Google董事长:中国“防火长城”将垮塌

Google董事长埃里克•施密特(Eric Schmidt)相信,一旦中国的互联网检查制度破产,中国各地的信息渗透也将导致政治和社会的自由化,从而最终改变中国政府与平民关系的性质。

据Google董事长埃里克•施密特称,对中国的技术和信息渗透最终将迫使中国的“网络长城”垮塌,甚至导致中国体制在政治上的开放。

去年卸任Google首席执行官的施密特仍然是该公司的董事会主席和首席发言人。他在全球各地旅行,发表演讲,考察Google可以扩张业务的国家。他一直被称为Google的“世界大使”,他本人对这个外号既不支持,也无异议。在上周的2012年阿斯彭创意节间隙,他坐下来接受了《外交政策》“电报”专栏的长时间专访。

在被问及中国政府对互联网的检查能否持续的问题时,施密特说:“我相信这种检查制度最终将破产。中国是唯一对互联网进行积极的、强有力的检查的政府。他们并不以此为耻。”

施密特相信,一旦中国的互联网检查制度破产,中国各地的信息渗透也将导致政治和社会的自由化,从而最终改变中国政府与平民关系的性质。

他说:“我个人相信,你不可能用这种行为建设现代知识社会,这是我的观点。我想Google的大部分人会同意这一点。下一个问题自然是中国何时将出现变化,没有人知道这个问题的答案。但在一个足够长的时期内,我是否认为这种制度将会结束呢?答案是绝对肯定的。”

据施密特称,对中国信息自由的推动是与对经济现代化的推动同步的,而政府指使的检查对这两方面都有妨碍。他说:“我们强烈地认为,你利用这种活跃的检查制度是不可能建立起高端的、非常先进的经济的……这是我们的观点。”

施密特说,中国政府是世界上最积极地支持网络检查和网络间谍活动的政府,并由此产生了令人震惊的效果。Google与北京从2010年起就存在争执,当时该公司宣布其Google.cn网站不再对搜索关键词进行检查,并且把中国业务的骨干部分迁至香港。此举是在2010年Google邮件服务遭到一系列攻击后采取的——这些针对中国人权活动人士的攻击被广泛怀疑与中国政府有关。

最近Google采取了积极措施帮助用户对付政府的检查,例如在怀疑Google邮件用户的账户成为政府指使的攻击目标后提醒用户,并在用户输入可能被中国政府的检查过滤程序过滤掉的搜索关键词时告诉他们。

施密特并不把Google对国家指使的网络压迫的关注当作Google与中国之间的战争。他解释说,Google的政策着眼于帮助用户了解自己账户正在发生什么,以及给他们提供自我保护的工具。

他说:“我们相信应该赋予重视言论自由的人们以力量。今天明显存在的证据是:中国的攻击主要是工业间谍行为……他们想偷的主要是商业机密,然后才是人权问题,显然他们正在试图侵犯人民的人权。这是我们所知道的两件事情,但我肯定还有其他的事情。”

Google仍然有数百名工程师在中国国内工作,并在那里维持着迅速增长的广告业务。但是中国政府同样在下许多功夫,以便让使用Google在中国变得更困难。施密特说,有时候Google邮件服务一连几周运转缓慢,接着邮件服务又会神奇地恢复正常。中国检查人员常常对输入违禁搜索关键词的用户实施惩罚,冻结他们账户一段时间。而Google旗下的YouTube网站在中国是无法浏览的。

施密特说:“中国政府很可能会继续为使用Google服务制造障碍。那里的冲突是某种本质上的冲突:我们希望信息流入中国,而在某种本质的层面上,政府不希望这样的事情发生。”

同时,施密特一直在全球各地旅行,寻找扩展Google外部疆界的途径。他最新的一次国际之旅是去了四个正在发生冲突或者刚刚经历过冲突的国家:阿富汗、利比亚、巴基斯坦和突尼斯。

