The Great Firewall of China

Dinner at Great China after work with my boss, several workmates, Orville Schell, and a Chinese student involved in monitoring The Great Firewall of China — various mechanisms of internet censorship exercised by the government. An evening’s worth of conversations about Google and blogging, the slippery nature of the internet, encryption, proxies, obfuscation, and the immense scale of China’s censorship efforts.

The plan is to do something similar to what we did with bIPlog, but on the subject of Chinese internet clampdown techniques and mechanisms/stories of circumvention. We’ll be bringing in CS students to help us find ways to monitor whether and how our site is blocked from within China. We’ll also feed and seed the Western press with info gleaned anonymously from within the continent. Should be a fascinating project, though we likely won’t begin until this summer.

It’s all going to be published in Chinese, which means I’ll need to manage a site in a language I can’t read. Looks like Movable Type handles Unicode well ….

Music: Lennie Tristano/Lee Konitz/Warne Marsh :: Background Music

4 Replies to “The Great Firewall of China”

  1. It’d be good if the work on monitoring net censorship by governments could be broadened to include some so called “democratic” countries and allies of the US such as Spain. We kind of expect in China.

    It’s not received much media coverage but for several months now and other sites have been fitered. Google searches from Spain on certain topics that the Spanish government consider harmful for domestic consumption give different results when using an anoymous proxy.

    see here too:


    Article 19.

    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this
    right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to
    seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and
    regardless of frontiers.

  2. Thanks for pointing this out, Philm. I have heard Germany was involved in this but had no idea Spain was. Starting to look like Google’s negative results (non-returns) are as much for sale as its top results.

  3. I thought that Google were the “good guys” and did not screw around with their results like that!

  4. Such a project would have to distinguish blocking between provinces, as there’s evidence to suggest they’re heading towards some sort of regionalism in blocking.

    A lot of the China-based bloggers are good at catching when any of the big sites go unblocked for whatever reason. For example, during the New Year blogspot blogs were accessible from some areas and even the Google cache worked.

    In any case, we’d love to see somewhere we could go to that would tell us at a glance what’s available and what’s not.

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