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Why Is Dropbox Back On the Chinese Market?

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the why-who-and-how-much dept.

Privacy 46

Nerval's Lobster writes "Dropbox has renewed access to the Chinese market for the first time in four years. But why? The Chinese government first blocked access to Dropbox in 2010, most likely to prevent people within China from sharing data via the cloud. Now Dropbox is back online in China, albeit at slower speeds. Despite repeated queries from Slashdot, however, Dropbox has declined to comment on why China may have dropped the in-country restrictions to its services. "We still have nothing to share," the company responded after the third email. Dropbox isn't the only foreign cloud service available on the Chinese market (although Google Drive remains blocked): in late 2013, Amazon announced it would open an Amazon Web Services (AWS) region in the country; at the time, the Amazon Web Services Blog alluded to the "legal and regulatory requirements" that this new AWS region will obey. So questions remain: Did Dropbox know it would regain entry to the Chinese market? If so, did it need to agree to certain conditions before the Chinese government would "flip the switch," as it were?"

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46 comments

Who cares? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46310509)

They already provide the same access to US intelligence agencies (who'll forward any relevant data to sufficiently large, ostensibly US but in practice international corporate interests). Why is it news that Dropbox does the same for Chinese wrt. Chinese customers?

It might be news if they provided similar access to Chinese interests as they do to US interests.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46312393)

The NSA may be spying the shit out of Dropbox, but if you seriously think they have their chosen cadre of beneficiary companies they hand juicy tidbits to, you're dreaming. They don't even share intelligence with the other Alphabet agencies, why the hell would they bother passing along a couple of corporate secrets?

The Chinese on the other hand have a well established track record assisting domestic companies with catch-up espionage whenever possible.

NSA data swaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46314351)

Dreaming? A former NSA and CIA director, Michael Hayden, came as close to admitting it as one can, without becoming legally liable -- he said he would do it himself: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/... [bloomberg.com]

What proof do you have that NSA etc. do not share important details with their corporate partners? Your belief that it is illegal and immoral?

Once you admit to yourself that these agencies first and foremost act for their own benefit and survival, for their highest officers' personal careers second, and only third for their stated purpose, you start to realize how the world turns. It's not evil, it's just how humans work.

Welcome to reality, friend.

Re:Who cares? (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 5 months ago | (#46314553)

Try reading about the Enercon vs GE case.

One of the unusual survivors. (2, Insightful)

Megan Woods (2920951) | about 5 months ago | (#46310521)

Drop box has survived public humiliation and questions about its security and yet... Get this.. It still survives to this day.. Everything slips off drop box like it is Teflon coated.

spiritual vortex overwhelming unprecedented evile (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46310547)

new clear options work.. rock on /. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z7mVTjLtFQ

Despite repeated queries from Slashdot . . . (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46310553)

Dropbox is waiting for a real tech site to contact them.

Re:Despite repeated queries from Slashdot . . . (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 5 months ago | (#46310849)

Precisely - why does Slashdot deserve a comment or response at all? Its a common journalistic tactic - ask for a comment, and when you don't get a response (why would every enquiry deserve a response?) then its a perfect negative thing to put in your story.

This isn't anything out of the ordinary... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46310557)

Of course dbox had to agree to certain conditions to gain access to the Chinese market. That's how it works, you want to do business within a country, you abide by their rules or you go packing, it's just more "questionable" by Western standards when it comes to China, in that being Eastern in nature and not entirely capitalist, its way of doing things is different than what is the Western norm -- that and China has the economic cloud (on pace to surpass the US and EU economically within the next 5 years if current trends hold up, growing at over a trillion USD per year) to impose its way of doing things.

There's probably some censorship involved as well, which frankly is fine and dandy, the West shuts out any mention of Tibetan terror attacks or ethnic violence against the Han and Hoi people of Lhasa, why should China not shut out Western propaganda about happy, shiny, peaceful Tibetans that don't really exist? Same for the Uighur-related censorship, except you don't hear much about them non-Chinese media because the West is riding the anti-Muslim wave.

Re:This isn't anything out of the ordinary... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46310639)

Just in case:
Clout /klout/
noun
2.
informal
influence or power, esp. in politics or business.
"I knew he carried a lot of clout"

Re:This isn't anything out of the ordinary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46311209)

I sea what you did their.

Re:This isn't anything out of the ordinary... (3, Insightful)

Smauler (915644) | about 5 months ago | (#46310935)

the West shuts out any mention of Tibetan terror attacks or ethnic violence against the Han and Hoi people of Lhasa

Perhaps I should notify my ISP... your mention of Tibetan terror attacks and ethnic violence seems perfectly visible here.

