Security

Google, China Spar over Gmail Hacking Accusations

Google and China are once again embroiled in a war of words. A newspaper that serves as the voice of the country's ruling Communist Party shot back veiled threats in response to Google's claims of government-sponsored hacks.

The Gmail accounts of several high-profile US officials were hacked, and Google has been publicly blaming Chinese hackers for the incident. The accounts of Chinese political activists were also targeted as well as officials across Southeast Asia and journalists.

It was revealed last week that the attacks appeared to have originated in Jinan, China. That location is significant because it is home to a major intelligence operation for the Chinese army. Thus, believing that the government itself was responsible for the hack is not too far-fetched.

China Isn't Happy With Google's Comments

The People's Daily said that Google's claims fed into the Western world's negative perception of the country. It said the claims were "spurious, have ulterior motives, and bear malign intentions." The commentary itself was written by an editor at the paper.

While the editorial doesn't come out straight with any particular threat, it does seem like China would take action if need be. "When the international winds shift direction, it may become sacrificed to politics and will be spurned by the marketplace," the paper says according to Reuters.

The relationship between the two parties has never been much better than strained. China threatened to block access to Google's mapping service over new state laws, and Google has already accused the government of instituting strategic blocking of its Gmail service.

Hacks Could Have Been Illegal

While there is not much we can do about Google services being blocked within China, if hackers actually peered into the Gmail accounts of US officials itself, that would be technically illegal. There's no telling what sensitive information may have been disclosed, although policies likely prohibit talk of such things on non-official channels.

In the same token, there probably is nothing we could do in that case either. These hackers could be convicted in absentia, or an extradition request placed with the Chinese government in order to have those responsible sent to the US in order to face the charges they'd be accused of.

Then again, if the government itself is responsible, why would they want to cooperate with such a request?

For more tech news and commentary, follow Ed on Twitter at @edoswald and on Facebook.

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