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Americans And Chinese Internet Censorship

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the can-you-read-this-in-beijing dept.

Censorship 718

chowbok writes: "The Weekly Standard writes that despite expectations, the Chinese Government has been very successful in suppressing free internet access for their citizens. Key to this success was the assistance of Cisco, who built a giant firewall tailored to the state's needs, Yahoo (who helpfully censors search results and monitors online chats), and other Western companies."

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This post is dedicated (-1, Offtopic)

RMSIsAnIdiot (556315) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029787)

To egg troll, whom I miss dearly.

wtf is wrong with /. ? (-1)

real_b0fh (557599) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029804)

the order of the posts (oldest first) is all messed up.

Fixit you damn amateurs. Bet you run mysql (pfft) behind this site.

JOKE TIME!!!!!! (-1)

L.Torvalds (548450) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029835)

Q: What do you get when cross an negroe with a gorilla?

A: A retarded gorilla.

On Kuro5hin as well (1)

rajivvarma (71946) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029789)

yeah, and read this too: (-1)

real_b0fh (557599) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029796)

Some years ago, I was snooping around in the cabinets that housed the MIT AI Lab's PDP-10, and noticed a little switch glued to the frame of one cabinet. It was obviously a homebrew job, added by one of the lab's hardware hackers (no one knows who).

You don't touch an unknown switch on a computer without knowing what it does, because you might crash the computer. The switch was labeled in a most unhelpful way. It had two positions, and scrawled in pencil on the metal switch body were the words `magic' and `more magic'. The switch was in the `more magic' position.

I called another hacker over to look at it. He had never seen the switch before either. Closer examination revealed that the switch had only one wire running to it! The other end of the wire did disappear into the maze of wires inside the computer, but it's a basic fact of electricity that a switch can't do anything unless there are two wires connected to it. This switch had a wire connected on one side and no wire on its other side.

It was clear that this switch was someone's idea of a silly joke. Convinced by our reasoning that the switch was inoperative, we flipped it. The computer instantly crashed.

Imagine our utter astonishment. We wrote it off as coincidence, but nevertheless restored the switch to the `more magic' position before reviving the computer.

A year later, I told this story to yet another hacker, David Moon as I recall. He clearly doubted my sanity, or suspected me of a supernatural belief in the power of this switch, or perhaps thought I was fooling him with a bogus saga. To prove it to him, I showed him the very switch, still glued to the cabinet frame with only one wire connected to it, still in the `more magic' position. We scrutinized the switch and its lone connection, and found that the other end of the wire, though connected to the computer wiring, was connected to a ground pin. That clearly made the switch doubly useless: not only was it electrically nonoperative, but it was connected to a place that couldn't affect anything anyway. So we flipped the switch.

The computer promptly crashed.

This time we ran for Richard Greenblatt, a long-time MIT hacker, who was close at hand. He had never noticed the switch before, either. He inspected it, concluded it was useless, got some diagonal cutters and diked it out. We then revived the computer and it has run fine ever since.

We still don't know how the switch crashed the machine. There is a theory that some circuit near the ground pin was marginal, and flipping the switch changed the electrical capacitance enough to upset the circuit as millionth-of-a-second pulses went through it. But we'll never know for sure; all we can really say is that the switch was magic.

I still have that switch in my basement. Maybe I'm silly, but I usually keep it set on `more magic'.

1994: Another explanation of this story has since been offered. Note that the switch body was metal. Suppose that the non-connected side of the switch was connected to the switch body (usually the body is connected to a separate earth lug, but there are exceptions). The body is connected to the computer case, which is, presumably, grounded. Now the circuit ground within the machine isn't necessarily at the same potential as the case ground, so flipping the switch connected the circuit ground to the case ground, causing a voltage drop/jump which reset the machine. This was probably discovered by someone who found out the hard way that there was a potential difference between the two, and who then wired in the switch as a joke.

Re:yeah, and read this too: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3029814)

for those that don't know, that's an ESR story..

blogwars (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3029793)

I think that I have finally found a site as good as slashdot, blogwars [] !

Why? (4, Insightful)

dj28 (212815) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029797)

It always amazed me why China connected to the public internet anyways if they are going to censor everything except the stuff _they_ want their citizens to see. Wouldn't it have been much more efficient to build the network and not connect it to the public internet? All they would have to do then is place information on their network they want their citizens to see. In any even, it's pretty screwed up.

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029852)

First off, who are you to impose your values on others? Maybe the chinese like their society, maybe they don't. But its not upto *you* to force your values on others.

I mean we can make up stats like there is no tommorow showing one side in favour of the other. In the end your conclusion is "This is my society, and that is yours".

The point of the censorship is not to close off the outside world, just stuff the g' determines is inappropriate.

Why don't we sell playboys and such to 6 yr olds now? While the g' in China is not just censoring from 6 yr olds the same ideas apply.

Which is why for example hate speech [in certain forms] is illegal in Canada but not in the U.S.

So are you going to say Canada is some 3rd rate country because we have "censorship" on hate speech? [*]

Everytime china comes up every american spews their views on why China is inferior. Maybe its high time you look at your own damn society for faults. On an aside. I just realized I sit on a bus full of 50 people for about 45 mins each day and I haven't said a word to any of them. For that matter they all remain quiet themselves...

Point being, if you want to look on improving a society take a look around your own. You'll be amazed at how imperfect your world is. The best thing you can do is try to improve it and stop bitching.


Re:Why? (1)

God_Retired (44721) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029886)

Hmmmm... So nobody has the right to critisize anything until they have reached perfection?

And there is something wrong with wanting people to have free access to information so that they can make informed decisions about their lives and government?