“我对那些特立独行的国家特别感兴趣,你知道,那些国家存在问题,”他说,“除非你去看看,否则无法真的了解那些东西。你的印象和判断会有所帮助的。”

施密特相信智能手机技术会对人们在一个变化的时代中的行为产生革命性的影响,他正在研究智能手机的使用如何帮助贫穷国家的人们与腐败和不良治理斗争。他也考察Google如何通过及时的商业行为扩张进入新兴市场。他说:“很显然,在大多数国家,最赚钱的生意首先是在电信领域。一个笑话是,你知道索马里的海盗也得使用手机,所以索马里最强大、增长最为迅速的合法生意是电信行业。”

施密特表示,阿拉伯之春革命证明了开放的信息系统可以鼓励和推动政治变革。他说:“我认为我们正在谈论的这些国家都有非常活跃的检查制度,而他们未能对互联网进行检查。他们窃听电话系统,控制电视报纸,除了在互联网上,很难发现真正的不同政见者的新声音。因此你可以想象当政府无法充分实施检查时会发生什么,这显然就是我们对于开放和透明有如此强烈感受的原因所在。”

与在中国不同,Google在世界其他地方采取了更为积极的态度,开发了可以被用来培养更为活跃的民众的信息传播工具,例如with its project可以在像埃及这样的地方组织和散发选举信息和政治候选人资料。

施密特说:“我们在为选举提供帮助。我们试图通过把信息传递给候选人来帮助选举,在这些国家里,Google处于公共领域的中心。”

Google也在扩大自己在汇编政府有关人员及其活动的信息汇编上的作用,以便帮助民众与腐败作斗争。但是在这个问题上,施密特说,只有存在起诉坏人的司法体系,这种信息才会起到改造社会的作用。

他说:“你需要信息,然后你需要有人愿意对说谎的人提出起诉。你所需要做的一切就是掌握信息,然后必须以公正的方式实施惩处,这将会大大改变这些国家。”

他表示,信息并不足以推翻政权,而阻挠信息开放的政权最后注定会倒台。

施密特说:“最糟糕的情形是民众拥有大量的信息,而政府完全无动于衷。例如,伊朗就是这样。有时候,这种情况是不稳定的。有时候,情况会恶化……但是在人们推翻当前的领导人之前,他们必须掌握达到这一目的的信息。这就是透明的重要所在。”

本文选自美国《外交政策》,原文标题:Eric Schmidt:The Great Firewall of China will fall

Posted By Josh Rogin  Monday, July 9, 2012 – 4:20 PM   Share

Technology and information penetration in China will eventually force the Great Firewall of China to crumble and even lead to the political opening of the Chinese system, according to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Schmidt, who stepped down as Google’s CEO last year, remains the head of Google’s board and its chief spokesman. He roams the planet speaking to audiences and exploring countries where Google could expand its operations. He has been called Google’s “Ambassador to the World,” a moniker he doesn’t promote but doesn’t dispute. He sat down for a long interview with The Cableon the sidelines of the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival last week.

“I believe that ultimately censorship fails,” said Schmidt, when asked about whether the Chinese government’s censorship of the Internet can be sustained. “China’s the only government that’s engaged in active, dynamic censorship. They’re not shy about it.”

When the Chinese Internet censorship regime fails, the penetration of information throughout China will also cause political and social liberalization that will fundamentally change the nature of the Chinese government’s relationship to its citizenry, Schmidt believes.

“I personally believe that you cannot build a modern knowledge society with that kind of behavior, that is my opinion,” he said. “I think most people at Google would agree with that. The natural next question is when [will China change], and no one knows the answer to that question. [But] in a long enough time period, do I think that this kind of regime approach will end? I think absolutely.”

The push for information freedom in China goes hand in hand with the push for economic modernization, according to Schmidt, and government-sponsored censorship hampers both.

“We argue strongly that you can’t build a high-end, very sophisticated economy… with this kind of active censorship. That is our view,” he said.

