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

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


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,,, and are also currently unavailable in all Chinese provinces.

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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."