Page last updated at 11:46 GMT, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Google postpones China mobiles after censorship row

Google HQ in China (AP)
Journalists based in Beijing say they have been victims of e-mail hacks

Google says it has postponed the launch of two Android based mobile phones in China following a dispute with the government over censorship.

The formal launch was due to take place on Wednesday, a spokesperson said.

The announcement came as the Chinese government said Google and other foreign firms must obey the country's laws and traditions.

Google said last week that it had been targeted in a sophisticated cyber attack thought to originate in China.

The attacks were thought to target the e-mail accounts of human rights activists.

As a result, the company said that it would no longer censor search engine results in China even if it meant it had to shut down operations in the country.

Google had planned to launch two handsets running its Android operating system in cooperation Samsung and Motorola.

"The launch we have been working on with China Unicom has been postponed," said a Google spokesperson.

China Unicom is a network provider in the country.

'Tough stance'

The news comes as foreign journalists based in Beijing claim to be the latest victims of China-based cyber attacks.

According to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China's website (FCCC) emails from their Gmail accounts "were being forwarded to a stranger's address".

"We remind all members that journalists in China have been particular targets of hacker attacks in the last two years. Please be very careful about what links you click on, what e-mail attachments you open, and do run virus checks regularly," it said in a statement.

It also issued a checklist for its 400 members to help them secure their Gmail accounts.

Human rights organisation Reporters Without Borders said it was "deeply disturbed and outraged" by the attacks.

Reporters Without Borders said the compromised e-mail accounts constituted "a serious violation of their privacy, their professional work and their freedom to provide news and information".

"The hackers who targeted foreign journalists based in Beijing were probably trying to get contact details and information about the human rights activists who talk to the international press," it said in a statement.

"We firmly condemn these attacks and we call on the ministry of industry and information technology to provide an explanation," it added.

It also criticised Microsoft for failing to follow Google's tough stance.

Microsoft admitted that its Internet Explorer browser was a weak link in the recent attacks on Google's systems.

As a result, the governments of France and Germany have warned their citizens to switch to a new browser such as Firefox or Google's Chrome.



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