Eric Schmidt: Encryption will break through the Great Firewall of China

Eric Schmidt: Encryption will break through the Great Firewall of China

Summary: Google Chairman Eric Schmidt says the firm is intent on developing encryption services to "give people a voice" in strictly censored states.

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TOPICS: Censorship, Google, China
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Google Chairman Eric Schmidt says that the tech giant's encryption services could eventually open up countries with stringent censorship rules.

At the World Economic Forum at Davos, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, Schmidt said that countries including North Korea and China could be opened up within the next decade through encryption technologies.

"It is possible, within the next decade, using encryption, we would be able to open up countries that have strict censorship laws [..] giving people a voice," Schmidt said.

In China, YouTube access is totally out of the question, and Gmail is accessible sporadically. According to censorship monitor Greatfire's latest data, Facebook, Twitter, blogspot.com, netflix.com, bloomberg.com and liveleak.com are also currently unavailable in all Chinese provinces.

Hundreds of domains are banned by the Chinese government for a number of reasons. Websites are often blocked for violating Chinese laws on free speech, may contain "terrorist' content or pornographic material, and social networks are a target due to their user content sharing nature, which would be impossible for the government to control.

In the wake of rampant domain blocking by the Chinese government -- including a number of Google services -- as well as the surveillance scandal involving the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) thanks to disclosures by former contractor Edward Snowden, Schmidt says Google has been working to improve and strengthen its encryption. The tech giant hopes to eventually create protocols that governments won't be able to penetrate or spy upon.

"This creates a problem for governments like China’s,” Schmidt commented.

While the Google Chairman views the Chinese as equals in the realm of technology, he also blamed the country for most of the world's cyberespionage campaigns. In May, current and former U.S. officials said that when Chinese hackers broke in to Google servers in 2010, rather than seeking data concerning human rights activists, the attackers were actually looking for information relating to U.S. surveillance and law enforcement.

Schmidt added:

"Eighty to 85 percent of industrial espionage is thought to be done by China. It's a real problem. No other country comes close."

Topics: Censorship, Google, China

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12 comments
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  • Google trying again to be the "Good guy".. Well, i'm not falling for it.

    Clearly Google doesn't really care about "the voice of the people", all they want is to get into a market with millions of people actively spending money each day. China is growing and people are starting to spend. Google is trying to do ANYTHING to get into the market.

    Considering Google is forcing "Real name" nicknames everywhere and even leaking identifying data between their own accounts, tracking every move, recording audio through the browser (yes, every recording goes via googles servers first) and more.. - the days of "Don't be evil" are long gone.
    Mikael_Noone
    • Schmidt just wanna $croogle some more Chinese

      He can shove all that "good guy" fish oil right up his behind.
      LBiege
    • He should try to be the good guy

      And we get to debate extent to which he succeeds.

      Frankly, everybody should try to be the good guy; each according to his own conscience and abilities, with the understanding that where much is given, much is expected. The world would be a much more pleasant place to live if that's what actually happened.
      John L. Ries
  • Breaking through

    If encryption can be used to break through China's great wall of fire then I am all for it.
    randall.shimizu@...
    • VPN's are nothing new.

      It is currently possible to break through it, but it is of course up to the user to do it.

      I'm not sure HOW Google intended to do it, because no encryption that can't be stopped by shutting down the servers exists on the open net currently.
      Mikael_Noone
      • Or the Chinese could simply...

        ...block all encrypted traffic.
        John L. Ries
  • Ridiculous! They'll just censor anything encrypted! Duh!

    Forcing everyone to use ISP's controlled and monitored by the government -- who'da thunk it?

    Looks like the only thing Schmidt's claim accomplishes is getting publicity for Google!
    Rick_R
  • Eric Schmidt and Dennis Rodman: two of a kind

    "Schmidt said that countries including North Korea and China could be opened up within the next decade through encryption technologies."

    Wow, Schmidt has beat his dead horse so many times it has become tenderized (no dirty jokes, please).

    As I wrote in "The loony Kim Jong-un, the inscrutable Xi Jinping, the shrewd Eric Schmidt, and China's declaration of war in the East China Sea," Schmidt is only interested in making money in China and North Korea.

    China is a strange place with its crazy mix of capitalism and communism, but North Korea is another matter entirely. When someone there is caught watching a South Korean DVD, not only are they sent to a prison camp, the generations above and below that person are also sent there. North Korea would simply ban encryption and VPNs. People caught using either would be sent to a prison camp along with their relatives. Even using a VPN with encryption still allows authorities to determine the IP address and therefore the identity of the user.

    Schmidt does not care if he gets people killed as long as he receives a larger bonus.
    saucymugwump
    • I think Rodman is a fool, but...

      ...as long as he doesn't help the North Koreans fight us or our allies, he's allowed to be friendly with their leaders. I don't have a good sense of Schmidt's motives, but do-gooders in the business world are to be encouraged, as long as they're generous with their own money. and merely ethical with that of others.
      John L. Ries
  • Keyboard Encryption for PC / Mac and Mobile Devices

    #MobileKeyLoggingTheftSolution Google it and see Fb and G+ also we have a Patented FIX for #KeyLoggingTheft
    Charles Grooms
  • Arrogant fool

    Only an arrogant fool would believe he has the right to ignore and subvert the laws of sovereign states. Whether or not you agree with the laws of other countries (and regarding Chinese political censorship laws, I do not), you can’t simply choose which ones to respect. You either enter a country and obej the laws, or you stay out. Google’s contempt for EU law (e.g. privacy law) is already known, and so is their contempt for Chinese law. If they keep up their current approach, they’ll eventually make enemies of every government in the world (except maybe Washington, whom they’re probably in bed with anyway).
    WilErz
    • Somewhat agree

      Let Chinese corporations help the Communist Party oppress the Chinese (they're controlled by the Party anyway). If such is a requirement for doing business in China, then US corporations should stay out.
      John L. Ries