I almost understand the gut level reaction that you were kind of echoing, but then I don't.

Re:Why? (1)

vicviper (140480) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029898)

I would like to propose a new moderation value of "Non sequitur"


Re:Why? (3, Funny)

volsung (378) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029952)

I propose we just make a moderation called "Stupid" that will be more multipurpose. Otherwise, we'll really need additional moderations like "Incoherent", "Axe-grinding", "Talking out of posterior".

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3029992)

perhaps you shouldn't be so quick to critisize others yourself. what he was questioning was why china chose to do it the way they did. it would have made more sence if china simply created their own network, which they controled, and which wasn't accessible from the outside (and vv). considering the whole idea of the internet (or at least a good aspect of it) is to promote the easy, open exchange of ideas.

the only opinion he expressed was that it was "screwed up". and was just that. an _opinion_. i'd write more...but i'm tired of responding to flaming idiots.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

fishebulb (257214) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029896)

take a history class. Censorship is a common practice in the US.

Lets see, WWI, its illegal to hinder the war effort. One man was arrested for distrubiting flyers to draftees. Freedom of speech, apparently not. And now you say but that was then.

we have so many laws in the US that effectively controls most forms of speech. These laws have legit purposes, but they have been and will continue to control unpopular speech.

Want to get on a soap box downtown in a peaceful, way (ie not shouting at the top of your lungs). Well thats loitering, disturbing the peace.

Free speech seems to be one of those values in the US that is only really protected, as long as its what your saying is popular.

atleast written and digital censorship is a little less existant. but its amazing what laws are out there.

I find it funny and disturbing that there are NO LOITERING signs at out public parks.

Re:Why? (1)

Metrollica (552191) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029914)

China is in a catch-22 situation. It realizes that if it wants to continue with its economic reform and expansion it has to move into international markets. To do this China will have to make contacts outside its boarders. The Internet is a great tool for this.

There are already a number of Chinese promotional groups advertising on the net in attempt to attract North American and European business to come to China and open up new markets for them.

They realize that advanced technology is needed for their growing economy. However, China also sees this new telecommunication era that includes the Internet as a threat to its moral and political beliefs. China does not want to allow its citizens to obtain porn or political information that could threaten the revolutionary government's control.

Ideally, China would like to have a system in which it could portray itself in a positive light to the rest of the world, while stopping its citizens from viewing any of the negative criticisms that are directed at China.

Simple (2, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029961)

It always amazed me why China connected to the public internet anyways if they are going to censor everything except the stuff _they_ want their citizens to see.

The leadership recognises that to compete in the world the China must interact with the rest of it, but to preserve their positions in power the leaders restrict it. Keep in mind that there are conservative elements in the Beijing goverment who are opposed to many of these advances. Once the government loses more of these people and they're replaced with leaders from the new middle and upper classes, well, things should change.

On another note... I wonder if any chinese leaders have mod points on slashdot?

Re:Why? (2)

AntiNorm (155641) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029970)

This would ultimately be futile. All it really takes is one machine on the network that has a connection to the public internet, and bang -- the whole network is on the public internet. And it is possible that there would be a lot of people that would be willing to do this. An analogy would be DeCSS mirrors...stopping them or shutting them all down is more or less futile because there will always be more people willing to do it in the name of "stopping the man."

Figures... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3029800)

Once again, you've got American corporations helping out regimes that suppress the civilians of other countries. And if it gets rowdy, don't worry, the American government can help fund the armies for those regimes.

And this is why they send planes through American buildings.

Re:Figures... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3029833)

"And this is why they send planes through American buildings"

I thought it was because they were looking to bang your sister. And all along it has to do with Cisco.

What a wealth of info you are.

P.S., I'll be sure to send your post up to the NYFD and NYPD. I'm sure they'll get a big laugh out of it.

Is hitting preview really that hard? (0, Offtopic)

m@ltese (18217) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029803)

If an editor can't spare two seconds to proofread their postings, why should I spend even one second reading it?

Re:Is hitting preview really that hard? (-1, Troll)

Ralph Malph Alpha (551824) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029851)

Right, it's like I've been saying all along.

First let it be said now, last night's episode of Futurama featured Pizzicato Five's "Baby Love Child", officially making it the only Futurama episode ever worth watching, unless you are a faggay and like watching homofaggay showz and making gaylove in the butt. And the Chinese know this.

At this point in my post I would like to direct everyone's attention to another one of Timmahs' faggoty article-posting mistakes. [] If he never fixes it, it will be archived for all of eternity on slashdot's servers with his glaring mistake easily visible by viewing the source of this page. []

This is not the first time this has happened. [] First the violent videogame story then the Mozilla timeline story. WHAT AN INCOMPETANT SLASHFAG, a whole day later and HE HASN'T NOTICED HIS OWN MISTAKE.

So declarez Donny Most, TV's beloved Ralph Malph Alpha of Happy Dayz fame. Propz to all dead Joanie, A CHA CHA I GOT IT I STILL GOT IT.

P.S. If anyone is disgusted by my posting style, then to Timmah I say (to quote a famous american anti-drug commercial where a son is speaking to his father): I LEARNED IT FROm WATCHING YOU.

