CNNIC leadership change coincides with blocking of Gmail

On December 26, 2014, in an announcement posted on their website, a new chairperson for CNNIC was directly appointed by the Cyberspace Administration of China. The announcement of this appointment coincided with the complete blocking of Gmail.

Cyberspace Administration of China (中央网信办) is chaired by Lu Wei, “China’s web doorkeeper”. Lu Wei is also the vice chair of the Central Propaganda Department, according to his official resume.


This office is directly responsible for the blocking of Gmail and other websites including Facebook, Twitter and Google.

CNNIC is China’s certification authority and operates the country’s domain name registry. 

What are certificates used for?

Certificates are used primarily to verify the identity of a person or device, authenticate a service, or encrypt files. 

What is a certification authority (CA)?  

Certification authorities are the organizations that issue certificates. They establish and verify the authenticity of public keys that belong to people or other certification authorities, and they verify the identity of a person or organization that asks for a certificate.

Before September 2014, CNNIC was nominally led by the Chinese Academy of Science (中国科学院). This partly explains how CNNIC was able to convince large software vendors to trust them as a certificate authority. But now CNNIC is directly governed by an office that is directly in charge of censorship and GFW. Lu Wei and Cyberspace Administration of China report to Xi Jinping directly.

We have outlined CNNIC's dubious history in a previous blog post. Now that CNNIC is directly under the control of the office that is responsible for Chinese internet censorship controls, we again strongly encourage organizations, including Apple and Microsoft, to revoke CNNIC certificates.

In July 2014, Microsoft revoked their trust in a certificate authority operated by the Indian government. In an advisory posted on Microsoft's website, the company states:

“...improperly issued SSL certificates that could be used in attempts to spoof content, perform phishing attacks, or perform man-in-the-middle attacks.”

As we noted in our post about CNNIC, they have been complicit in or have allowed the man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks against Apple, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft in October of this year. In 2005, CNNIC produced award-winning malware.

Microsoft and others are likely hesitant to revoke CNNIC certificates given the message that this would send to the Chinese authorities. This kind of action would also likely generate considerable negative press for Lu Wei and his office. But we urge companies like Microsoft to consider what could happen if they do nothing.

The complete block of Gmail was likely related to the appointment of a new chairperson for CNNIC. Through this person, Lu Wei is continuing to build his profile as China’s internet czar and to centralise more of China’s internet administration under his direct control. Lu Wei has not been shy about sharing his thoughts on Facebook’s plans to enter China:

He (Lu Wei) unapologetically defended China’s need for stronger Internet controls at a trade conference in London in June, and at an October news conference in Beijing, he made it plain that an unfettered Facebook could not expect to operate in China.

“I didn’t say Facebook could not enter China, but nor did I say that it could,” he said.

--- from the New York Times

In the future, we can expect that censorship measures will be put in place on a more timely basis and that the authorities will be able to act much faster when controlling information which they deem to be sensitive.


More Blog Posts

Subscribe to our mailing list
Show content from Blog | Google+ | Twitter | All. Subscribe to our blog using RSS.

Mon, Jun 10, 2019

Apple Censoring Tibetan Information in China

Apple has a long history of censorship when it comes to information about Tibet. In 2009, it was revealed that several apps related to the Dalai Lama were not available in the China App Store. The developers of these apps were not notified that their apps were removed. When confronted with these instances of censorship, an Apple spokesperson simply said that the company “continues to comply with local laws”.

In December, 2017, at a conference in China, when asked about working with the Chinese authorities to censor the Apple App Store, Tim Cook proclaimed:

"Your choice is: do you participate, or do you stand on the sideline and yell at how things should be. And my own view very strongly is you show up and you participate, you get in the arena because nothing ever changes from the sideline."

In the ten years since Apple was first criticized for working with the Chinese authorities to silence already marginalized voices, what has changed? Apple continues to strictly follow the censorship orders of the Chinese authorities. When does Tim Cook expect that his company will help to bring about positive change in China?

Based on data generated from, Apple has now censored 29 popular Tibetan mobile applications in the China App Store. Tibetan-themed apps dealing with news, religious study, tourism, and even games are being censored by Apple. A full list of the censored apps appear below.

Thu, Jun 06, 2019

Report Shines Spotlight on Apple’s Censorship Practices in China

The newest Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index makes recommendations on what companies and governments need to do in order to improve the protection of internet users’ human rights around the world. Ranking Digital Rights (RDR) works to promote freedom of expression and privacy on the internet by creating global standards and incentives for companies to respect and protect users’ rights.

