CNNIC censors news about their own statement

On April 1, 2015 Google announced that they will no longer recognize the CNNIC Root and EV (extensive validation) certificate authorities (CAs).

On April 2, 2015 Mozilla concluded that CNNIC’s behaviour in issuing an unconstrained intermediate certificate to another company was ‘egregious practice’ and that Mozilla products would no longer trust any certificate issued by CNNIC’s roots. Mozilla also published a more detailed report about their actions.

After unauthorized digital certificates for several Google domains were exposed by Google and Mozilla on March 23, 2015, CNNIC censored any mention of these posts. CNNIC is not only a certificate authority, they are also China’s online censorship apparatus. CNNIC was, is and will continue to practice internet censorship.

 

News about the April 1 and 2 annoucements has again been censored on social media and also on traditional media in China.

Below is a screenshot of Weibo posts about these announcements.

 

The first post in the screenshot is about Google revoking CNNIC. Notice that below the first post, there are three buttons while on the second post there are four buttons. The retweet function on the first post about CNNIC is missing. The Chinese authorities are getting more creative about how they prevent negative information from spreading! Later, however, the authorities resorted to ancient practices and the post was completely removed.

 

Even reports which appeared on traditional media websites, detailing how CNNIC were calling out Google for being “unintelligible”, have been censored.

NetEase’s report titled “Chrome and Mozilla revoke CNNIC CA” was deleted within two hours of publishing. NetEase is one of the largest Chinese internet service providers.

URL: http://tech.163.com/15/0403/08/AM8VPOLJ000915BF.html

 

Engadget Chinese's report titled "Google revokes CNNIC CA" is blocked by GFW 

URL: https://en.greatfire.org/cn.engadget.com/2015/04/02/google-cinic-certifi...

 

Sina’s report titled “Google’s decision is unintelligible and unacceptable says CNNIC” was deleted. Sina is the largest Chinese-language web portal.

URL: http://tech.sina.com.cn/i/2015-04-02/doc-ichmifpy5387951.shtml

 

Sohu’s report titled “CNNIC condemn Google ” was deleted. Sohu sits 44th overall in Alexa's internet rankings.

URL: http://mt.sohu.com/20150402/n410717100.shtml

 

Open Source China’s report titled “Google revokes CNNIC and EV root CAs” was deleted. Open Source China is the largest open source community in China.

URL: http://www.oschina.net/news/61141/maintaining-digital-certificate-security

 

Caijing’s report titled “Google revokes CNNIC CA; CNNIC says the decision unintelligible” was deleted. Caijing is an independent magazine that covers social, political, and economic issues.

URL: http://tech.caijing.com.cn/20150402/3854320.shtml

caijing.png

 

In fact, almost all reports about CNNIC’s loss of face have been censored in China. This is in addition of to the wide scale censorship of Google and Mozilla’s posts about CNNIC CA last week.

 

CNNIC said in a statement that ‘the decision that Google has made is unacceptable and unintelligible to CNNIC, and meanwhile CNNIC sincerely urge that Google would take users’ rights and interests into full consideration.”

We argue that CNNIC and the Cyberspace Administration of China’s (CAC) decision to completely block Google (and Facebook and Twitter and many more sites) is unacceptable and unintelligible to Chinese internet users. We do agree that Google should take users’ rights and interests into full consideration - revoking CNNIC is a great step forward for user privacy and security worldwide.

CNNIC has implemented (and tried to mask) internet censorship, produced malware and has very bad security practices. The Cyberspace Administration of China, which manages CNNIC, has maliciously been launching dangerous attacks that compromise sensitive information and hijack users to perform DDoS attacks. Tech-savvy users in China have been protesting the inclusion of CNNIC as a trusted certificate authority for years.

We applaud Google and Mozilla’s decisions to revoke the CNNIC certificate authority worldwide. We urge Apple and Microsoft to follow Google and Mozilla’s lead and revoke CNNIC immediately to protect their users.

 

FAQ

 

Do you think Microsoft and Apple will follow suit?

We do not expect Apple to do anything in this situation. Apple has always capitulated to the demands of the Chinese authorities and we expect nothing less from them in this instance. Microsoft have taken important steps to fight back against dangerous behaviour by the Chinese authorities and we hope that they will continue to do so in this instance.

 

If Microsoft and Apple do not do the same, would you recommend that people just use Chrome and Firefox when browsing?

Yes.

 

What does this mean for CNNIC? Will they continue to issue certificates?

Probably. Internet Explorer and Safari as well as all Chinese browsers still trust the CNNIC CA.

 

Will any new certificates be recognized by Google and Mozilla?

No.

 

If Google, Mozilla, Microsoft and Apple all revoke CNNIC certs then does that mean China won’t be able to stage any more MITM attacks?

All previous large scale MITM attacks have been staged with self-signed certificates. GFW can continue to use MITM to attack websites with self-signed CAs.

 

How long will it take for CNNIC to get back into the good books of these companies?

Google and Mozilla have asked that CNNIC implement certificate transparency before reapplying. If CNNIC implements this, anyone will be able to audit certificates issued by CNNIC in real time. So even though we may not trust CNNIC, we will not object to CNNIC being reinstated if they implement certificate transparency.

 

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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 https://applecensorship.com, 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 (https://twitter.com/KwokMiles), 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.

via https://twitter.com/KwokMiles/status/863689935798374401

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.

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