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Behind China's Great Firewall

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the draws-attention-to-what's-blocked dept.

Censorship 148

DigitalDame2 writes "In light of the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing, more scrutiny is being placed on China's Web-filtering practices. In May, China's technology minister, Wan Gang, told Reuters China he would 'guarantee as much [access] as possible,' defending Web limitations as necessary to protect the country's citizens. Truly understanding this cat-and-mouse game means taking a close look at what exactly the government filters out, how the Great Firewall works, and how others have found ways around it."

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Firewall tech (5, Funny)

mactard (1223412) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683927)

I honestly want to see pictures of that thing. I mean, every single packet that goes in and out of China goes through a giant box. That thing has to be huge to filter any sort of serious bandwidth.

Re:Firewall tech (3, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683945)

Who's to say it's not distributed among many (possibly hundreds) of gateways. It seems a bit impractical to think that China's internet connectivity funnels through one single geographical point, much less through one physical device. That, or you were being sarcastic...

Re:Firewall tech (3, Insightful)

ricebowl (999467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684005)

I have a feeling that, with the censorship being taken mostly at the ISP level in order to avoid governmental scrutiny/sanctions, that it occurs at the ISP's servers. So rather than any one piece of hardware doing all the work there's hundreds (I presume, I have no idea how many ISPs operate inside of China, though I'd expect there to be quite a few).

Re:Firewall tech (4, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684655)

Actually just about every ISP outside of america has internet filters in place (even those in the supposed "free" the Netherlands).

For starters if a country has 50% muslims, you can assume it filters the internet.

If a country is not free in speech (and that qualifies quite a bit more countries than you'd think, including all European countries), then they have either ISP or judicial filters, that in practice means their isp's filter.

Even Canada, matter-of-factly has ISP filters. Let's FIRST fix Canada, then we should move on to the UK or so, where there was one site that qualified as hate speech for advocacy against Blair.

I don't think what China does is good, I just question singling out China. And there are many countries where you actually might make a difference.

Besides slashdot users where by far in favor of sensoring stuff if it endangered people's safety, like when death threats were made by muslims about wilder's film. That was in the UK.

Let's start there. Then, AFTER that, and all other European countries and after Canada, then we can move Canada. What point is there in saying as a non-free country to China that they should be free ?

Re:Firewall tech (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684715)

This seems like a VERY good case to start with in Canada :

http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2007/dec/07121902.html [lifesitenews.com]

If he gets convicted, what difference will the absense of ISP filters make ?

Re:Firewall tech (2, Insightful)

vajaradakini (1209944) | more than 6 years ago | (#23685545)

Do you care to provide a source that isn't a right wing website?

Perhaps one that doesn't include statements like this: in a country with Sunday shopping, abortion rights and same-sex marriage...[h]uman rights commissions are vestigial organs, a historical correction that no longer serves any useful function. in attempts to prove a point. I mean, to say that just because women have the right to reproductive freedom (if they live in a major city), gay people can get married and everyone can go shopping on Sunday (if they live in a large city) doesn't mean that human rights issues are a thing of the past.

I'm also missing the part where this website is being filtered out by a repressive government. The fact that this site is up and running and I can view it from Canada despite the fact that it criticizes the current state of affairs in this country indicates that censorship isn't nearly as bad as in China.

Re:Firewall tech (2, Interesting)

Stewie241 (1035724) | more than 6 years ago | (#23685803)

I think the point was that there is no need for ISP filters if people are being fined by a human rights commission for speaking freely.

This saves the ISPs effort - they don't have to bother, because threats of legal action will scare people into silence.

I don't know the facts - just clarifying his argument.

Re:Firewall tech (1)

vajaradakini (1209944) | more than 6 years ago | (#23686199)

But to say that a human rights commission isn't needed at all because we can go shopping on days when Christians traditionally took the day off work is ludicrous. I mean, even if one ignores the fact that there are still issues with the rights of women women [amnesty.ca] (which doesn't even touch on the issue of the lack of abortion access to most women) or aboriginals [amnesty.ca] there are still issues with the rights of those who are caught up in trouble in the name of "counter terrorism" measures.

I'm not saying that it's right for people to be censored because they offend people, but there is a lot of room for improvement in terms of human rights here (and elsewhere).

I would also contend that, based on the sorts of websites I can access and the sort of bigotry I can find that isn't censored, the human rights commission is extremely ineffective at silencing the sorts of people who would make negative statements about minority groups online. The grandparent post didn't provide what I would consider a particularly reliable website for information so I don't really know if the issue is just censorship or if there's something else to it (i.e. if the author is attempting to incite violence against a group, should they still be allowed to do so even if it's just talking?).