In their 2019 Accountability Index, RDR looks at the policies of 24 of the world’s most important internet companies in respect to freedom of expression and privacy and highlights the companies that have made improvements and those companies that need to do more. RDR notes that:

Insufficient transparency makes it easier for private parties, governments, and companies themselves to abuse their power over online speech and avoid accountability.

In particular, the report highlights how Apple has abused their power over online speech, and notes instances of this in China. According to the report, Apple has not disclosed data around the content that it removes from its App Store when faced with requests from the government authorities.

While [Apple] disclosed data about government requests to restrict accounts, it disclosed no data about content removal requests, such as requests to remove apps from its App Store. Apple revealed little about policies and practices affecting freedom of expression, scoring below all other U.S. companies in this category.

The report makes intelligent and sensible recommendations for governments. However, the recommendations also highlight how difficult it is to have these discussions with governments like China’s.

Thu, Nov 30, 2017

About those 674 apps that Apple censored in China

Apple opened the door on its censorship practices in China - but just a crack.

Tue, May 23, 2017

Is China establishing cyber sovereignty in the United States?

Last week Twitter came under attack from a DDoS attack orchestrated by the Chinese authorities. While such attacks are not uncommon for websites like Twitter, this one proved unusual. While the Chinese authorities use the Great Firewall to block harmful content from reaching its citizens, it now uses DDoS attacks to take down content that appears on websites beyond its borders. For the Chinese authorities, it is not simply good enough to “protect” the interests of Chinese citizens at home - in their view of cyber sovereignty, any content that might harm China’s interests must be removed, regardless of where the website is located.

And so last week the Chinese authorities determined that Twitter was the target. In particular, the authorities targeted the Twitter account for Guo Wengui (, the rebel billionaire who is slowly leaking information about corrupt Chinese government officials via his Twitter account and through his YouTube videos. Guo appeared to ramp up his whistle-blowing efforts last week and the Chinese authorities, in turn, ramped up theirs.


Mon, Dec 12, 2016

China is the obstacle to Google’s plan to end internet censorship

It’s been three years since Eric Schmidt proclaimed that Google would chart a course to ending online censorship within ten years. Now is a great time to check on Google’s progress, reassess the landscape, benchmark Google’s efforts against others who share the same goal, postulate on the China strategy and offer suggestions on how they might effectively move forward.

flowers on google china plaque

Flowers left outside Google China’s headquarters after its announcement it might leave the country in 2010. Photo: Wikicommons.

What has Google accomplished since November 2013?

The first thing they have accomplished is an entire rebranding of both Google (now Alphabet) and Google Ideas (now Jigsaw). Throughout this blog post, reference is made to both new and old company names.

Google has started to develop two main tools which they believe can help in the fight against censorship. Jigsaw’s DDoS protection service, Project Shield, is effectively preventing censorship-inspired DDoS attacks and recently helped to repel an attack on Brian Krebs’ blog. The service is similar to other anti-DDoS services developed by internet freedom champions and for-profit services like Cloudflare.

Subscribe to our blog using RSS.

Comments jaybhim songs

very nice articl keep writing Whatsapp Status every thing is bad

this post is awesome, great msg for us, plz update ur blog for daily basis, i am regular visitor of this site, so keep posting for us,

click the below links to create backlink
best free backlink website
click here for msg movie.

brotha very goo please write moreGood Friday 2015 ImagesGood Friday 2015 Pictures i like chinese alot cool ness

thanks for this post, keep it up for updating us, i am waiting for ur new article.

thanks again
IPL8 live stream 2015

Hii.., in my website you can get good friday 2015 quotes and all so that you can wish your family and friends so click here good friday 2015 and good friday message

It’s certainly fresh to writing and seeing concepts which are truly helpful to get the direction

mothers day 2015
mothers day 2015 quotes

awesome site like you alotLink2sd plus apk


Really interesting article i liked it and bookmarked. Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day

Happy New Year Sms 2016

happy new year 2016 advance

merry christmas 2015

Australian open live stream

Super bowl live stream here.

Good Bye Bye 2015 & Welcome 2016 Images Quotes Status Message goodbye thi year and welcomes newyear pictures wallpapers images quotes wishes and status for facebook & whatsapp

Merry Christmas 2015 Images

Merry Christmas 2015 Wallpapers

Happy New Year 2016 Greetings

I really like this post .
Latest Collection

i really like this post also visit Jeevan Labh Table No. 836

Thank you for the amazing info provided by you through this share. I hope to see more from you again.
bigg boss 9 winner


Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.