Archive for August 11th, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tsai Ing-wen’s Campaign Office hacked, Xinhua too Impartial to be the Source

Tsai Ing-wen‘s election campaign office suffered a hacking attack, Yahoo Taiwan   reported on Tuesday. Tsai is both the oppositional DPP’s chairperson, and its presidential nominee for Taiwan’s presidential and Legislative-Yuan elections scheduled in January.

According to an account of the Yahoo report in English by Echo Taiwan, the hacks came with a Trojan horse, aiming at info stealing, not at damaging data.

[Tsai’s] office holds all the info regarding how the DPP had planned and is planning to campaign for the president and legislator elections early next year, including how to deploy the resources, who is gonna take charge of what, etc.

Reportedly, IP trackings suggest that the hacks originated from China’s Xinhua News Agency, individual hackers, and from some “special group” in Taiwan. Xinhua denies involvement.

“As a news service provider, we have an impartial and objective stance on the election of the Taiwan region, and we will never interfere in the matter”, China Daily quoted a Xinhua spokesman.

Incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou’s campaign office also confirmed having suffered recent hacking attacks, although it did not reveal details or whether any information was leaked,

reports AsiaOne.

As for the suspected identity of the hackers, the campaign office said time constraints prevented them from looking into the high number of hacking activities, and to chase after each case would be futile.

An AFP report tiptoes toward the cui-bono question: “Observers say China would prefer Ma to win instead of DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen”.

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Vocabulary

  • Taiwan’s translation for hacker: 駭客 (hài kè) 駭 is an exclamation or sigh expressing shock; ke stands for “guest” (shocking guest).
  • China’s translation for hacker: 黑客 (hēi kè) means “black guest”.

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Related

» Malware Networks, Cooperation Appreciated, April 6, 2010

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

People’s Daily: a Microblog is no Tea House

As long as microblog users maintain a rational, objective and moderate position, and as long as microblog managers always maintain the principle of “good treatment, good use, good management”, microblogging can indeed play an active role in promoting social progress,

reads the first paragraph – and the conclusion – of a People’s Daily online (人民日报) article of Wednesday. It’s a signed article [Su Nan / 苏楠, news editor], and refers to an anti-rumor alliance (辟谣联盟), established at or by the microblogs [“microblog” mostly refers to Weibo, China’s most popular platform – weibo in itself means microblog in English] less than three months ago.

The article criticizes “instant-food” (自带干粮, more literally, stuff like dried noodles) netizens who were “upholding a flag of serving truth” (“高举“为真相服务”的旗帜”).  People’s Daily seems to refer to a case where a photo, in June this year, had meant to prove that a prostitute or several prostitutes in Beijing were checked or arrested while naked. Efforts to clarify and to demonstrate that this was false information had been ridiculed (嘲讽) online.

This was a calamity the alliance hadn’t forseen, writes People’s Daily, and sees three questions arising:

1. Are microblogs media in a true sense, or street gossip? Can they be held accountable to media standards?

2. How to distinguish between hearsay, queries, and rumors? How to discern real queries from rumors?

3. Won’t unbalanced rumor prevention actually amplify the shortcomings within the ecology of microblogging? Won’t it influence the development of microblogging negatively?

Microblogs are no tea houses, warns People’s Daily – they carried media characteristics, serving 195 million users as a speaking platform, and serving as a news source for other media. The question about an ethical bottomline therefore needed to be addressed:

It’s not only media professionals who must act cautiously and conscientiously (审慎严谨) when using microblog information, but ordinary microbloggers, too, should assume responsibility for their words, honestly and in good faith (应该诚实守信,对自己的言论负责).

The article hopefully suggests that the sharp eyes of the masses (“群众的眼睛是雪亮的”, literally: eyes bright as snow) – such as the anti-rumor alliance – would help to promote rational and orderly expression and participation. However, rumor prevention itself was a term that chopped and changed (朝三暮四), and depending on how it was used, it could lead to even more rumors. The concept in itself required impartiality and objectivity.

Hudong Baike describes the anti-rumor alliance as an initiative for voluntary netizen self-discipline organization (网友自发的自律组织) by China University of Political Science and Law (中国政法大学) junior professor Wu Danhong (吴丹红), aka Wu Fatian (吴法天) and at least one media personality.

It is hard to see how a genuinely voluntary initiative of this kind should build in China. When an eery committee awarded a Confucius Prize to Taiwan’s former Taiwanese premier Lien Chan, it was emphasized that this was not an official prize (while the ministry of culture was nevertheless involved). Quite probably, much of the ridicule the anti-rumor alliance faced in June was owing to netizens’ suspicion that the alliance was about as “voluntary” or “spontaneous” as an unknown number of previous initiatives. Public faith in the integrity of such initiatives would require a genuine civil society, and even there, trust in such initiatives won’t go without saying. It is also hard to believe that People’s Daily’s fresh endorsement for the alliance, on Wednesday, wouldn’t have anything to do with censorship of the recent Wenzhou bullet train accident, which, according to Singapore’s Morning News, had led to a wide-spread sense of depression.

The People’s Daily article itself is aware that the cat frequently bites its own tail when it comes to censorship, or “rumor prevention”. That’s unfortunate because there are rumors in abundance, and many Chinese netizens are indeed grateful consumers and rebroadcasters of rumors.

But then, rumors thrive best in a secretive society, and anti-rumor alliances in China are bound to address the symptoms, rather than the causes.

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Related
» Ties that Bind, commenter at CMP, August 9, 2011
» Wen Jiabao’s Endgame, April 21, 2011
» Truthfulness is Everything, April 8, 2011
» Salt, Autobahn and Free Elections, March 19, 2011

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