China slammed widely in US media on security, human rights

China was slammed on several fronts in a barrage of articles published today in the U.S. media that touched on security concerns related to the U.S. and Iran, plus a crackdown on Internet usage said to be unfolding within China.

The New York Times led with an article that says China's Communist leadership is proposing "new limits on media and Internet freedoms that include some of the most restrictive measures in years." The article describes actions by Chinese agencies to tighten control over entertainment shows on TV and a call for an "Internet management system" to "strictly regulate social network and instant-message systems, and punish those that spread 'harmful information.'"

IN THE NEWS: China detains Internet user for spreading rumors

This follows on the heels of an article from the IDG News Service yesterday that says, "Chinese authorities have started to detain Internet users for allegedly spreading online rumors, in the latest measure to control the country's social media sites."

Other news stories today raise questions about China and Chinese companies on security-related issues of concern to the U.S.

An article from Bloomberg, "China suspected in attacks on U.S. satellites," states that a report scheduled to be released next month by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission will include the claim that "computer hackers, possibly from the Chinese military, interfered with two U.S. government satellites four times in 2007 and 2008 through a ground station in Norway, according to a congressional commission."

The Bloomberg story contains a response from a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington that says the commission has "been collecting unproven stories to serve its purpose of vilifying China's international image over the years."

But in his own declarations about China today, Richard Clarke, former White House cybersecurity adviser and now CEO and security consultant for Good Harbor Consulting, speaks his own mind about China and hacking in a video posted on YouTube.

In the video, Clarke, while describing various kinds of cyberattacks, says, "Frankly, the government of China is involved in hacking into American companies and taking that information and giving it to Chinese companies. It means our intellectual property is going out the door in petabytes and terabytes."

In addition, a Wall Street Journal article today, entitled "Chinese tech giant aids Iran," details how Huawei Technologies is collaborating with the Iranian government on building a modern surveillance system at Iran's largest mobile-phone operator "that allows police to track people based on their locations of their cellphones."

The article notes that cellphone-based tracking is done in Western nations by law enforcement as well, a point made by William Plummer, Huawei's vice president of external affairs in Washington.

However, Iran's climate of crushing political dissent raises questions about how it can be used for censorship or surveillance of political opposition.

Iran is said to be beefing up surveillance of its citizens since antigovernment uprisings following the disputed elections of two years ago. A Huawei spokesman is quoted as saying Huawei is just supplying "commercial public use products and services."

The company refuted the assertion in the WSJ article from an unnamed source that says Huawei in 2009 "carried out government orders on behalf of its client, MTN Irancell, that MTN and other carriers had received to suspend text messaging and block the Internet phone service, Skype, which is popular among dissidents."

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

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