After last week’s threat by Google that it would leave China if privacy, security and civil liberty problems weren’t resolved, there has been a lot of investigation into how China treats the Internet. Here are two more stories about the so-called great firewall of China.
New York Times: Scaling the Digital Wall in China
Just as Mongol invaders could not be stopped by the Great Wall, Chinese citizens have found ways to circumvent the sophisticated Internet censorship systems designed to restrict them.
They are using a variety of tools to evade government filters and to reach the wide-open Web that the Chinese government deems dangerous — sites like YouTube, Facebook and, if Google makes good on its threat to withdraw from China, Google.cn.
It’s difficult to say precisely how many people in China engage in acts of digital disobedience. But college students in China and activists around the world say the number has been growing ever since the government stepped up efforts to “cleanse” the Web during the Beijing Olympics and the Communist regime’s 60th anniversary last year.
Los Angeles Times: Despite censorship, cracks widen in China’s Great Firewall
Known as fanqiang, or “scaling the wall,” these work-arounds typically involve tapping into remote servers located outside China that aren’t subject to Chinese government control. Although these skills are largely the province of tech-savvy Chinese bloggers and students, word is spreading fast about how to gain access to taboo sites. […]
Yet the Great Firewall is famously porous. Anyone who wants to evade the restrictions can do so by using a proxy server or a virtual private network, better known as a VPN.
These work by logging the Chinese computer onto a foreign server that’s able to access the Internet freely. When information is bounced back to the computer in China, it’s cloaked in a way to get it past government filters.
The technology has been indispensable to foreign companies operating in China such as banks that need security to conduct their business, which is why Chinese authorities allow it. But a growing number of Chinese appear to be taking advantage as well.