Google's Schmidt: China is world's 'most sophisticated and prolific hacker'

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has harsh words for China in his forthcoming book, the New Digital Age.

According to extracts from the book quoted in a Wall Street Journal review, Schmidt describes the superpower as the world’s “most sophisticated and prolific hacker” of foreign companies and “the world’s most enthusiastic filterer of information.” Schmidt and co-author Jared Cohen go on to accuse China of using “illicit competition” to stave off rivals.

"The disparity between American and Chinese firms and their tactics will put both the government and the companies of the United States at a distinct disadvantage," writes Schmidt, arguing that "the United States will not take the same path of digital corporate espionage, as its laws are much stricter (and better enforced) and because illicit competition violates the American sense of fair play. This is a difference in values as much as a legal one."

The book focuses largely on China’s exploitation of the Internet to control aspects of business, culture and politics, according to the Wall Street Journal. Schmidt and Cohen also argue that Western countries should follow China’s lead and strengthen the relationships between governments and technology firms, pointing to Huawei’s success as a chief example of the benefits of taking such steps.

Google has very publicly come to blows with the Chinese government over issues including censorship and the hacking of citizens' Gmail accounts, and Schmidt has been known to criticise China’s government in interviews and speaking engagements.

The revelation of Schmidt’s comments followed announcements that both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal had been compromised by Chinese hackers. The Wall Street Journal in particular linked the hacking to Chinese agents attempting to monitor its coverage of the country. China’s foreign ministry has denied the accusations.

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