Tibet. They even underlined it in showing it to me. Because the event was just about to start, we said that we would not be distributing any more of these invitations so it was a moot point.
3. We asked repeatedly to see any rules or regulations governing this act. They did not give us any, only referring to the “objections of a member state.”
4. There were in fact many posters and banners in many of the rooms that I attended, including others in our own. The video itself shows us, at one point, taking one of the other posters we have and offering to cover up the original one. They objected to that and told us this banner must be removed.
On another matter of clarification:
The UN officials did not throw the banner on the ground. They asked us to remove it and one of our staff placed it on the ground for us to consider what to do. That’s where we had the discussion. When we refused to remove it, their security guards bundled it up and took it away.
I wrote a comment piece for the Globe and Mail today, which can be accessed here
In a time when every person’s digital life is now turned inside out and electronically dispersed and disaggregated, does it really make sense to think solutions lie in adding to that flood? Law enforcement and intelligence don’t need to sidestep court protections and civil liberties to meet the challenges of cyber crime – they need a new investigatory paradigm.
A basement in the gray, Gothic heart of the University of Toronto is home to the CSI of cyberspace. “We are doing free expression forensics,” says Ronald Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab, based at the Munk Centre for International Studies. Deibert and his team of academics and students investigate in real time governments and companies that restrict what we see and hear on the Internet. They are also trying to help online journalists and bloggers slip the shackles of censorship and surveillance.
From the Committee to Protect Journalists, found here
“We have just finished our testing in 71 countries and have found evidence of content filtering in close to 40 countries,” said Ronald Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto and co-founder of The OpenNet Initiative. Cubans say access to online market site is blocked
The Information Warfare Monitor has released a report entitled Targeted Malware Attack on Foreign Correspondents based in China, authored by Nart Villeneuve and Greg Walton. The report adds some interesting details to recent reports of targeted attacks against foreign correspondents in China, including details on the command and control servers.
The report has been covered in a Globe and Mail story, found here.