Re:Firewall tech (1)

Stewie241 (1035724) | more than 6 years ago | (#23686655)

But to say that a human rights commission isn't needed at all because we can go shopping on days when Christians traditionally took the day off work is ludicrous.
Don't disagree... Would be interested in seeing how the HRC handles issues of free speech. I really appreciate the freedom I have to agree or disagree with the government and current public opinion.

I'm not saying that it's right for people to be censored because they offend people, but there is a lot of room for improvement in terms of human rights here (and elsewhere).
Absolutely. Though human rights are by nature a limited resource - if you give one human too many rights it impedes on the rights of another.

I would also contend that, based on the sorts of websites I can access and the sort of bigotry I can find that isn't censored, the human rights commission is extremely ineffective at silencing the sorts of people who would make negative statements about minority groups online. The grandparent post didn't provide what I would consider a particularly reliable website for information so I don't really know if the issue is just censorship or if there's something else to it (i.e. if the author is attempting to incite violence against a group, should they still be allowed to do so even if it's just talking?).
This isn't about right-wing compartmentalized websites... if you are only allowed to speak freely if you are a small time website, isn't that marginalization?

I should also note, that the website listed contains a link to the Maclean's article and a link to the response from CIC. I didn't read it, I don't know if it is reasonable or not.

Re:Firewall tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23685183)

What the hell are you talking about. Youre comparing the restrictive social practises of China with Euroland?

Youre nuts. Where on EARTH are you getting your bum information? Fox News, LGF or Rense?

Re:Firewall tech (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23685087)

Yes, and no. According to Erik Laykin of Navigant Consulting there are 3 points that connect China to the interweb (I think maybe Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzho.) The Chinese government is indeed spanning all 3. But considering that you have traffic for over 200 million people flowing through those 3 points, there are hundreds if not thousands of devices scattered all over the country to make up the Golden Shield. Interestingly, many of those devices of censorship were supplied by Cisco, Oracle, Microsoft, etc. Long live capitalism!

Re:Firewall tech (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23684315)

It is distributed, not a single giant box.

Happy D-DAY France !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23683937)

Happy D-DAY France !! May all your D-DAYS be as well.

Wow... (5, Insightful)

Jor-Al (1298017) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683981)

defending Web limitations as necessary to protect the country's citizens.
Yes, without filtered internet, who knows what untold damage might sweep through the populace!

Re:Wow... (1)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684089)

defending Web limitations as necessary to protect the country's citizens.
Yes, without filtered internet, who knows what untold damage might sweep through the populace!

Questioning and opposing their Government?

Re:Wow... (4, Funny)

ricebowl (999467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684159)

defending Web limitations as necessary to protect the country's citizens.
Yes, without filtered internet, who knows what untold damage might sweep through the populace!
Questioning and opposing their Government?

Only terrorists question or oppose their government! Are you a terrorist?

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23684223)

No, but I am a troll.

Re:Wow... (1)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684501)

Only terrorists question or oppose their government! Are you a terrorist?
Negative, I am a meat popsicle

Re:Wow... (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684241)

Yes, god forbit people stand up for themselves and ask question.

I'm glad China is there to ensure nothing like that happens. /For the greater good.

Re:Wow... (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684113)

Tubgirl?

Try THIS! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23684301)

defending Web limitations as necessary to protect the country's citizens.

Yes, without filtered internet, who knows what untold damage might sweep through the populace!

How about this [www.exet.nu] ?

Re:Wow... (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684811)

They need filter internet to keep us Mongol hordes [wikipedia.org] with our deviant sexual practices and unhealthy diets out of their civilized society.

errrmm.... (5, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683997)

FTA:

Even the good old U.S. of A. has restricted access in some cases. In May 2007, just a few weeks after placing restrictions on soldiers' blogs, the Department of Defense blocked access for soldiers to 13 "social networking and recreational" Web sites such as MySpace and YouTube, claiming that they took up too much bandwidth and presented operational risks. Ultimately, the ban severely limited the ability of soldiers overseas to communicate with loved ones at home, especially since the sites couldn't be accessed throughout much of Iraq and Afghanistan.
I'm not sure once can draw a moral equivelancy between the Army blocking what soldiers do over Army internet connections from war-zones and the Chinese blocking internet access for regular citizens.

Until the USA starts filtering my access to the BBC, I don't really know why they even brought that up -- its just like workplace filtering at any other job.

Re:errrmm.... (3, Funny)

Overkill Nbuta (1035654) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684041)

Is a world without myspace a world we want to live it!

Re:errrmm.... (4, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684047)

Is a world without myspace a world we want to live it!
Yes.

Re:errrmm.... (0, Redundant)

Binkleyz (175773) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684175)

What?