Re:This isn't anything out of the ordinary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46311027)

One person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter. While the US by now has relabeled most of their former freedom fighters to terrorists I guess they haven't quite decided on what to call various people in China and Russia. And in Ukraina they opted for "freedom fighter", with the local government of course doing the opposite and calling them "terrorists".

Re:This isn't anything out of the ordinary... (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 5 months ago | (#46311825)

Sorry, but most estimates put China passing the US economy at at *least* 15-20 years out, not 5. It'll happen, but not nearly as fast as you suggest.

Despite repeated queries from Slashdot, however, D (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46310631)

Slashdot Must be confusing it self with real journalism.

Bribes are an amazing thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46310659)

Not just for Sochi to give the Olympic Committee but shockingly, Chinese officials also take bribes.

Shock ..... ing

I don't know why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46310667)

I don't know why Dropbox is back in China but I know that BETA sucks. It's slow, VERY slow.

Re:I don't know why... (-1, Offtopic)

mx_mx_mx (1625481) | about 5 months ago | (#46310751)

Go to http://soylentnews.org/ [soylentnews.org] and you never look back

Re:I don't know why... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46310875)

Go to http://soylentnews.org/ [soylentnews.org] and you never look back

Logically, this statement is false. Or you have never gone to this website, and you're just referring other people?

Hmm... okay, a website that you tell me is awesome, but have never looked at yourself... harden myself to possible images from the guts of internet sniping... going in.... #%@$... CARRIER LOST

Really? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46310683)

I'm in Guangzhou right now using Guangzhou Telecom (a region "branch" of China Telecom) with OpenNIC DNS and I can't access dropbox.com (CONNECTION_RESET, which is a typical GFW sign).

C'mon, seriously? (2)

DenaliPrime (6153) | about 5 months ago | (#46310689)

Look, we all know the answer to this.

For Dropbox to get access to China, they have to allow the Chinese National Security Commission unfettered access to their resident's Dropbox accounts.

Re:C'mon, seriously? (2)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | about 5 months ago | (#46311425)

Easy to test by opening an account and upload some random files encoded with PGP. See how long it takes to have the account killed and/or State Security goons to show up at your door.

Slower? Honeytrap (1)

EngineeringStudent (3003337) | about 5 months ago | (#46310701)

So it runs slower, and its open. This sounds like a honeypot server. Is there end-to-end encryption or is this an invitation built to enhance informed oppression?

Re:Slower? Honeytrap (1)

matbury (3458347) | about 5 months ago | (#46310793)

"or is this an invitation built to enhance informed oppression?" - The FBI are pretty good at it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] Perhaps that's where the Chinese get some of their ideas... or how about the DEA, CIA, NSA, etc.?

It's just one empire running propaganda campaigns to criticise another. Just make effective surveillance circumvention tools freely available to everyone. Then we'll have to address the hysterical jumping around and shouting of the security agencies about terrorism, child pornography, organised crime, etc. even though we don't see any evidence of blanket surveillance putting any of those people in jail - the ones that get caught get caught through targeted criminal investigations within the law.

isnt it obvious? (5, Insightful)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 5 months ago | (#46310705)

they gave the chinese gov full access to their (chinese) user identities and file access. i would not be surprised if their china gov approved system is completely contained within china.

Re:isnt it obvious? (1)

jrumney (197329) | about 5 months ago | (#46310873)

Their Government Data Requests Principles [dropbox.com] is a catalogue of the things they're forced to do that they don't like. The last one on that list would seem to apply to China (but I wouldn't be at all surprised if they've been forced to bend over on this one by US and other Western countries as well).

Re:isnt it obvious? (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 5 months ago | (#46311491)

In the mid-east it is called baksheesh. In China it is "my son's company will help you with that."

Re:isnt it obvious? (1)

drolli (522659) | about 5 months ago | (#46311909)

And that would be unlike the freedom from secret government surveilance we are used to in the free world.

Re:isnt it obvious? (2)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 5 months ago | (#46312069)

And that would be unlike the freedom from secret government surveilance we are used to in the free world.

here we can criticize, try to stop and (hopefully at some point) jail them. in china you get fast tracked to organ "donation".

Re:isnt it obvious? (1)

drolli (522659) | about 5 months ago | (#46312881)

Yeah, thats funny.

Criticising the gouverment in the internet or sharing some documents is *not* enough to be fast tracked to organ donation in China.

China may not be perfect in terms of human rights but it for sure gets better and better in average.

Re:isnt it obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46314673)

here we can criticize, try to stop and (hopefully at some point) jail them. in china you get fast tracked to organ "donation".

Thanks, I haven't had such a good laugh in a long while.

