Cyber-Security, China, and SENDS

Lots of pieces in motion on the China-v-the-world security front in recent days. The Wikileaks-borne report that a member of the Chinese Politburo ordered the attack on Google's systems there, allegedly out of pique for finding negative information about himself in a Google search. The recent contention -- since debunked -- that China Telecom had deliberately misrouted and "hijacked" some 15% of the world's internet traffic. It later turned out that the figure was probably closer to 0.015% than 15% -- and that, as in so many cases, what outside observers thought to be carefully planned, concerted action may have been a series of accidents and misunderstandings. But there is nothing accidental about the Chinese government's ongoing and lamentable efforts to persuade other countries to boycott the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring Liu Xiaobo on December 10. Nor about a Chinese court's refusal today to let a U.S. diplomat (Robert Goldberg, deputy chief of mission in Beijing) attend an appeal hearing for a U.S. citizen who has been sentenced to eight years in prison. Plus the ongoing North Korea and Iran mess.

This is a long and indirect way of getting to something I've meant to mention for a while: a new web site on various cyber-security issues, including but not limited to those involving China. It is called SENDS, an acronym explained on the SENDS site, and it's intended to promote discussion about electronic security measures. My friend Bob Schapiro, NY Emmy-winning producer and director, has an introductory essay here. Another installment, applying Jane Austen logic to the internet (yes, it's "SENDS and Sensibility"), is by Carl Hunt, also a friend. They're inviting comments and submissions from readers. There are obviously a lot of other sites covering similar issues, and this one is just getting going. But it's worth a look.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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