Re:errrmm.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23684341)

And soldiers not being able to watch YouTube videos or view MySpace profiles severely limits their ability to communicate with loved ones? What is he smoking?

I'd argue that all a soldier really needs in order to communicate with loved ones is email, but they're getting a lot more access than that.

Oh, they're so repressed! /sarcasm

Re:errrmm.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23684663)

Nah, youtube is not that important. But pr0n is! Thanks God we live on the blessed USA, where our government doesn't warrantless wiretap our conversations, doesn't read our e-mails, doesn't send people to military prisons on Islands without right to bail or to a jury, doesn't arrest people without a court order, and doesn't block our soldiers to watch pr0n.
What???!!! They blocked our soldiers access to pr0n!!! Oh, my dear God, now it is time for a revolution! What they gonna do next? Take our right to watch American Idol???!!!

Re:errrmm.... (1)

Flamora (877499) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684731)

Except for the fact that it's a lot more meaningful to actually see and hear your family through, say, a video taken from your computer's webcam than some text on a screen.

Now yes, if it's not being used properly, sure, but the article has a damn good point about that.

Re:errrmm.... (1)

Jor-Al (1298017) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684767)

No it doesn't. The filtering of the internet usage of an employee is in no way analogous to country-wide internet censorship by the government.

Re:errrmm.... (1)

Flamora (877499) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684789)

Referring more specifically to what the article mentions the soldiers using YT for, not the actual analogy. Apologies if that wasn't clear.

Re:errrmm.... (1)

Jor-Al (1298017) | more than 6 years ago | (#23686289)

I see. Criticism revoked. :)

Re:errrmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23685047)

Sure, and live webcam chats are done. I've seen it. But YouTube doesn't have a service for that. You don't need that site to talk to your family.

Re:errrmm.... (2, Interesting)

pythonist (1289628) | more than 6 years ago | (#23685939)

Content filtering really makes no difference for ordinary Chinese lives, just as banding CCTV's website or South Morning Post website in western countries make no real difference for westerners. People in China don't read CNN/BBC anyway.

We would rather concern about the turtle speed of "broadband" internet provided by ISPs. Construction of cyber infrastructure has a long way to go in China.

Silver lining... (5, Insightful)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684027)

...these measures are put in place to protect children and other Internet users from illegal and offensive content.

This is an illustration of the slippery slope and we all should show this to anyone who wants to censor or regulate the internet for obscene material or to "protect the children".

As a matter of fact, here's a perfect illustration how the "think of the children" rhetoric can be and is used for oppression of a people.

Re:Silver lining... (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684119)

Why do you hate children so much? Are you some kind of cold, heartless terrorist?

Re:Silver lining... (2)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684145)

Why do you hate children so much? Are you some kind of cold, heartless terrorist?
Apparently I am. Or at least the mod who gave me a "-1 Troll".

Re:Silver lining... (2, Interesting)

Jor-Al (1298017) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684161)

Wow this mod must be pmsing today. They've given troll mods to almost half a dozen posts so far. I'm still baffled by how any of them are trolling, though. Has Wan Gang become a slashdot mod?

Re:Silver lining... (4, Funny)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684231)

Ok, who gave the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Centre all these mod points?

Re:Silver lining... (5, Interesting)

Rycross (836649) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684237)

I've noticed that theres a small contingent of very nationalistic Chinese Slashdot users who get butthurt whenever anyone says anything remotely negative about the Chinese government. Usually its with a "OMG Why do you hate us so much!?" sort of mentality that I previously thought was exclusive to blindly patriotic Americans (yes I'm American). Thats probably who's doing the down-modding.

I'm a bit amazed at how hesitant a lot of Chinese guys I know are to say anything remotely negative about the Chinese government and get really upset if you insinuate that its not all fluffy bunnies and flowers with the government. But then again I'm used to pretty much everyone complaining about my government.

Re:Silver lining... (2, Insightful)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684553)

Basically, the logic is "I know my government is a son of bitch, but it is still my son of bitch."

Could be worse. You could be Korean, dying in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23685433)

Could be worse. You could be Korean, dying in the streets, being plucked clean by the birds and other hungry countrymen.

Re:Silver lining... (4, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684591)

You're also not used to having to look over your shoulder, wondering who is listening and what their real intentions are.

It's like how America is still looked upon favorably in parts of Eastern Europe, like Georgia. When you've experienced REAL dictatorship, REAL secret police, and REAL oppression, then you look at things differently than does the college kid who had his feelings hurt, so he blames it on whatever boogyman is popular to blame.