Nothing to share? Ironic, no? (1)

wealthychef (584778) | about 5 months ago | (#46310743)

FTFA: "We still have nothing to share," the company responded after the third email. Isn't dropbox a website for sharing stuff? Seems strange.

They likely give the Chinese govt full access (2)

CritterNYC (190163) | about 5 months ago | (#46310747)

The answer is obvious and pretty simple, both Dropbox and Amazon likely give the Chinese government complete access to everything that passes through those servers in China. That's the only way the Chinese government would allow them entry.

Re:They likely give the Chinese govt full access (4, Interesting)

jrumney (197329) | about 5 months ago | (#46310801)

The timing is suspicious, given the mail they just sent out to all their users updating the TOS with an additional "Government Data Request Principles" section.

Re:They likely give the Chinese govt full access (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46311255)

The timing is suspicious, given the mail they just sent out to all their users updating the TOS with an additional "Government Data Request Principles" section.

Depends on what's in the section. Didn't anyone tell you not to judge a book by the cover?

Re:They likely give the Chinese govt full access (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46311985)

The timing is suspicious, given the mail they just sent out to all their users updating the TOS with an additional "Government Data Request Principles" section.

Depends on what's in the section. Didn't anyone tell you not to judge a book by the cover?

I just checked it, and you're right. It says "We will totally not turn over your data to any government that requests it. Especially not the Chinese. We will definitely not hand over your data to the Communist Party, even if they pinky swear they won't do anything mean to you for it. We will never send information about whether your files contain the keywords "democracy", "Tiananmen Square" or "Communism suxxors" to any third party, such as the Communist Party Committee for Un-Chinese Activities. That is not a thing that will happen." So I guess there's nothing to worry about.

Re:They likely give the Chinese govt full access (1)

jrumney (197329) | about 5 months ago | (#46314399)

Whats in that section is basically a catalogue of what we already know the US government is doing, and an extra one at the bottom about Governments adding a man in the middle that gives them access to everything.

They say its a list of everything that they promise to resist, but we know from Snowdon's work and other public disclosure that its all actually happening.

Re:They likely give the Chinese govt full access (1)

npridgeon (784063) | about 5 months ago | (#46310845)

That's right, and I would imagine the people of China know this, and act accordingly.

China's got the right idea when it comes to censorship and monitoring of the internet. They are a ?communist? country so they have the right, or even the responsibility to monitor how people use public utilities. As for America and the NSA, they claim to be an open society with a government of the people, for the people, yet they increasingly treat those same people as criminals and terrorists for doing simple things like making backup copies of movies or music that they may have purchased completely legally.

Re:They likely give the Chinese govt full access (1)

eulernet (1132389) | about 5 months ago | (#46312165)

My guess is that they'll simply disable SSL for chinese users or perhaps provide a local SSL key to China, so that China's censoring system will be able to log all the traffic.

It's been working on and off for about a month (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46310765)

Near the end of January I noticed that I didn't have to connect to my VPN for my home computer Dropbox to sync. But it's on and off. When it's on, the speed isn't throttled; I get the same slow speed I get to any US server (although my 50 Mb/s connection to APA is generally better than anything I get in the USA).

At work, of course, we have a privileged connection to the outside world, because we're one of the largest non-Chinese companies in the world, and we give a lot of money to China.

hahhahaha because F?UCK BETA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46311645)

seriously im out, this is fucking horrible :(

Because money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46311933)

Lots and lots of money. The DropBox butt holes aren't in china for the wonders of democracy.
DropBox simply provides the chinese dictatorship more control, in exchange for money.

(Meanwhile in other news: Fuck beta!)

Easy to answer (2)

longk (2637033) | about 5 months ago | (#46314009)

This question is very easy to answer if you know why dropbox was blocked in the first place.

Get this:
* I was living in China, happily using Dropbox.
* Suddenly Dropbox tells me it can't connect.
* Did some digging with tcpdump, traceroute, etc. You know. Nerd stuff.
* Turns out that our of Drop boxes entire IP range, only 1 IP was blocked.
* This IP happened to be the login or authentication server that the client occasionally connects to.
* As it happens, the SAME IP was used for Dropbox website.
* It seemed likely to me that the website was the target of the block, not the login server for the client.
* So I check the Dropbox forum on its website (using VPN) and what do I see there: SONG TEXTS OF TIBETAN NATIONALISTS

Yes, so Dropbox was blocked because some nitwit decided it was a good place to post some pro-tibet/anti-china texts. How do you get unblocked in China? Remove the offending text and change your IP address (or wait a really long time.)

are you kidding me? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 5 months ago | (#46314073)

I wouldn't return your request for an interview/ more details either.

TOS change (1)

atomatica (2612265) | about 5 months ago | (#46315151)

Dropbox just changed its Terms of Service. Related?
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