Re:Is hitting preview really that hard? (1)

Snuffub (173401) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029889)

I dont know. Why did you?

page widening post! (-1)

Klerck (213193) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029805)

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.susephone .tex .uitrc.console .uitrc.vt100 .uitrc.vt102 .uitrc.xterm .urlview .vimrc .xcoralrc .xfm .xim .xinitrc .xsession .xtalkrc.Xdefaults .Xmodmap .Xresources .addressbook .bash_history .bashrc .dayplan .dayplan.priv .dvipsrc .emacs .exrc .gimprc .grok .holiday .hotjava .jazz .kde .kermrc .lyxrc .muttrc .nc_keys .pgp .pinerc .profile .seyon .signature .ssh .stonxrc .susephone .tex .uitrc.console .uitrc.vt100 .uitrc.vt102 .uitrc.xterm .urlview .vimrc .xcoralrc .xfm .xim .xinitrc .xsession .xtalkrc.Xdefaults .Xmodmap .Xresources .addressbook .bash_history .bashrc .dayplan .dayplan.priv .dvipsrc .emacs .exrc .gimprc .grok .holiday .hotjava .jazz .kde .kermrc .lyxrc .muttrc .nc_keys .pgp .pinerc .profile .seyon .signature .ssh .stonxrc .susephone .tex .uitrc.console .uitrc.vt100 .uitrc.vt102 .uitrc.xterm .urlview .vimrc .xcoralrc .xfm .xim .xinitrc .xsession .xtalkrc.Xdefaults .Xmodmap .Xresources .addressbook .bash_history .bashrc .dayplan .dayplan.priv .dvipsrc .emacs .exrc .gimprc 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.stonxrc .susephone .tex .uitrc.console .uitrc.vt100 .uitrc.vt102 .uitrc.xterm .urlview .vimrc .xcoralrc .xfm .xim .xinitrc .xsession .xtalkrc.Xdefaults .Xmodmap .Xresources .addressbook .bash_history .bashrc .dayplan .dayplan.priv .dvipsrc .emacs .exrc .gimprc .grok .holiday .hotjava .jazz .kde .kermrc .lyxrc .muttrc .nc_keys .pgp .pinerc .profile .seyon .signature .ssh .stonxrc .susephone .tex .uitrc.console .uitrc.vt100 .uitrc.vt102 .uitrc.xterm .urlview .vimrc .xcoralrc .xfm .xim .xinitrc .xsession .xtalkrc.Xdefaults .Xmodmap .Xresources .addressbook .bash_history .bashrc .dayplan .dayplan.priv .dvipsrc .emacs .exrc .gimprc .grok .holiday .hotjava .jazz .kde .kermrc .lyxrc .muttrc .nc_keys .pgp .pinerc .profile .seyon .signature .ssh .stonxrc .susephone .tex .uitrc.console .uitrc.vt100 .uitrc.vt102 .uitrc.xterm .urlview .vimrc .xcoralrc .xfm .xim .xinitrc .xsession .xtalkrc.Xdefaults .Xmodmap .Xresources .addressbook .bash_history .bashrc .dayplan .dayplan.priv .dvipsrc .emacs .exrc .gimprc .grok .holiday .hotjava .jazz .kde .kermrc .lyxrc .muttrc .nc_keys .pgp .pinerc .profile .seyon .signature .ssh .stonxrc .susephone .tex .uitrc.console .uitrc.vt100 .uitrc.vt102 .uitrc.xterm .urlview .vimrc .xcoralrc .xfm .xim .xinitrc .xsession .xtalkrc.Xdefaults .Xmodmap .Xresources .addressbook .bash_history .bashrc .dayplan .dayplan.priv .dvipsrc .emacs .exrc .gimprc .grok .holiday .hotjava .jazz .kde .kermrc .lyxrc .muttrc .nc_keys .pgp .pinerc .profile .seyon .signature .ssh .stonxrc .susephone .tex .uitrc.console .uitrc.vt100 .uitrc.vt102 .uitrc.xterm .urlview .vimrc .xcoralrc .xfm .xim .xinitrc .xsession .xtalkrc.Xdefaults .Xmodmap .Xresources .addressbook .bash_history .bashrc .dayplan .dayplan.priv .dvipsrc .emacs .exrc .gimprc .grok .holiday .hotjava .jazz .kde .kermrc

eh (-1)

real_b0fh (557599) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029838)

it didn't work (at least on NS6.2)

keep trying tough.

Re:eh (-1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029860)

works on ie6, annoying as all hell too. why don't you have a script do that as AC so mods waste points modding them down? right now you're at -1 and just make it harder on us trolls.

Re:page widening post! (-1)

Super Mario Troll (542762) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029882)

Death to page widening posts! I'm @ work, and I have to use that piece of shit browser IE. Now I can't read all the good trolls, you fux0ring cockwanker.

Join with me! End all page widening posts!

No offense, timothy... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3029806)

...but this is the second story in a row in which you haven't proofread the text. If nothing else matters to you, at least realize it makes you look like an idiot.

You can always depend on Cisco (1)

Sivar (316343) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029813)

"Key to this success was the assistance of Cisco, who built a giant firewall tailored to the state's needs, Yahoo (who helpfully censors search results and monitors online chats)"

Cisco -- The Big Brother Company.

Re:You can always depend on Cisco (1)

SLot (82781) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029863)

If it hadn't been Cisco, it would have been somebody else.

Re:You can always depend on Cisco (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3029875)

If it hadn't been the world trade center, it would have been somewhere else.

Re:You can always depend on Cisco (1)

Sivar (316343) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029947)

Quite right. Ethics rarely factors in when making massive business decisions. Even if no company helped, China would have found a way regardless, so it may as well be a source of income as well.

Re:You can always depend on Cisco (2)

NumberSyx (130129) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029946)

I guess we all know for sure now, freedom and democracy take a backseat to capitalism.

Spying on China (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3029817)

Maybe the US government helped make these special Cisco routers, so that as well as acting as a great firewall for the Chinese, it also sends sensitive info about the Chinese government secretly to the CIA.