When you've spent your entire life wondering where little billy went after he said "i think mao sucked," you're going to be warry of saying those things and probably go out of your way to make sure that anyone else who heard it knows YOU didn't endorse that statement so that nothing happens to YOU.

We may be run by a bunch of retards and jackasses, but no matter how bad we have it, we still have it a lot better than the majority of people in the world.

Just something to think about.

Re:Silver lining... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23685271)

We may be run by a bunch of retards and jackasses, but no matter how bad we have it, we still have it a lot better than the majority of people in the world.
Retards and jackasses huh? We'll see just who's a retard and a jackass after you spend some time in Gitmo!

Thanks,
DHS

Re:Silver lining... (4, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23685427)

I have my party card in my wallet and a number of Congressmen's cellphone numbers handy. I'm not going anywhere, citizen.

No, that isn't a joke either. I really do.

But the government also isn't rounding up Americans off American streets and sending them to secret prisons (if they are, they're doing a good job keeping it secret).

They're rounding up foreigners that they get in foreign countries, who are (allegedly) in the act of doing stuff.

FDR made up the whole "enemy combatant" thing, lest we forget. And most of the interned Japanese were citziens or legal residents. I have yet to see DHS going around picking up taxi drivers and 711 clerks on suspicion of aiding and abetting the enemy.

I don't like Bush either, but can we please at least keep the accusations to things that he's actually done?

Re:Silver lining... (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 6 years ago | (#23686287)

I was more referring to the ones I know in person. Though I do have Chinese American friends who are pretty critical of the government. I was also more referring to vehement opposition to anything remotely critical of the Chinese government. I can understand being hesitant to criticize the Chinese government within China, but at the same time arguing with critics is more pro-government than I'm-afraid-of-my-government (which would probably entail not saying anything).

Re:Silver lining... (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23686579)

Well, Irish Americans like to pretend that it's all bread and roses in Ireland, same as Jews love Israel. No one wants to be told that "their people" are doing something wrong, because it can come off as an attack on them, ie "China's government is bad" turns into "the Chinese are bad," which conflicts with "I'm Chinese," and leads to a response of "you just wouldn't understand," or "RACIST!!"

Not saying that's necessarily the case in any particular context, but any immigrant community is going to carry over idealized fondness of the homeland, forgetting that if it were really /that/ great, they wouldn't have had to leave.

There is an old saying that goes, 'everyone has a nationality, but the Irish and the Jews have a psychosis.' You can probably add Chinese to that, too, as it seems to fit your data.

note: I am of Irish descent and have dated Jewish girls. The above comment should not be taken as an attack on the Jews or the Irish, but anyone who has been to a Flogging Molly concert or a Bar mitzvahs will know what I'm talking about.

Re:Silver lining... (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684623)

You assume they are Chinese. Why do you assume that?

Re:Silver lining... (3, Insightful)

Rycross (836649) | more than 6 years ago | (#23685559)

Because the posts in question where I noticed this claimed that they were Chinese. The people I met in person were, in fact Chinese. It is not a huge logical gap to think that people defending the Chinese government are, at least in part, Chinese. Whats your point?

Re:Silver lining... (5, Interesting)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684675)

I've noticed that theres a small contingent of very nationalistic Chinese Slashdot users who get butthurt whenever anyone says anything remotely negative about the Chinese government.

Not just Slashot users, but Chinese in general. I watched a news program or documentary recently that covered the subject, and it turns out the Chinese, the young and college educated particularly, exhibit the same reaction.

It turns out that, and I'm generalising here, the Chinese, if they don't "like it that way". have few objections to strong government control. For a westerner that might be hard to fathom, but I think it's unfair to dismiss their preferences as absurd or characterise them as the result of some sort of brainwashing.

What shouldn't be hard to fathom is that for someone who's Chinese, China is their country. Last I checked, national pride is a universal phenomenon, and treading on other's sense of identity or pride, however enlightened or well-intentioned, is always bad form and inevitably leads to conflict.

Re:Silver lining... (1)

pcfixup4ua (1263816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23685143)

In addition to this, China is the most homogeneous country in the world. Almost all of its population are Han in race. Many of them look down on white Americans like white Americans used to (and some still) do Africans. They see European culture as inferior, European language unrefined, and Christianity and Judaism infinitely superstitious.

Re:Silver lining... (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 6 years ago | (#23685677)

China has a lot to be proud about. They're doing an admirable job building an economy and improving the average life of their citizens. But at the same time, human rights abuses should not be overlooked. Having pride in ones' own country is fine. But being proud of ones' country means that you also have high expectations of it. I'm disappointed in my country's behavior because I am proud of it, as strange and illogical as that seems.

