China state media calls for sanctions against Google, Apple, U.S. tech firms




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BEIJING – Chinese state media lashed out at Google Inc GOOGL.O, Inc AAPL.O and other U.S. companies on Wednesday, calling on Beijing “to punish severely pawns” of U.S. government for monitoring and stealing secrets.

U.S. companies such as Yahoo Inc., Cisco Systems Inc.,  Microsoft Corp and Facebook Inc., threaten cyber- of and its Internet users, said People’s Daily on its microblog, comments echoed on the front page of the English-language Daily.

It is not clear what sparked this latest round of vitriol, nor what information the U.S. firms are alleged to have stolen. But Chinese media have repeatedly attacked American tech companies for aiding the U.S. government’s cyber espionage since U.S. Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden revealed widespread spying programs including PRISM.

Under PRISM, the NSA seized data companies such as Google and , according to revelations made by Snowden a year ago.

Chinese state-owned firms have since begun dispensing with the services of U.S. companies such as IBM Corp, Oracle Corp and Cisco favour of domestic . As a result, Snowden’s revelations cost U.S. companies billions of dollars, analysts say.

“U.S. companies including , Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc. are all coordinating with the PRISM program to monitor China,” the People’s Daily said on its official microblog.

“To resist the naked Internet hegemony, we will draw up international regulations, and strengthen safeguards, but we will also severely punish the pawns of the villain. The priority is strengthening penalties and punishments, and for anyone who steals our information, even though they are far away, we shall punish them!” it said.

Google has already had China this week. On Monday, a China censorship watchdog said Google services were being disrupted ahead of Wednesday’s 25th anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. (Full Story)

“We cannot say this more clearly – the (U.S.) government does not have access to Google servers – not directly, or via a back door, or a so-called drop box,” said Google Chief Legal David Drummond in an emailed statement on Wednesday. “We provide user data to only in accordance with the law.”

Microsoft declined to provide immediate comment. Facebook, Yahoo and Cisco were not immediately available when Reuters sought comment. All of them have previously denied participating in sweeping surveillance efforts.

Apple on Wednesday referred to its previous statements on the matter.

“Much of what has been said isn’t true. There is no back door. The government doesn’t have access to our servers. They would have to cart us out in a box for that,” Chief Executive Tim Cook said in an April interview with ABC Television.

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Facebook is currently blocked by Chinese censors but said last month it open a sales office in China to provide more support to local advertisers who use the website to reach customers overseas.

In December, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo and other Internet companies issued an open letter to U.S. President and to reform and introduce restrictions on surveillance activities.

Even so, U.S. tech companies have had a rocky time in China since the NSA revelations. Just last month, central government offices were banned installing Windows 8, Microsoft’s latest operating , on new computers. (Full Story)

But the U.S. has responded with its own measures. In , the U.S. Department of Justice charged five Chinese military officers with hacking U.S. companies to steal trade secrets.

The indictment sparked outrage in China and added urgency to Beijing’s efforts to promote the development of local information technology (IT) companies.

Chinese media called the United States “a high-level hooligan” and officials accused Washington of applying “double standards” on issues of cyber spying. (Reuters)