updated 07:50 pm EDT, Sun March 20, 2011
Google says China attacking Gmail
Google on Sunday accused the Chinese government a second time of hacking into Gmail accounts to suppress dissent. Over the past month, Chinese customers alone have had numerous problems sending or flagging messages. Activists were allegedly the main targets, but this time the attacks were deliberately obscured to make it seem as though it was a service glitch, Google's response to Guardian inquiries said.
China had yet to officially respond to the accusations. In the past, the government has denied any involvement of its own, even after Google said it could trace the original attacks to a university China has regularly used to recruit its cyberwarfare teams.
The course of action from this point isn't clear but could further deteriorate Google's presence in China. After the January 2010 incident, Google pulled out its search engine from mainland China after saying it would no longer censor search results. To still try and get around filtering, it redirected requests to Google Hong Kong, where the lessened restrictions let Google operate freely. China can still exert a large amount of control over what gets through.
If Google plans a further withdrawal, it could jeopardize the adoption of Android, which local carriers and phone makers like Lenovo, Huawei, and ZTE use. These companies depend on it to keep prices low and allow customization, but the Chinese government has authority to dictate what platforms they could use.