I don't see why we should hold back on criticizing a country that is not our own. No-one says that Europeans do not have a right to criticize America. Likewise, Americans will criticize Europe. Plenty of people criticize Russia. Western nations are not exempt from criticism, and the "Its not your country" excuse has been, time and time again, put down as a poor excuse to silence criticism. I will not extend favoritism to China in this regard.

Lets not forget that a lot of the "rah rah China" guys tend to be pretty damn critical of America. Turn-about is fair play. We will not improve each other by pretending everything is right with our countries. I certainly hope that Europe and Asia continue to criticize my government. Its important for our growth.

Re:Silver lining... (1)

Hairy Heron (1296923) | more than 6 years ago | (#23686465)

No-one says that Europeans do not have a right to criticize America.
I'd qualify that by saying "No one rational" says that. I've seen plenty of jingoists talking about how Europe has no right to judge "Merika" based on [insert nonsensical excuse].

Re:Silver lining... (1)

jsm (5728) | more than 6 years ago | (#23686077)

If that news report was the recent article on PBS' News Hour, then don't forget that those students they interviewed were hand-picked by the Chinese authorities for the interview.

Not that it wasn't informative. Maybe there are many who share their view. One interesting thing the students said was that non-Chinese people don't appreciate how much change the Chinese government *has* allowed, how much different it is now than it was. While I hope that's true, I'd counter that the Chinese government hasn't changed voluntarily, they've been forced to by modern global changes, or else they'd miss out on the huge benefits of e.g. the Internet.

Re:Silver lining... (0, Troll)

ghyd (981064) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684825)

It's more a bunch of anti-Chinese whiners who never lose a moment to embarrass the rest of us. The China cares for its people more than US allies (ever heard of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia????) and that many 'democracies'. Chinese way of life is changing a lot more than many other countries such as democratic India. /. is pathetic these days.

And I'm not Chinese, I'm French, and bothered by the San-Fransisco-Paris axis of hypocrisy and self righteousness.

Re:Silver lining... (1)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23685005)

You're doing something that you would be persecuted for if your government was more like the Chinese one. Think about this.

Re:Silver lining... (2, Funny)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684239)

Yeah! Who do we talk to about keeping folks from a ".cn" domain modding on China internet stories?

Re:Silver lining... (2, Insightful)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684327)

Wouldn't that be internet censorship?

Re:Silver lining... (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#23685037)

Whoosh.

Re:FSM (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 6 years ago | (#23686569)

I never really discussed the Filthy Speech Movement with my old friend "Charlie Brown" Artman, but he was a very logical and thorough thinker. He never got cynical about being right, unlike myself. The problem that (many) see as "where to draw the line", (some) see as "YOU can't draw MY line". IMHO Freedom of Speech means freedom of speech, but I certainly don't speak for The Electorate. Freedom of "thought" combined with representational democracy ensure that the ignorant masses will continue to crush dissent(ing thought).
  Majority Rule!

Hell with them... (4, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684081)

China's technology minister, Wan Gang, told Reuters China he would "guarantee as much [access] as possible," defending Web limitations as necessary to protect the country's citizens.

Protect them?

PROTECT THEM???

From WHAT??? Other than finding out what a murderous bunch of thugs run their craptastic fascist gov't?

RS

Re:Hell with them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23684559)

knowledge

Re:Hell with them... (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684791)

Don't get outraged. everyone knows it's crap and that it's in place to protect the current government.

They don't want people reading how all their peasants are moving to cities into sweat shops, they don't want there people to ahve a tool to use to organize rallys. The last thing they need is another tank man;which most people under 20 in China have never even heard of.

Re:Hell with them... (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 6 years ago | (#23685705)

Except for the people that posted about the stupidity of trying to protect the children... as if the Chinese government was actually being honest when they said what they were doing it for *blinks*

Re:Hell with them... (1)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23685127)

China's technology minister, Wan Gang, told Reuters China he would "guarantee as much [access] as possible," defending Web limitations as necessary to protect the country's citizens.
PROTECT THEM???
From WHAT???
Persecution by their own government for accessing counter-revolutionary and imperialist websites, of course.

Deal w/ it every day (2, Interesting)

J05H (5625) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684095)

It's understandable from a policy level but they have been throttling the hell out of their trans-Pacific connections. Our team over there was getting 36kbs downloads from a (flaky GoDaddy client) connection the other day.

The truth is the Chinese govt. faces a very real terrorism threat w/ the upcoming Olympics and are doing everything including monitoring the Net to keep it from happening.

Re:Deal w/ it every day (3, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684133)

It's more the pity that the biggest threat would be no one showing up to offer support to the Butchers of Beijing.

Re:Deal w/ it every day (1)

J05H (5625) | more than 6 years ago | (#23685859)

Ouch.

