China is once again blasting the United States for cyberspying but is aiming its latest outburst at US tech companies.
On Wednesday, Chinese media criticized Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Cisco Systems for cooperating with the National Security Agency's Prism program to monitor China, Reuters has reported. Media outlets including China's People Daily and China Daily pointed to such companies as threats to Chinese users, thereby requiring punishment.
"To resist the naked Internet hegemony, we will draw up international regulations, and strengthen technology safeguards, but we will also severely punish the pawns of the villain," People's Daily said on its official microblog, according to Reuters. "The priority is strengthening penalties and punishments, and for anyone who steals our information, even though they are far away, we shall punish them."
Revealed in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the Prism program was designed to gather and process "foreign intelligence" that passes through American servers. Google, for one, has been accused of giving the government a backdoor to its data but has denied such charges.
"We cannot say this more clearly -- the (US) government does not have access to Google servers -- not directly, or via a back door, or a so-called drop box," Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond told Reuters in an emailed statement on Wednesday. "We provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law."
China has previously criticized companies perceived as playing ball with the NSA's snooping programs. But the latest vitriol may be yet another response in the wake of formal complaints announced by the US in May against several Chinese military officials, charging that they hacked into corporate servers in the US and stole American trade secrets. China initially answered those charges by denying any wrongdoing and calling the US a hypocrite in light of its own cybersurveillance activities.
In the wake of growing concerns over cyberspying, China has been trying to extricate itself from its reliance on technology from US companies. As just one example, the Chinese government is reportedly asking banks to replace their IBM servers with machines from local companies as part of a test program, four people familiar with the matter recently told Bloomberg