The Chinese government is the most active state sponsor of cyber censorship and cyber espionage in the world, with startling effectiveness, Schmidt said. Google and Beijing have been at odds since 2010, when the company announced it would no longer censor search terms on Google.cn and moved the bulk of its Chinese operations to Hong Kong. That move followed a series of Gmail attacks in 2010, directed at Chinese human rights activists, which were widely suspected to be linked to the Chinese government.

More recently, Google has taken an aggressive approach to helping users combat government cyber censorship, by doing things such as warning Gmail users when Google suspects their accounts are being targeted by state-sponsored attacks and telling users when search terms they enter are likely to be rejected by Chinese government censorship filters.

Schmidt doesn’t present Google’s focus on state-sponsored cyber oppression as a fight between Google and China. Google’s policy is focused on helping users understand what is happening to their accounts and giving them the tools to protect themselves, he explained.

“We believe in empowering people who care about freedom of expression,” he said. “The evidence today is that Chinese attacks are primarily industrial espionage…. It’s primarily trade secrets that they’re trying to steal, and then the human rights issues, that obviously they’re trying to violate people’s human rights. So those are the two things that we know about, but I’m sure that there will be others.”

Google still has hundreds of engineers working inside China and maintains a rapidly growing advertising business there. But the Chinese government is likewise doing a lot to make using Google difficult inside China. There are weeks when Gmail services run slow; then mysteriously, the service will begin running smoothly again, Schmidt said. The Chinese censors sometimes issue punitive timeouts to users who enter prohibited search terms. And YouTube, which is owned by Google, is not visible in China.

“It’s probably the case where the Chinese government will continue to make it difficult to use Google services,” said Schmidt. “The conflict there is at some basic level: We want that information [flowing] into China, and at some basic level the government doesn’t want that to happen.”

Meanwhile, Schmidt has been circling the globe looking for ways to expand Google’s outer frontiers. His last international trip took him to four conflict or recently post-conflict states: Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, and Tunisia.

“I’ve become particularly interested in the expansion of Google in sort of wacky countries — you know, countries that have problems,” he said. “You can’t really know stuff unless you travel and see it. It helps with your impressions and your judgment.”

Schmidt believes that smartphone technology can have a revolutionary effect on how people in the developing world operate and he is researching how smartphone use can help fight corruption and bad governance in poor countries. He also sees Google’s expansion into the emerging markets as a timely business move.

“The evidence is that the most profitable business in most countries initially is the telecom sector.  The joke is that you know the Somali pirates have to use cellphones, and so the strongest and most fastest-growing legal business in Somalia is the telecom industry,” he said.

The revolutions of the Arab Spring show that open information systems can encourage and enable political change, according to Schmidt.

“I think that the countries that we’re talking about all had very active censorship regimes, and they failed to censor the Internet. They wired the phone systems, the television was controlled, the newspapers were controlled; it was very hard to find genuinely new dissident voices except on the Internet. So you can think of what happened there as a failure to fully censor, and so it’s obvious why we feel so strongly about openness and transparency,” he said.

Unlike in China, Google has taken a more active role in other parts of the world by developing tools to spread information that could be used to foster more active democracies, such as with its project to organize and disseminate election information and political candidate data in places like Egypt.

“We’re helping with the elections. So we’re trying to help them with getting information to the candidates, and these are countries where Google is central to the public sphere,” Schmidt said.

Google is also expanding its role in compiling data on government actors and their actions to aid people in the fight against corruption, but here Schmidt warns that only when there is a legal system to prosecute bad actors will this data be transformative.

“You need the data, and then you need somebody who’s willing to prosecute the person who lies,” he said. “All you have to do is have the information and then the penalty that has to be applied in a fair way, and it would change these countries dramatically.”

Information is not enough to topple regimes, but in the end, regimes that fight the openness of information are doomed to fail, he said.

“The worst case scenario is the citizens have enormous information and the government is completely unresponsive. That would be Iran, for example. At some point, that’s unstable,” said Schmidt. “At some point, it gets worse … but before they overthrow the current leader, they have to have the information to do that. That’s why transparency matters.”

 

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