Re:Deal w/ it every day (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23685299)

It's understandable from a policy level but they have been throttling the hell out of their trans-Pacific connections. Our team over there was getting 36kbs downloads from a (flaky GoDaddy client) connection the other day.

The truth is the Chinese govt. faces a very real terrorism threat w/ the upcoming Olympics and are doing everything including monitoring the Net to keep it from happening.
I'm sorry, but this doesn't hold water. They do this daily, and have for years. It's not about protecting their citizens or infrastructure from terrorist threats, it's about protecting their privileged status and controlling their populace.

Hm... (4, Insightful)

Fayn (1003629) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684117)

Now that I think about it, the way China is right now is strikingly similar to how view an Internet in which Net Neutrality has been soundly defeated and one can only visit approved sites. There are, of course a few differences...govm't approval vs. corporate sponsorship. But the end result of a strictly regulated Internet experience remains the same. Or I could be completely full of it.

Re:Hm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23685417)

I tend to think that you're completely full of it. There's a big difference between simply prioritizing traffic and blocking it completely. Plus, unless I missed it in the article (which, yes, I actually read,) you can't get your access unblocked just by paying off your ISP. Well, officially, anyway. Who knows what kind of corruption goes on over there....

Re:Hm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23685581)

You're barking up the wrong tree here. In the corporate world, the emphasis is on profits. In an undemocratic society, the emphasis is on governmental control.

In other words, you can always Pay More to get better internet access even in the nightmare of a tiered system. Also, large consumer groups can exert some measure of influence on prices and the like. But in a police state run on fear and black magic, you're pretty much screwed. You get what the rules say you get, unless you're the one making the rules.

Also, I doubt that Comcast is going to disappear you any time soon.

Plus 2, Tro7l) (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23684187)

it was fun. If I'm there are some while the project posts. Therefore be forgooten in a recent article put argued by Eric IF I REMAIN

Blogs (4, Informative)

goatpunch (668594) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684199)

I was in China last month and the only sites that I had any problem accessing were blogs. It seemed that most popular blog sites were completely blocked. Wikipedia, Slashdot, Youtube, Facebook, etc. were all accessible. They don't seem to be using a whitelist though, as my own small unimportant domain worked fine.

In retrospect, blocking blogs isn't such a bad idea...

Re:Blogs (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23684337)

What's wrong with blogs?

Re:Blogs (2, Insightful)

coaxial (28297) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684423)

They're hard to control.

Re:Blogs (2, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684989)

Its not even so much that they're hard to control as it is that they lack any sort of journalistic integrity or professional ethics. They are often poorly written and filled more the opinion and innuendo than actual information.

Due to certain disgraceful actions on the part of main-stream journalists in the past, and due to perceived bias or partisanship by at least half of the population towards a source, a lot of people are looking towards "unfiltered" "sources" of "information," because they mistakenly think that they're going to get the "straight dope" or whatever the kids are calling it these days.

Citing blogs and bbs posts as "news" is like quoting a Playboy article in an academic paper. Sure, when you already have 4-5 peer-reviewed journal sources, the Playboy article can be a nice touch to add some spice and get you that extra couple of points, but if that's all you have, then you deserve to fail the project.

Re:Blogs (3, Interesting)

sdsucks (1161899) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684343)

I was also in China last month.

I had a hard time accessing:
- Some blogs as well
- Some earthquake news in the days immediately following the event (Some was accessible, some not)
- Some other misc news sites would not load. (Google world news page was out on me for days, while most other google news and google sites worked fine) ... I didn't go looking to hard for anything that would raise flags.

FWIW I think the blocking is mostly keyword based.

Re:Blogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23684375)

I was in China last month and the only sites that I had any problem accessing were blogs. It seemed that most popular blog sites were completely blocked. Wikipedia, Slashdot, Youtube, Facebook, etc. were all accessible. They don't seem to be using a whitelist though, as my own small unimportant domain worked fine.

In retrospect, blocking blogs isn't such a bad idea...
you must be the village idiot.

Re:Blogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23684473)

Did you try a search on 'tiananmen square' on Youtube or Wikipedia?

Re:Blogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23684685)

I just asked my friend in China, it is accessible.

Re:Blogs (1)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23685383)

I recall that "Tiananmen Square" is accessible, but "Tiananmen Square protests of 1989" is not. You might also want to check the second entry.

Re:Blogs (4, Interesting)

coaxial (28297) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684557)

That's interesting. I was in Beijing in April, and stayed at an "international" hotel there across the street from the Bird's Nest, and documented some experiments [robotmonkeys.net] .

