Google-China Rift Takes More Ugly Turns
It's been just two days since I last wrote about the Google-China soap (not soup) opera, and yet it feels like weeks, so much has happened in the interim. To wit:
Earlier this week, Google's U.S. corporate site suddenly displayed in Chinese. (A "bug," Google called it. Yeah, right.) On Wednesday, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook traffic was suddenly redirected to Chinese servers, allowing international Netizens a rare glimpse of how the Great Firewall operates. Some unknown parties apparently hacked one of the DNS Root Servers in Sweden, causing traffic to flow in the wrong direction. YouTube also went completely offline for about an hour on Wednesday morning (that one was due to "a technical issue," per Google).
[ Also on InfoWorld: Catch up on Cringely's take on Google's struggle with China in "Google: A bull in China's shop" | Google has another public battle to wage. See "Viacom vs. Google: As the Tube turns" | Stay up to date on all Robert X. Cringely's observations with InfoWorld's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]
Coincidence? No way. The nefarious machinations of the Chinese government? Maybe. My theory is that it's either pranksters out to cause trouble or techies inside China who are PO'd about Google's stance and flexing their geek muscle, independent of any top-down directives. In any case, I think we're about to see a whole more of this kind of thing before the dust settles.
Meanwhile, domain registrar GoDaddy is kicking up a little dust of its own. It announced it's no longer in the business of signing up people for .cn domains in China. The reason: The Chinese government's onerous requirements for registering domains, which includes providing photo IDs, identification numbers, and physical copies of signed documents for every registrant. Worse, GoDaddy says China wants it to go back and provide this data on its customers for the past six years. That's what prompted them to exit the mainland.
(The way Beijing acts, you'd think they were building the iPad.)
Yet both Wired and the ever-subtle Michael Arrington are calling GoDaddy's move "a publicity stunt," somehow equating it with the company's racy Super Bowl ads featuring NASCAR star Danica Patrick (all puns intended). So in other words, if you make sexy ads, everything else you do doesn't count. GoDaddy General Counsel Christine Jones explains:
“We were having to contact Chinese users to ask for their personal information and begrudgingly give it to Chinese authorities,” Jones told Congress. “We decided we didn’t want to become an agent of the Chinese government.”
“It would be very difficult to say we don’t track publicity at Go Daddy because we do,” Jones told Wired.com on Thursday. “This is not the Go Daddy PR machine cranking up. You can point fingers at us around the Super Bowl, but not here.”