Status of Chinese People

About China and Chinese people's living condition

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  • Books to Read

    1. A China More Just, Gao Zhisheng
    2.Officially Sanctioned Crime in China, He Qinglian
    Will the Boat Sink the Water? Chen Guidi, Wu Chuntao
    Losing the New China, Ethan Gutmann
    Nine Commentaries on The Communist Party, the Epochtimes
  • Did you know

    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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Archive for the ‘Firewall’ Category

Suit Claims Cisco Helped China Pursue Falun Gong

Posted by Author on May 23, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO — Cisco, the maker of Internet routing gear, customized its technology to help China track members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, according to a federal lawsuit filed last week by members of the movement.

The lawsuit, which relies on internal sales materials, also said that Cisco had tried to market its equipment to the Chinese government by using inflammatory language that stemmed from the Maoist Cultural Revolution.

The suit was filed Thursday in Federal District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose by the Human Rights Law Foundation on behalf of members of Falun Gong. It contends that Cisco helped design the controversial “Golden Shield” firewall that is used to censor the Internet and track opponents of the Chinese government. The lawsuit names several Cisco executives, including the chairman and chief executive, John T. Chambers. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Business, censorship, China, Company, Falun Gong, Firewall, Freedom of Information, Human Rights, Internet, Law, News, People, Politics, Religious, Social, Technology, USA, World | Comments Off on Suit Claims Cisco Helped China Pursue Falun Gong

Why the State Department refused to spend the funds to “expand access and information in closed societies” such as Iran and China

Posted by Author on May 3, 2010

By L. GORDON CROVITZ, via The Wall Street Journal, May.2, 2010-

When a government department refuses to spend money that Congress has allocated, there’s usually a telling backstory. This is doubly so when the funds are for a purpose as uncontroversial as making the Internet freer.

So why has the State Department refused to spend $45 million in appropriations since 2008 to “expand access and information in closed societies”? The technology to circumvent national restrictions is being provided by volunteers who believe that with funding they can bring Web access to many more people, from Iran to China.

A bipartisan group in Congress intended to pay for tests aimed at expanding the use of software that brings Internet access to “large numbers of users living in closed societies that have acutely hostile Internet environments.” The most successful of these services is provided by a group called the Global Internet Freedom Consortium, whose programs include Freegate and Ultrasurf.

When Iranian demonstrators last year organized themselves through Twitter posts and brought news of the crackdown to the outside world, they got past the censors chiefly by using Freegate to get access to outside sites.

The team behind these circumvention programs understands how subversive their efforts can be. As Shiyu Zhou, deputy director of the Global Internet Freedom Consortium, told Congress last year, “The Internet censorship firewalls have become 21st-century versions of Berlin Walls that isolate and dispirit the citizens of closed-society dictatorships.”

Repressive governments rightly regard the Internet as an existential threat, giving people powerful ways to communicate and organize. These governments also use the Web as a tool of repression, monitoring emails and other traffic. Recall that Google left China in part because of hacking of human-rights activists’ Gmail accounts.

To counter government monitors and censors, these programs give online users encrypted connections to secure proxy servers around the world. A group of volunteers constantly switches the Internet Protocol addresses of the servers—up to 10,000 times an hour. The group has been active since 2000, and repressive governments haven’t figured out how to catch up. More than one million Iranians used the system last June to post videos and photos showing the government crackdown.

Mr. Zhou tells me his group would use any additional money to add equipment and to hire full-time technical staff to support the volunteers. For $50 million, he estimates the service could accommodate 5% of Chinese Internet users and 10% in other closed societies—triple the current capacity.

So why won’t the State Department fund this group to expand its reach, or at least test how scalable the solution could be? There are a couple of explanations.

The first is that the Global Internet Freedom Consortium was founded by Chinese-American engineers who practice Falun Gong, the spiritual movement suppressed by Beijing. Perhaps not the favorites of U.S. diplomats, but what other group has volunteers engaged enough to keep such a service going? As with the Jewish refuseniks who battled the Soviet Union, sometimes it takes a persecuted minority to stand up to a totalitarian regime.