Why don't they just move to America (0)

Mayor McPenisman (557253) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029818)

Sheesh, those crazy people need to learn that America is the land of prosperity, not the land of wind and ghosts!

the FBI only raids people who suck, and everyone makes mistakes!

China can sukkit for all I care, man, what a bunch of losers!

a thought... (2, Interesting)

zook (34771) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029819)

Maybe we need a law prohibiting US companies from participating in the denial of human rights to individuals home and abroad. It seems like the self-proclaimed defender of the oppressed should at least make sure that her companies aren't contributing to the problem.

Re:a thought... (1)

SLot (82781) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029854)

Shouldn't that be the responsibility of the shareholders? Nothing is stopping you from buying
a single share and getting a proposal in front of the shareholders.

And as much as I personally diagree with it, your proposal would probably be shot down.

Not really (0)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029880)

When a US Comapnies foreign policy conflicts with teh foreign policy of the US government, I would hope the government would win.

But of course companies are not for sale, governments are.

Thats a good idea. (2)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029893)

Although you'd get huge argument from die-hard liberatarians (well, some of 'em. Others might argue that taking away human rights is taking away other's right to the persuit of happyness... and that you shouldn't work with communist counties anyway)

But who knows. I doubt that china would really have not been able to do this on their own, it would just have taken more time, time that their citizens wouldn't have been able to get on the 'net at all.

Re:a thought... (1)

fishebulb (257214) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029938)

is Cisco a US company? seriousely. IBM is a US based company on paper only. There headquarters and R&D (to push down the profit margin) are in the US, but EVERYTHING else is out of the country. This way they pay very little taxes. This may have changed for IBM in particular, but the majority of the so called US companies, really arent anymore

It may be a good campaign... (2, Interesting)

Archie Steel (539670) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029821)

...for hacktivists to try and find a way around that wall. After all, it's not illegal for us to get information to them...also, I imagine there will be quite a few bold Chinese hackers trying the same on the other side. Perhaps this could be the ultimate proof that individuals, ordinary citizens, can conquer antiquated state dictatorships (as well as clueless Internet companies who provide them with the tools to oppress their people)...

Cisco built (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3029822)

the Great Firewall of China?

Is it visible from space, too?

haha, thats funny (0)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029871)

Great Firewall of China. The past repeats itself.

Isin't this contrary to our governments policys? Why are our corporations allowed to do things our goverment would not?

Re:Cisco built (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029873)

Boo, hiss!

Ah, hell, mod it up anyway, it is kinda funny.

No wonder (1, Offtopic)

Peridriga (308995) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029823)

chowback liked Clueless [] as a movie... So mistakes arn't his biggest worries

Re:No wonder (2)

Peridriga (308995) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029837)

chowbak... Thats my mistake... I'll take credit :-)

Go Capitalism! Rah! Rah! (2)

WakieMakie (451544) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029825)

This reminds me of the book about how IBM helped Nazi Germany deal with all it's informational needs, you know population tracking ,organizing and sorting. Anything for a Buck!

Re:Go Capitalism! Rah! Rah! (2, Insightful)

evilpaul13 (181626) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029877)

These companies are just meeting someone's demand for a product. Shouldn't we be more upset with the Chinese Gov't (or Nazi's as in your example) for their trampling their people's inalienable rights?

Something to think about: Would we all feel better if they used a mainframe or cluster running Linux and ipchains?

The problem is what they are doing, not how they go about it.

I'm a genius (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3029826)

I converted the entire Wagner opera The Ring of Nibelungen to a wave file (it's huge), hung it out on a citrix server and made that my boss's mail notification sound file. I then subscribed him to several beginning C++ mailing lists.

Come review time, I'm expecing a huge raise


Capitalism (3, Interesting)

mikeage (119105) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029829)

That's pure capitalism: a movement dedicated to economic growth over moral (in this case, freedom) concerns. Honestly-- I see no problem here. Well, we can complain about China, but I think Yahoo and Cisco etc. can't be faulted for what they did, unless we accept the idea that money doesn't actually rule the world (ironically enough, that was Marx-- Mao was a bit more of a nutcase).

everybody's a congolomarate (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3029830)

Global One, Sprint-France Telecom-Deutsche Telekom joint venture

Reminds me of The Onion's Omnicorp...

Surprise! (0, Redundant)

crush (19364) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029839)

the internet no longer has independent self-motivated content producers as its major players: instead big business has come in and trampled all over the commons. Things are heading down a similar path everywhere in the so-called "democratic" countries: it turns out that the RaiseTheFist FBI raid that everyone was so concerned about was completely bogus. Bogus, in the sense that the government had no evidence against Sherman for the supposed "hacking" crimes, and the "fertilizer" that was supposed to be in his possession turned out to be potting soil. LOL! Check out the updates [] on this story of attempted perversion of the First Amendment.

Re:Surprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3029899)

Death to Sherman!!

Re:Surprise! (1)

thelizman (304517) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029945)

If you'll kindly put down the crackpipe, you may notice that there is more independant self motivated content producers on the internet than anywhere else.,, and our own just to name a few. I hardly even bother with C|Net, CNN, and their ilk anymore.

SPAM? (4, Interesting)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029846)

If these firewalls are so good why do I get so much porn and get-rich-quick spam through Chinese open relays? If nothing else, the spam would be a good channel for steganographic messages to and from dissidents.

Agreed (2)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 12 years ago | (#3030007)

I'm really surprised the Chinese Government hasn't shut down freaking china-net. Does anyone have any evidence of any sort of steganography being used by the Chinese?

