updated 09:37 am EDT, Wed June 4, 2014
Tech companies declared 'pawns' of US government surveillance program
Chinese state media is calling for the country's government to penalize US technology companies for their alleged roles in the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance row. The People's Daily and China Daily accuse companies including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple of helping the US government to monitor and threaten the security of users in China, asking for Beijing to "punish severely the pawns."
Reuters reports the People's Daily claimed the tech companies "are all co-ordinating with the PRISM program to monitor China" on its official microblog. "To resist the naked Internet hegemony, we will draw up international regulations, and strengthen technology safeguards, but we will also severely punish the pawns of the villain. The priority is strengthening penalties and punishments, and for anyone who steals our information, even though they are far away, we shall punish them!"
The technology companies in question continue to fight against the US government over the NSA and PRISM, leaked by Edward Snowden last year. Aside from resisting involvement in the surveillance efforts, the majority are also persistent in demanding more transparency between the companies, the government, and the users involved, with transparency reports logging the number of requests made by officials, including secretive National Security Letters.
"We cannot say this more clearly - The (US) government does not have access to Google servers - not directly, or via a back door, or a so-called drop box. We provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law," advised Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond to Reuters.
While the tech companies are being accused of helping the NSA with surveillance, a report in March suggested the NSA was doing even more on its own. "Operation Shotgiant" allegedly involved the NSA probing connections between Huawei and the Chinese army, including hacking the manufacturer's corporate network.
There is no mention of what provoked the demand by the People's Daily and the reprint in the China Daily, but there have been a number of incidents that may have contributed to it. Last month, the US government formally charged five military officials in the Chinese government's People's Army with "cyber-spying and espionage," alleging US tech companies were infiltrated for trade secrets. A week later, it was discovered visas to enter the US were denied for a number of Chinese hackers set to attend the DefCon and Black Hat hacker conferences, though it is unclear if the earlier charging had anything to do with the decision.
Tech companies are already feeling the weight of the Chinese government, though apparently for a different reason. The Next Web reports multiple Google services have been disrupted in the country in the run-up to today's 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests. LinkedIn is also reportedly suffering under similar issues.