China’s Internet Users Hail Google for Banishing Chinese Security Certificates

April 3, 2015 Updated: April 3, 2015

Tech giant Google followed up on its report that Chinese Internet authorities are abusing their authority over the Internet by depriving them of that authority—at least with Google products. Chinese netizens cheered the move.

On March 23 Google announced that a subsidiary of the China Internet Information Center (CNNIC) was responsible for issuing unauthorized certificates. On April 1, Google announced it was no longer recognizing certificates issued by the Chinese Internet authority. In a separate move, Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox browser, also announced on April 2 it would not longer accept the CNNIC certificates.

Well done, democratic Google.
— Chinese netizen 'ORZ2009'

Certificate authorities tell your Web browser whether the website you’re visiting is what it says it is. If this power is abused, a certificate authority can give unauthorized certificates and replace real websites with fake ones. For example, a banking website could be replaced with one to steal financial data, and the site would still appear real to the user in every way.

Now that CNNIC is banned, Google Chrome users, will receive warning messages when visiting secure “HTTPS” pages with a .cn domain.

After Google revoked CNNIC’s certificates, CNNIC responded on its website by calling Google’s actions “incomprehensible and unacceptable.” Chinese Internet users, however, felt otherwise.

“Great job,” said three Internet users in China with the monikers “cywater2000,” “jason6666,” and “rabbit eating radish” on the discussion forum Another netizen nicknamed “ORZ2009” said “Well done, democratic Google.”

A netizen nicknamed “aweiwei” pointed out how CNNIC is known for distributing malware. “When you search and enter CNNIC, the top results are discussions about how to remove CNNIC’s malware.”  

“Finally CNNIC is banned,” said a netizen with the name “beterhans.” “Many related articles have been removed from the Internet.”

On another popular online forum Kdnet, netizens are saying bravo to what Google has done. But all the posts were eventually removed from the forum.

Chinese media, including the business magazine Caijing, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, and the biggest Chinese Internet Portal Sina, have all removed from their sites news of Google’s ban.

Follow Frank on Twitter: @HwaiDer