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Snowden Makes New US Snooping-on-China Allegations

Snowden Makes New US Snooping-on-China Allegations

Today in international tech news: Edward Snowden drops a new batch of U.S.-hacking-China allegations on the same day he flees China. Also: Google addresses the European Commission's ongoing investigation -- which looks increasingly likely to keep going on -- and Vodafone spends $10 billion on Germany's Kabel Deutschland.

Edward Snowden keeps 'em coming.

Snowden, the whistleblower who recently blew the top off U.S. surveillance programs by leaking information to The Guardian and The Washington Post, told the South China Morning Post that U.S. spies have been hacking into Chinese mobile companies to thieve text messages.

Snowden also alleged that the U.S. has hacked servers at Tsinghua University, which the South China Morning Post describes as "China's premier seat of learning."

Snowden reportedly produced documents that show cyberattacks occurring over a four-year period. The documents, which were disclosed June 12 but not reported upon until Sunday, list details of specific attacks, including dates and IP addresses.

The disclosure comes on the same day that Snowden reportedly fled Hong Kong for Russia. China had resisted U.S. requests to arrest him on espionage charges, and one has to wonder if the timing of this report was more than coincidence.

Snowden claimed that the National Security Agency has mined "millions" of private text messages and attacked Tsinghua, which works on "next-generation Web technology."

The accusations add some drama to the Snowden saga -- as if it needed any. The U.S. has been decrying Chinese hacking for months. Last year, the House Intelligence Committee released a report saying Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE should not be allowed to work on U.S. communications networks. Those suspicions were later corroborated by a report from security firm Mandiant. The U.S. lofted more cybersecurity allegations at China earlier this month.

With Snowden increasingly alienating himself from the U.S., the other big storyline is where the 30-year-old -- who had a birthday Friday -- actually is. Snowden reportedly left Hong Kong for Moscow on Sunday despite U.S. requests that China arrest him on espionage charges. Russia declined to submit to White House requests to send Snowden to the U.S. after he landed in Moscow.

Rumors surfaced that Snowden boarded a plane to Cuba, but those suspicions were supplanted by rumors that he would instead head to Ecuador or Venezuela. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is currently living in the Ecuador embassy in London, so the country has a track record of harboring whistle-blowing fugitives.

[Sources: South China Morning Post, Reuters]

Google on EC Probe: 'Scrutiny Comes With Success'

Google has presented a new argument in defense of its search business amid an ongoing antitrust investigation by the European Commission.

In April, Google heeded the Commission's demand for concessions by submitting a list of proposals designed to appease competitors' and regulators' grievances with the company, such as preferential search results for Google products and lifting content without permission, among other things. Alas, it looks increasingly likely that those concessions -- which are currently being subjected to a "market test" that allows competitors to weight in -- will be rejected.

Perhaps anticipating this rejection, Google published a blog post addressing the situation.

The company has been in discussions with the EC, noted General Counsel Kent Walker.

"We know that scrutiny comes along with success," he observed.

That said Google believes it did "a pretty good job" addressing Commission complaints, added Walker.

Google owns about 90 percent of the search market in Europe, a dominance that has prompted antitrust complaints from regulators not keen on seeing a single company -- let alone an American one -- smash all competitors.

Brussels might give Google more time to tinker with its concession proposals, according to the Register, which will ensure that this 2-year-old-plus investigation keeps going, and that competitors remain irked.

[Sources: The Register; Google]

Vodafone to Buy Kabel Deutschland

British telecom Vodafone agreed Monday to purchase German cable operator Kabel Deutschland for about US$10.1 billion.

Kabel Deutschland, which has been the target of takeover speculation for months, represents Vodafone's largest acquisition since it spent about $11 billion in 2007 to gain a controlling stake in Hutchison Essar of India.

[Source: The New York Times]


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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