January 15, 2010
Tibet: Tibetan Activist among Google Hacking Victims
Tibetan activists also among victims of Chinese hacker attacks on Google.
Below is an article published by Phayul.com:
It is not just human rights activist in China whose GMail accounts were hacked, according to a New York Times report which said a Tibetan student of Stanford University, and an activist of Students for a Free Tibet, was asked by university officials in early January to contact Google as her GMail account had been hacked, indicating that “Google was notifying activists whose e-mail accounts might have been compromised by hackers,” even before it made public its threat to pull out.
Tenzin Seldon, 20, said she immediately contacted David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer.
“David informed me that my account was hacked by someone in China,” Ms. Seldon told NY Times in a telephone interview. “They were concerned and asked whether they could see my laptop.”
Ms. Seldon immediately changed her password and became more careful of what she wrote. She also allowed Google to examine her personal computer at the company’s request. Google returned it this week, saying that while no viruses or malware had been detected, her account had indeed been entered surreptitiously.
Google had confirmed Ms. Seldon’s account of events, but declined to say whether it had notified other activists who might have been victims of hacking.
Google’s description of the attacks closely matches a vast surveillance system called Ghostnet that was reported in March by a group of Canadian researchers based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto. They found that an automated espionage system based in China was using targeted e-mail messages to compromise thousands of computers in hundreds of governmental organizations. In each case, after the computers were controlled by the attackers, they were able to scan for documents that were then stolen and transferred to a digital storage facility in China.
Meanwhile, there is a mixed response among the Tibetan exiles who protested Google in 2006 when it collaborated with the Chinese government in its censorship efforts by launching a custom-built web search engine that blocks users in China from accessing information about Tibet, human rights, and other topics sensitive to Chinese government.
While some Tibetans and their supporters welcomed Google’s threat to pull out of China saying it was “late but right” others thought a corporate like Google will always be driven by profit. Tenzin Rabgyal, a Tibetan Internet user, hopes it is not just a threat. “I hope Google actually does pull out, I hope it is not just a toothless bite on China.”
Vijay Kranti, a long time friend of Tibet and a veteran Indian journalist, writes on his facebook page, “Don't be too happy over this new googlie (a term used for a bowling style that fakes a batsman in the game of cricket) from Google. After all they are nothing more (or less) than a corporate. This decision did not come out of their love for freedom or free expression. Its only profit and the face needed to make profit that is the real motivator. They've been making money in China and loosing face in rest of world during the past 4 years. Now that they've made enough profit in China they are coming back to us, once again for more profit. Let us wait and watch.”
Google has China trapped in its four-year operations and made China dependent on it by collaborating with China in censorship to start with; today as it threatens to withdraw, it has done already the biggest damage to the corrupt Chinese dictators by withdrawing the censorship, leaving the regime naked, exposed of its 60 years of lies, lies and lies, says Tenzin Tsundue, Tibetan independence activist. "The internet blindfolds of the 350 million users in China - worlds largest - has been removed, this will open up China. But then why did Google take the U-turn? Why now? 'Cyber attacks' on the internet monster Google sounds too petty an excuse. I also have complaints, but I have nothing to withdraw from China."