Google: Vietnam Pulling Similar Anti-Free Speech Cyberattacks to China

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Google, probably still sore after its fight with the spiky Chinese authorities, has nevertheless opened a new front in its battle against Net censorship: It's discovered a huge cyberattack against people who contradict the Vietnamese government.

The discovery was apparently made as part of Google's ongoing investigation into the allegedly China-sourced hack attacks that prompted the entire recent Google versus China fiasco. According to Google, something like tens of thousands of email accounts of Vietnamese-speakers around the World were targeted using malware planted in particular Web sites.

The issue in question is bauxite mining in Vietnam, which is a politically and environmentally contentious issue—vocal activists around the Net are complaining about the government-backed efforts. And this just doesn't fly with the Vietnamese government, which practices similar tight management of Net freedoms as the Chinese powers do. Google's intimation is that the Vietnamese authorities are behind this latest free speech-quashing cyberattack.

Google's noting that it's exposing this news, because it should prompt users to "take cybersecurity seriously" and to "help keep free opinion flowing" around the Net and around the World. This is tantamount to a political agenda. Google is, of course, a global company, and though its successes vary from country to country, it's certainly the most famous search engine on the Net. The Net itself is global, obviously, and though nations like China try to fence off parts of it from their populations, Google would clearly prefer everyone to have access to everything online—this is positioned as a pro-free-speech stance, but if everyone could easily access Google, then the search giant certainly stands to make more money. This is also the reason behind Google's calling out of the uber-strict Australian Net censoring laws: Australia is obviously a developed, democratic nation...and some of these new policies reek of the same closed-mindedness about the Net as the Chinese—and Vietnamese—authorities hold dear.

So is this really a call for a free and open global Net? Yes, kinda...but never forget that Google's main agenda isn't political...it's to make money.

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1 Comments

  • David Dawson

    I think it's something to celebrate when ethical and business interests align. It's great that we make sure to delineate between those two motivations, but Google's desire to make money shouldn't be seen as cheapening of their ethical effort.