My television received NHK, TV Monde, and CNN International. Once during a CNNi story about the protests in Tibet did the cable cut out. I have heard of the government doing that, but the images were later shown on CCTV, but of course the accompanying commentary would very likely be different.

Wikipedia was accessible, except for certain pages. Google.com was accessible, but if you googled a certain phrases, the connection would be reset, and you couldn't access google for a few seconds.

Domains like tibet.com simply wouldn't resolve.

Seemed like every Taiwanese forum/blog was blocked.

How it works. (5, Informative)

physman_wiu (933339) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684203)

In America, the Internet was originally designed to be free of choke points, so that each packet of information could be routed quickly around any temporary obstruction. In China, the Internet came with choke points built in. Even now, virtually all Internet contact between China and the rest of the world is routed through a very small number of fiber-optic cables that enter the country at one of three points: the Beijing-Qingdao-Tianjin area in the north, where cables come in from Japan; Shanghai on the central coast, where they also come from Japan; and Guangzhou in the south, where they come from Hong Kong. (A few places in China have Internet service via satellite, but that is both expensive and slow. Other lines run across Central Asia to Russia but carry little traffic.) In late 2006, Internet users in China were reminded just how important these choke points are when a seabed earthquake near Taiwan cut some major cables serving the country. It took months before international transmissions to and from most of China regained even their pre-quake speed, such as it was.

Thus Chinese authorities can easily do something that would be harder in most developed countries: physically monitor all traffic into or out of the country. They do so by installing at each of these few 'international gateways' a device called a 'tapper' or 'network sniffer,' which can mirror every packet of data going in or out. This involves mirroring in both a figurative and a literal sense. 'Mirroring' is the term for normal copying or backup operations, and in this case real though extremely small mirrors are employed. Information travels along fiber-optic cables as little pulses of light, and as these travel through the Chinese gateway routers, numerous tiny mirrors bounce reflections of them to a separate set of 'Golden Shield' computers.Here the term's creepiness is appropriate. As the other routers and servers (short for file servers, which are essentially very large-capacity computers) that make up the Internet do their best to get the packet where it's supposed to go, China's own surveillance computers are looking over the same information to see whether it should be stopped.

Think again of the real importance of the Great Firewall. Does the Chinese government really care if a citizen can look up the Tiananmen Square entry on Wikipedia? Of course not. Anyone who wants that information will get it-by using a proxy server or VPN, by e-mailing to a friend overseas, even by looking at the surprisingly broad array of foreign magazines that arrive, uncensored, in Chinese public libraries.

What the government cares about is making the quest for information just enough of a nuisance that people generally won't bother. Most Chinese people, like most Americans, are interested mainly in their own country. All around them is more information about China and things Chinese than they could possibly take in. The newsstands are bulging with papers and countless glossy magazines. The bookstores are big, well stocked, and full of patrons, and so are the public libraries. Video stores, with pirated versions of anything. Lots of TV channels. And of course the Internet, where sites in Chinese and about China constantly proliferate. When this much is available inside the Great Firewall, why go to the expense and bother, or incur the possible risk, of trying to look outside?

All the technology employed by the Golden Shield, all the marvelous mirrors that help build the Great Firewallâ"these and other modern achievements matter mainly for an old-fashioned and pre-technological reason. By making the search for external information a nuisance, they drive Chinese people back to an environment in which familiar tools of social control come into play.
http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200803/chinese-firewall [theatlantic.com] So they are going to let certain IPs get anything they want. So it won't even seem like there is a 'Golden Shield' to most foreigners that visit China for the Olympics.

Terrible (2, Informative)

gigne (990887) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684225)

Ugh. A terrible article which you could summarise in one sentence..
"Use a VPN or proxy if you want to use the internet without fear or restriction."

I was hoping for more detailed information on the operational hardware involved in filtering a country, not confirmation it happens, which is already widely known.

Re:Terrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23686593)

I also would have liked some more details. It repeated the oft-cited claim that CNN has been blocked in China, and it was listed along with BBC News and others. Yet from my own personal experience in China, I didn't see CNN blocked at any time in four years on use.. while BBC News was blocked for the entire time. I wish more people would reside in China to do serious and ongoing research, instead of lazily repeating unverifiable claims.

Don't worry. (2, Insightful)

physman_wiu (933339) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684333)

I really think that they feel they have a reason to censor the net for places where most foreigners are going to be hanging out during the Olympics. Most of those places aren't going to have your average Chinese citizen just looking for a way to get around the firewall.

The government cares about their 'face' and they aren't going to want to the rest of the world seeing what they do control. They'll just let those places have access and then after the Olympics, restrict it again.

blocked sites (2, Informative)

pangloss (25315) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684345)

Some of the sites that I know to be blocked:

Blogger
Blogspot
Flickr (only the photo serving subdomains)
Typepad
Wordpress

Formerly blocked, but now open:
Wikipedia
BBC News

As far as I'm aware, the blocks on the blog-related sites are domain or netblock level--not the result of keyword or content-level filtering.