I'm even more surprised that all the users of this site haven't put together some decent specs for a smarter email server. There are a couple of halfway solutions out there but we need something good. I guess I'll have to do it myself.

Other "Massive-Scale" Filters (2)

Tony.Tang (164961) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029847)

I had a discussion with a (less technically minded) friend the other day. Her contention was that "someone" (ISP's, presumably) should be in control of all the porn content online. This way, the ISP would be able to offer two services: (1) all the internet in its pr0n glory and, (2) the "friendly" internet without the pr0n.

The discussion went back and forth, her perspective mainly being, "it doesn't matter how technically infeasible it is. I am a consumer. I'll pay big bucks for it." I was arguing against the idea from a technical feasibility standpoint -- the scale of filtering would be massive, and automated filtering would produce all sorts of errors (false positives and negatives).

But, the great firewall of China is an interesting argument for the other side of the coin. If something this massive has actually been successful, isn't the great pr0n filter a feasible idea, too?

Think of the commercial implications!

China is still reaching critical mass (5, Interesting)

jACL (75401) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029853)

There was a very insightful (and long) article that I came across on the Atlantic Monthly's site a while back. Called 'Was Democracy Just a Moment' [] , its central point was that economic development and a strong middle class needs to develop in a country before democracy can succeed. The article predicts that democracy, were it to 'break out' today in China, would at the very least cause a split of the country:

"Under its authoritarian system China has dramatically improved the quality of life for hundreds of millions of its people. My point, hard as it may be for Americans to accept, is that Russia may be failing in part because it is a democracy and China may be succeeding in part because it is not. Having traveled through much of western China, where Muslim Turkic Uighurs (who despise the Chinese) often predominate, I find it hard to imagine a truly democratic China without at least a partial breakup of the country. Such a breakup would lead to chaos in western China, because the Uighurs are poorer and less educated than most Chinese and have a terrible historical record of governing themselves. Had the student demonstrations in 1989 in Tiananmen Square led to democracy, would the astoundingly high economic growth rates of the 1990s still obtain? I am not certain, because democracy in China would have ignited turmoil not just in the Muslim west of the country but elsewhere, too; order would have decreased but corruption would not have. The social and economic breakdowns under democratic rule in Albania and Bulgaria, where the tradition of pre-communist bourgeois life is weak or nonexistent (as in China), contrasted with more-successful democratic venues like Hungary and the Czech Republic, which have had well-established bourgeoisie, constitute further proof that our belief in democracy regardless of local conditions amounts to cultural hubris."

Heady stuff, and something that really made my head spin -- wasn't democracy good in all situations and all cases? The author would probably assert that censorship will continue to occur in China until a stable economy and strong middle class break open China to democracy, at which point it will end.

Re:China is still reaching critical mass (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029927)

Social change only succeeds where and when the people are ready for it. Forcing democracy on people who aren't fed up with their present system only creates chaos.

Though in a sci fi book I read, there's some arguement for various types of governance in certain societies, due to population and density. A presidential election in China would be quite the thing to supervise, particularly after a state like Florida had so much trouble. Possibly a different makeup where provinces elect senators (or MP's) who elect the PM or president. As I hear and read tho, the central government is already less of an influence, as mayors and provincial leaders have gained significant political muscle, and corruption. When the people get tired of the corruption then it will change.

Democracy in Russia wasn't so much that they cast-off the old authoritarian state if favor of it, they just cast off the old authoritarian state because they were sick of it. Russians are still trying democracy on for size, and will keep what they like and ditch what they don't.

The Ovens of Corporate America (4, Insightful)

hyrdra (260687) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029856)

Of all the rhetoric in this very disturbing piece of how western companies are helping censorship overseas, I found this comment most interesting:

"We don't care about the [Chinese government's] rules. It's none of Cisco's business."

Similar to how Mercedes or BMW didn't care much for what those giant ovens were used for in NAZI Germany, because it was none of their business. Oh how the ashes fall.

Disgusting. I can say I will never think of Cisco the same way again. What if the US decided they needed to "monitor" citizen Internet communications? Would Cisco step up with one of their enterprise level solutions?

Right next to Oracle with bids for a national ID card...

Re:The Ovens of Corporate America (2)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029965)

We recently had an argument very similar to this on my LUG list about web filtering in libraries and schools. Evidently a large portion of Americans don't think censorship of the reader is the same as censorship of the writer and most don't seem to think it's wrong to censor what others can read. Many also seem to feel that it's okay to do something that is wrong if it's their job or to do so is compliant with the law.

I guess in light of those results I'm not at all surprised that corporate America is helping destroy freedom. Hopefully, there is at least enough people that do object to such behavior that we can at least mourn the death of freedom. The experiment the United States played such a large part in seems to be over and it's failed. Rah rah go greed and power.

Re:The Ovens of Corporate America (2)

gnovos (447128) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029986)

Of all the rhetoric in this very disturbing piece of how western companies are helping censorship overseas, I found this comment most interesting:

"We don't care about the [Chinese government's] rules. It's none of Cisco's business."

Similar to how Mercedes or BMW didn't care much for what those giant ovens were used for in NAZI Germany, because it was none of their business. Oh how the ashes fall.

Oh! Or how about how the drug dealers contribute to terrorism? Isn't this the same kind of thing? We are cracking down on those helping out the "terrorists", but doing nothing to those who are helping out the single most evil and cruel socio-political system in the history of the new world? This is logical?

Cheers!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3029858)

To CmdrTaco and his quite large wife!

What the mightY evil capitalists won't do for a $ (2, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029861)

Ok, so they forget that the free exchange of ideas is what made them the successes they are today and for a few yuan will sell citizens of another country down the river, an effort that would have put some executives on the firing line in the cold war. Seems Clinton's, and now Bush's, administrations have selective sets of morals in this regard. We want to do business with them, but we won't do more than give lip service for their rights, and let 'em into the WTO.

