Hey Yu, call off the cyber-goons

Predictably enough, China denies the latest allegations from a University of Toronto study showing that someone from within its borders has hacked into sensitive Indian and Tibetan files.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu does not explain how it is that plans for Indian surface to air missiles have wound up on Chinese servers, but is quoted as saying, “Hacking is an international crime and all nations should join hands to deal with hacking crimes”.

No wonder Jiang Yu wants to hold hands when so many of the electronic fingerprints are pointing right back at China. In fact, only this past weekend, we are reliably informed, some cyber-douchebags from Shanghai and Manila have been trying to disrupt this website.

The evidence that China is behind hacking operations in recent years is now piling up. First it was the US Government ringing the alarm – and sure, they might have had a political motivation to make up a story – but when organisations as disparate as a Melbourne International Film Festival, Google, Yahoo, the University of Toronto, and even this humble website all have evidence, the game is up.

Ironically, the harm China does to its reputation by engaging in Internet attacks far outweighs any benefits it may think it gains by disrupting Internet sites.

In this country, for example, Australians have plenty of goodwill towards Chinese people who are terrific hard-working, law abiding migrants. But in places where freedom of speech is a fiercely guarded right, internet hacking does enormous damage to China’s reputation, and is almost always counter-productive. In the case of the Melbourne film festival, for example, all the cyber-attacks achieved was to garner publicity for the film and the plight of the Uighurs.

China is a big place, but it will soon discover that the Internet is bigger than it can handle. The Chinese Government needs to decide real soon whether it wants to invite the scorn of the international community, or whether it wants to join the world of the World Wide Web.