Defend citizens (4, Interesting)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684465)

...necessary to protect the country's citizens.
It's not protecting Chinese citizens that's the problem. It's protecting the rest of the world from the Chinese citizens [slashdot.org] that concerns me.

lol (1)

umbl3r (1247150) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684965)

i was in a hotel in china once for work, and got the connection turned off because i was using TOR and they couldn't see what i was doing LOL, so i just used someones wifi

Foreigner Have It the Wrong Way Around (4, Informative)

mutantcamel (213431) | more than 6 years ago | (#23685059)

Largely, amongst the well educated, English speaking professional Chinese people that I meet (I've lived in China for 2 years) who are in their mid/late 20's, the reverence and respect they havefor the CCP is probably more fervant tham amongst the older generation who helped to found the People's Republic. The patriostism gives way to nationalism, and I find some of my friends who I had respected as having been able to form their own intelligent opinions on the world at large have descended into China-loving, French-hating lunatics.

Westerners have to try to understand that the generation that's in it's mid-late 20's owe their standard of living and level income to the Communist Party, they and look to the party members for moral guidance. Propaganda, even on the "international" CCTV-9 has reached an all time high with wall to wall interview of people who have lost everything praising the work of the government.

When it comes to Internet censorship, it's largely a joke. Websites can be overcome with any number of web proxies, and even if you can't get to the porn that you want, you can go to the local computer markets in Zhongguancun or Chaoyangmen, where you'll be offered "DVD sex movies". The BBC had been unblocked, but blocks are still in place for servers on Flicker and on Livejournal and Blogspot.

The government here is rather sneaky. They don't say that they actively and specifically filter websites, rather, they ask ISPs to self-censor and these ISP's face heavy fines for allowing undesirable content through. This is the reason that websites that are accessbile in Shanghai aren't accessible in Beijing or other parts of China.

A good project to keep an eye on is Concept Doppler, which has a list of what keywords and phrases are filtered by the GFW. What is interesting is that of all the tests that CD team performed, a certain number of the phrases did managed to get through the filter, showing that the GFW doesn't filter everything all the time, but filters some most of the time, which creates the impression that everything is filtered, and, ultimately, keeps people scared.

Try China's Great Firewall by yourself (4, Informative)

pythonist (1289628) | more than 6 years ago | (#23685425)

You can register an SSH account in a Unix machine located in China and try GFW by yourself

http://www.unix-center.net/uc/reg.php [unix-center.net]

sorry but the page is in Chinese only

Re:Try China's Great Firewall by yourself (2, Informative)

pythonist (1289628) | more than 6 years ago | (#23685659)

or you can use 'pythonist' account:

ssh pythonist@x4100.unix-center.net
passwd: slashdotting

pls don't change the passwd

Re:Try China's Great Firewall by yourself (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23686057)

I traveled from Shanghai to Kunming and then north into the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) last year. I was in China for a total of 28 days. I had my Linux-based laptop with me the entire time and never had a problem locating an open wireless access point. Nor did I have any problem using SSH to connect to my boxes back in the states. I use my own SquirrelMail based web mail via SSL, and only once in 28 days did I find myself blocked from that stateside box. Their firewall leaks like a sieve.

GFW reflects gap of generations in China (3, Informative)

pythonist (1289628) | more than 6 years ago | (#23686523)

Having gained my four year college education in University of Science and Tech. of China, I have some experience on GFW. Chinese people's attitude toward GFW reflects gap of old and young generations.

Almost all young Chinese, me included, think GFW is totally stupid and the people who are in charge of the blocking have pig brains. why?

1. CNN/BBS/FalunGong/TibetGIE should not be blocked since nobody in China reads them.

2. Some irrelevant websites such as sourceforge used to be blocked.

However, most of old people(our parent generation) have opposite opinions. They think Internet is full of pornography, additive games, violence and bad guys/gals. Indeed, I know some brilliant high school students including my own nephew ruined by net addition.

However, I think cyber censorship ss more like stupid ISPs' wanting to be "politically right" rather than central gov's direct command.

Techno-Fascism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23685703)

Worringly, fascism seems to be embedded in the IT-revolution. What is the principal difference between the Bush/McCain all-American wiretapping and the Chinesese monitoring efforts? And what are the principal differences when effects are considered?

WAN GANG?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23686719)

Does anyone else find it hilarious that the guy running the great firewall of china is named "Wan Gang"

Just me I guess
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