Well, eventually Yertle the Turtle will fall in Beijing and some people will remember who helped keep him there. As it is, the chinese are working hard to displace the U.S. as #1 in many fields and they'll probably suceed in a few, just out of shear determination. Maybe it's the fear of that which makes the U.S. foreign policy the conumdrum that it is with regard to China.

Any chinese slashdotters?

Please... (5, Insightful)

Stickerboy (61554) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029973)

I am Chinese, and frankly, you don't make a lot of sense. To further extend your argument, when China becomes "free", Chinese citizens will blame the Russians for selling them tanks and warplanes that fill the arsenal of the People's army, blame the Chinese newspaper editors for writing articles that spread Communist Party ideology and blame the Chinese factory workers that manufactured the bullets that shot the democracy protesters at Tianenmen Square.

I may have grown up in a foreign culture, but I can spot someone with an axe to grind when I see one. Your disgust at "Big Business" and "Big Government" has nothing to do with the rights or attitudes of the Chinese people, but rather with you wanting to blame the what's wrong with the world on those that you don't agree with.

The Chinese nation will sort themselves out over a long time, and probably peacefully, too - that's the Chinese way, to take the long, nonconfrontational view. The best thing that Clinton and Bush have done, and what you seem so opposed to, is to allow US businesses to continue to invest in China, further stimulating the economy and slowly raising living standards for the Chinese people. With increased living standards, more power to the middle class and greater education, the people of China will ask for more freedom and representation incrementally, and the government of China will grant the inevitable.

The average Chinese citizen does not want your revolution. They want orderly, nonviolent change. The US companies are just doing business, no more and no less, and that business helps along that change.

Re:What the mightY evil capitalists won't do for a (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3029998)

Ok, so they forget that the free exchange of ideas is what made them the successes they are today...

No, what made those comapnies what they are today is free exchange of capital.

Chinese IP Space (4, Interesting)

cluge (114877) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029864)

Almost 1/3 of the SPAM sourcees I've encountered recently have been chinese. My ids LOGS regular ping sweeps and other probes coming from chinese held IP addresses. Chinese alerts account for about 24% of the IDS alerts. Some of these sweeps even originate in chinese government offices (since blocked because I'm tired of HUGE ping packets in my network from the beaurearu of statistics)

Considering the crap thats been spewing out of Chinese controlled IP space, I wouldn't be adverse to some reverse censorship. i.e. no chinsese IP's allowed in my network. The Chinese may not like what the NET has to offer their people, but they sure seem to dish out pretty silly stuff for the rest of us (My penis is much to big NOW, no more PLEASE).

I wonder if there was an easy way to blackhole all of mainland China? I wonder if the Chinese would consider THAT censorship?

I'm not saying that anyone should do this mind you, I'm just saying what goes around eventually comes around.

Uh... (2)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029920)

I doubt you would be able to get many people onboard for your "blackhole the chinese".

Yeh, spam is annoying, and I take mesures to keep my address out of the hands of spiders. But getting a couple ping packets isn't going to make me keep my selection of fine pornographic links from chinese citizens. (if they arn't blocked already, I doubt the CCP really cares about a 1k impression/day site run from a dorm room :P)

Re:Uh... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3029979)

I must say, I do like the asian ladies you link to on your site. Lately, though, the site has been kind of... well, off. It's not as enjoyable.... I don't want to see people peeing on eachother, or huge fat hairly black women with no legs or hands. Clean it up!

No first posts from china (1)

(outer-limits) (309835) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029874)

Need I say more.

Capitalism Rocks! (1)

jim.b0b (559877) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029876)

You'll give us how much to help supress your people?!?

Ironic.. (2, Insightful)

magnwa (18700) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029881)

Isn't It Ironic that the only company that fought the Chinese Oppression for their sales was Microsoft? Maybe they aren't so evil after all? Netscape.. Cisco.. Linux.. all those things are helping the Government spy on users in China.


Capitalist (5, Interesting)

Bolen (4896) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029884)

Wasn't it Joseph Stalin who said (paraphrasing here), "If you want to hang a capitalist, you can easily find another capitalist willing to sell you the rope."

Thanks a lot, Cisco.

Re:Capitalist (1)

thelizman (304517) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029925)

Who was it that said "A merchant knows no country but where he is currently standing". But then, it's a capitalists job to make money. It's our job to stop buying Cisco products in protest, or take advantage of SNMP flaws and Cisco's bugs to topple the Chinese government mwahahahaha!

Didn't hear a thing about Picture.exe (2, Offtopic)

hrieke (126185) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029903)

Picture.exe virus to grab your PGP keys?
Pretty damn scary stuff if the Chinese goverment is releasing this stuff into the wild. (But really no different than the FBI's key logger)

First post, bitches (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3029904)

cherish my balls as though they were uiuc.test

You want me.


Re:First post, bitches (-1, Troll)

Nergul (559728) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029982)

*Ahem*, This isn't the first post, as I'm sure you may have noticed. Also, why are you using profantiy? I'm hopeful that the Moderator will catch your feeble mind trying to express itself forcefully.

China (3, Interesting)

Renraku (518261) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029905)

I can see where the Chinese government is coming from here. They don't want anyone to get any bright ideas or fall for other countries' propaganda. Perfectly logical. However, the evil of the plan comes out when you see that the Chinese are terribly oppressed, and that the censorship cloud covers everything that the government doesn't like. Which would be a lot of things. Maybe the U.S. is trying to see if it works well, so they could possibly instate a similar system in the future...

