Sunday, August 21, 2005

Great Firewall of China News

A lot has been happening lately with regards to the Great Firewall of China (GFoC). Before I jump into the latest news, allow me to offer a backgrounder for those not familiar with the GFoC. Wikipedia has a good basic explanation (including a link of words blocked by search engines in Mainland China) which is quite good.

As the Wikipedia article notes, the GFoC is not impenetrable. In addition to the methods discussed there, many internet users from the Mainland use the free Anonymouse to get around the firewall (note: the service is down for maintenance until tomorrow).

Many bloggers try to make it hard for the great cybernannies to find them by using replacement characters. Some replacement words include M@o and F---- G---. Additionally, many bloggers will use just about anything to avoid using the T-word (whether it is 1 or 2). Humans can still easily decipher the meanings, but a search for the banned words won't find them. China has a lot of people but hiring people to read every webpage and blog doesn't seem to be all that practical, even to the Chinese government.

In the blogosphere, one of the most common comments on the subject is criticizing the Western companies that facilitate China's censorship. The most often criticized companies include Cisco, Microsoft, and Google. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer offers a cartoon depicting a fairly common perception of internet companies' operations in the mainland. It is captioned "Anything for a Buck."

Now on to highlights of the recent news:
  1. ESWN has the translation of an article in the Nanfang Weekly that offers us "a view from the people inside building and defending the Great Firewall of China."
    A couple excerpts from the article:
    The Ministry of Information Industry explained: "While the Internet brings benefits to people, it also brings problems such as pornography, violence, superstition and other harmful materials to poison people's minds. This is especially likely to damage the healthy development of youngsters."
    Some netizens agreed: "The 'real name' system is needed. The many problems on the Internet are largely due to the system of anonymity. Requiring 'real names' will cause the whole society to become more trustworthy and orderly."
  2. Blog-City is now blocked in the mainland. They are already working on how to work around this problem.

*My previous post on the GFoC can be found here.