Before you cry "BOYCOTT CISCO" (1)

sinserve (455889) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029906)

Read this site []
It was mentioned first in an /. post, a while ago, but but googled turned up the
link, and not the post itself.

This is just how capitalism works; if they rejected
to take the contract, they could have been sued
by their share holders.
But now, the guilt (if any) is spread, and every
one shares the profit.


Restriction is Futile (2)

Da_Biz (267075) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029912)

Is the PRC trying to block out ALL offensive traffic, or MOST offensive traffic? What about the use of techniques like steganography to encrypt data into seemingly "harmless" pictures, mp3's, etc.?

If I were a government, I'd never want to try to get into this sort of "information freedom" cold war. It's companies like Cisco, Yahoo and the Chinese government vs. 1,273,111,290 Chinese people, some of whom have had the benefit of an American graduate education in computer science and mathematics. I'd say the odds are slanted toward the people...

Triangle Boy (2, Interesting)

crush (19364) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029919)

The researcher that is cited as developing the anonymizer Triangle Boy in this article is working for the company SafeWeb [] which is supposed to be:
1. A CIA front
2. A company that produces software [] that they won't bug fix and yet is supposed to ensure anonymity.
Tchah! The only thing governments and their spook-agencies are good at doing is fscking things up.

The US could prohibit co-operation on censorship (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029923)

The US could, by legislation, prohibit U.S. companies from assisting with censorship in selected countries. There's an analogy to the Arab boycott of Israel [] , which led to lobbying by Israel for U.S. laws prohibiting American companies from cooperating with the Arab boycott.

There's an opportunity for a left-right coalition in the U.S. on this. The Right doesn't like China because they're Commies, and the Left doesn't like censorship.

Shocking (1)

JohnBE (411964) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029929)

With regards of technical equipment I do not know why we tolerate China's oppression of its people. Maybe the explanation that free-trade will make them more liberal may hold true. I don't know. If any other country behaved like that toward its people they would be widely critisised by the US and the EU. Austria voted in a [far] right wing administration and had sanctions imposed overnight and Robert Mugabe of Zimbagwe forced the EU, why not China? It's all about the ca$h . That or starving them of outside funding/equipment would make the situation worse.

Falung-gong, you're gone!

Reminds us that Capitalism is not Democracy (1)

z7209 (305927) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029939)

The market doesn't solve all problems, despite what Wall St. and industry associations would like us to believe, there is still a role for government (non-Enronized that is) in the 21st century.

CliqueNet (1)

a_d_white (458540) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029944)

CliqueNet [] is a peer-to-peer anonymous communication protocal based on Dining-cryptographers networks (CliqueNet makes the DC-net technique practical).

From the CliqueNet FAQ:

How do DC nets work ?
CliqueNet is based on Dining-Cryptographer networks, or DC-nets, originally suggested by Chaum in [C88]. DC-nets propagate a bit of information in the following way: suppose we have two participants, Alice and Bob, one of whom (e.g. Bob) would like to communicate a one-bit message to Charlie, but Alice and Bob want to hide the identity of the message originator. They first toss a coin in secret. Alice sends the truthful result of the coin flip to Charlie. Bob, on the other hand, reports the true result of the coin toss only if he wants to transmit a 0. If he wants to transmit a 1, Bob lies about the coin flip. Charlie deciphers the message by XOR?ing the values sent by Alice and Bob. If they both call out heads or tails, they are both telling the truth and the one-bit message is a zero; otherwise, one of them is lying, and the one-bit message is a one. Since Charlie does not know if it was Alice or Bob who lied about the coin toss, he can never determine who sent the message. This security guarantee is strong and information-theoretic: no amount of computational power can help Charlie determine that it was Bob who sent the message.

Basically, DC-nets guarantee anonymity no matter how much information you have about the network.

Its not so bad (4, Interesting)

mcdirmid (222110) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029955)

I can view almost all internet sites from China. I'm posting this from Beijing right now from a major Chinese University. I can access most websites except for a few free content sites (geocities) and some news sites ( Its strange, they block CNN but not New York Times, which, IMHO, is more critical of the Chinese government. Notice that Slashdot isn't blocked and its critical of almost everyone! So there filtering is not very consistent. They could get rid of the firewall tommorow and I think it would hardly change things.

I don't know about Chinese sites, I can only care about sites in English. As for spam, surely this is just b/c the networks in China are just not that well managed yet (e.g., like @Home networks once were...).

As for Cisco and Yahoo, they are doing business in China, and they are following Chinese laws. So what is the problem? Idealism and making money are mostly incompatible.

Re:Its not so bad (1)

sabinm (447146) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029971)

The Preceeding message was brought to you by the PLA.

Bringing the thought police through your IO

Damn, another couple companies to Boycott. (2)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029957)

According to the Chinese engineer, Cisco came through, developing a router device, integrator, and firewall box specially designed for the government's telecom monopoly. At approximately $20,000 a box, China Telecom "bought many thousands" and IBM arranged for the "high-end" financing. Michael confirms: "Cisco made a killing. They are everywhere."

Humm, guess its time to Boycott Cisco and IBM.

David Zhou, a systems engineer manager at Cisco, Beijing, told me flat out, "We don't care about the [Chinese government's] rules. It's none of Cisco's business." I replied that he has a point: It's not the gun but the way it's used...

But this is like selling guns to criminals, wheres the background check?
People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use. - Soren Kierkegaard

So that's how you make money from content.... (2)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029958)

Not by charging people to see it, but by charging the Chinese government so thay can't see it.

Pure genius!

Pay attention to this story (2)

tulare (244053) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029960)

This is scary. Given the propensity of the "law enforcement" community in the US to jump on any excuse to deny human rights while looking for ways to invade privacy, it strikes me that there is very little in place right now to prevent the US government from doing this right now. I'm not normally so paranoid, but it is obvious that near-total central control of the internet is now technically possible (thanks a whole fucking lot, Cisco). The thing to ask is, how do we stop this cancer before it spreads?

hmmm (-1)

bytes256 (519140) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029963)

gotta love capitalism!

Compare to... (2)

jsse (254124) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029967)

Carnivore [] and Magic Lantern [] , Great Firewall of China is just a child-play. Btw, they will eventually catch-up with this(especially in this area).

Unfortunately, the blocks are not the problem. (4, Insightful)

tomshanghai (305217) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029978)

First of all, yes, I can luckily read Slashdot from my office & home here in Beijing. I've been living in different cities in China for two-and-a-half years now & I've seen many (kinds of) blocks come and go.

Sure, is blocked & so is No, & aren't blocked. So yes, I also don't understand the logic behind the specific blocks themselves. What I do understand, however, is that the blocks unfortunately are not the real issue.

The real issue is that the majority of people (in this case, internet users) themselves are not interested to actually access this information. If you have a peek into one of the many internet cafes around, the majority of users are merely playing games.

If they are on the internet, they are always either on Chinese news sites or chatting with each other. If I talk to my colleagues in the office, and ask them why they're not interested in information from a different perspective, they tell me that they simply don't care too much about international opinions. If they do visit international sites they'd rather visit other kinds of sites, mostly of expensive brands like BMW, Gucci & Rolf Benz, just to check out the latest styles. They are also interested in international universities, how to get their MBA & required visas.

Please remember that this applies to the *majority* of users in China. Obviously there is a group of users that is interested in the information, but I believe people on Slashdot are realistic enough to know that if you want to access the information, there is *always* a way.

For those of you in China who want to access CNN, simply go to

Why why why???? (1)

Nesdroc (555646) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029980)

Why should a gov't be able to do that? I know I live in a free place, (though the whole 51% Canadian Content thing is good for some things, not for others) but I find it hard to beleive that SO much censorship is taking place in such a technologically advanced world. BOO TO THAT.

The Net interprets censorship as a business ... (2)

Seth Finkelstein (90154) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029981)

It is exactly as I said, years ago, about the development of censorware [] . If a control system works for American children, then it will work for peasants in China. Inversely, if a control system DOES NOT work for peasants in China, then it will not work for children in America.

You can't have it both ways. Pick one.

Sig: What Happened To The Censorware Project ( []

Not Censored Enough (2, Insightful)

thelizman (304517) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029984)

I have at least 10 Chinese people on my LICQ contact list. I've already turned 5 of them. So what if Beijing contracted Cisco to make a giant firewall. If the only way they could allow access was to put restrictions in place, they still screwed up by allowing access. You can't censor the whole internet, and freedom is contagious. Get this folks: Cisco enabled information acces to 1 billion otherwise oppressed and ignorant people who would have no informational resource outside of what Beijing prints on posters and pastes on walls.

Well, lets be honest. (4, Insightful)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029989)

If anyone out there thinks that the Chinese couldn't have done this on their own, that only Americans can build routers... Well, the seriously need to reevaluate their assumptions.

China could have done this without outside help, China should have free speech. They don't. Not building firewalls for them isn't going to open their society.

Since Mao died, the living standards of the average Chinese person has skyrocketed. Deng Xiao Peng created a lot of reforms, economically (saying "It's not bad, to be rich"), and even in terms of free speech and political expression. After Tiananmen they clamped back down. I don't really know if you can blame them either, if you just lived through the cultural revolution, you would probably be very afraid as well. Mid-century China was a veritable case study in how 'harmless' politics and mass youth movements can cause huge problems.

Maybe Tiananmen was do soon, and the students really blew it. They should have stuck with Op-Ed pages, and built support that way, protesting only set them back, a lot. China today doesn't allow anywhere near the political expression that existed in the 1980s.

But that said, people who's lives are getting better and better every year are not going to really want to revolt.

And keep in mind that democracy and freedom of speech is an exception in all of human history. Maybe someday, but don't think it will happen anytime soon. Happy citizens don't revolt.

is money that important? (2)

hex1848 (182881) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029991)

It really angers me to see US companies aiding and abetting the suppression of human rights. Its always happened, IBM helped the Nazi's catalog the Jews. But this is the 21st century. Freedom should be a top priority along with peace. Capitalism has its place, but when its used to destroy the the freedom of others, its just plain sick.

Is the money that important to these people?

Those "Western Companies" (2)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 12 years ago | (#3029996)

Those "Western Companies" should be ashamed of themselves. When they get oppressed by any government anywhere, I hope that no one helps them.

Land of the Free. Home of the Almightly Dollar. Freedom for them is convenient, but they don't really care about it.

pr0n... (0)

Kubik - The Original (559361) | more than 12 years ago | (#3030004)

Why should we try to eliminate this great and wonderful thing from society? I can remember many a time when I didn't have anything to do, so I just whipped out some videos or streaming media. They will be missing out...

All hail the profit motive (2)

Catbeller (118204) | more than 12 years ago | (#3030005)

Cisco: an example of why corporations should not have the rights of humans.

They have no morals.

Seriously, they sealed a billion people behind a wall. This is... is... sick. There should be no payment sufficient to build such a filthy thing. It's like building the Berlin wall in the '40's, or creating well-designed torture chambers for some hellish country's prison. What greed!!

It's enough to make ya turn communist, I swear.
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