The second explanation is a split among technologists—between those who support circumvention programs built on proprietary systems and others whose faith is on more open sources of code. A study last year by the Berkman Center at Harvard gave more points to open-source efforts, citing “a well-established contentious debate among software developers about whether secrecy about implementation details is a robust strategy for security.” But whatever the theoretical objections, the proprietary systems work.

Another likely factor is realpolitik. Despite the tough speech Hillary Clinton gave in January supporting Internet freedom, it’s easy to imagine bureaucrats arguing that the U.S. shouldn’t undermine the censorship efforts of Tehran and Beijing. An earlier generation of bureaucrats tried to edit, as overly aggressive, Ronald Reagan’s 1987 speech in Berlin urging Mikhail Gorbachev: “Tear down this wall.”

It’s true that circumvention doesn’t solve every problem. Internet freedom researcher and advocate Rebecca MacKinnon has made the point that “circumvention is never going to be the silver bullet” in the sense that it can only give people access to the open Web. It can’t help with domestic censorship.

During the Cold War, the West expended huge effort to get books, tapes, fax machines, radio reports and other information, as well as the means to convey it, into closed societies. Circumvention is the digital-age equivalent.

If the State Department refuses to support a free Web, perhaps there’s a private solution. An anonymous poster, “chinese.zhang,” suggested on a Google message board earlier this year that the company should fund the Global Internet Freedom Consortium as part of its defense against Chinese censorship. “I think Google can easily offer more servers to help to break down the Great Firewall,” he wrote.

The Wall Street Journal

Posted in Anti-censorship, Asia, China, Firewall, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Speech, GIFC, Human Rights, Internet, News, Opinion, Politics, Social, Software, Speech, Technology, World | Comments Off on Why the State Department refused to spend the funds to “expand access and information in closed societies” such as Iran and China

China censorship works by instilling fear

Posted by Author on April 21, 2010

By Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, Apr. 20, 2010-

In 1972,
comedian George Carlin wrote a monologue titled, “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” When a version of this riff was broadcast the following year on a jazz radio station, it set off a legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ultimately upheld the right of the Federal Communications Commission to regulate indecent material on the airwaves.

Nothing is quite so clear-cut in China, especially when it comes to the murky realm of Internet censorship. China does, of course, have its own version of the dirty words (many, many more than the seven identified by Carlin), but the list itself is confidential.

Trying to figure out what is banned and what is not has taken on new urgency in the aftermath of Google’s withdrawal from China over censorship concerns and the strong stance of the Obama administration on Internet freedom.

In China, each website basically censors itself, so though there are universal taboos — anything about Tibetan independence, for example — you are never quite sure when, shall we say, one of the seven words will hit the fan. Some words can be searched in English, but not in Chinese, or vice versa. What’s sensitive one day might be legit the next.

When using websites based outside China, users on the mainland are often blocked by the so-called Great Firewall of China. But unlike the wall that you can see in satellite photos of Earth, this wall is invisible, often elusive.

The Chinese government doesn’t even call it censorship, the preferred term being “guidance of public opinion.” Chinese Internet users often say that a website has been “harmonized,” a waggish reference to Communist Party slogans about building “harmonious society.”

You don’t always know when you’re being censored — sorry, guided. When searching a sensitive subject, you will be frustrated with a blank screen and a vague error message (“the connection to the server was reset while the page was loading” is the most common) so that you’re never quite sure if you’ve hit the wall or if some technical glitch really did cause the problem.

Often, the user who’s tried to search something blocked won’t be able to get back online for several minutes – the equivalent of a time-out given a naughty child.

There are approximately 80,000 characters in Chinese, and only a few of them are banned outright. But in combination, the innocuous fa, or law, and lun, or wheel, become the banned Falun Gong movement.

Recently, the word for carrot (huluobo) was blocked on some sites because its first character resembles the family name of President Hu Jintao. Similarly, wendu, temperature, was blocked for its resemblance to Premier Wen Jiabao as was xuexi, or study, which shares a character with China’s vice president, Xi Jinping, a likely heir to Hu.

In fact, the scariest thing about Chinese censorship is that there is no list of dirty words — leaving media and Web personnel always nervous about how far they can go.

“There are explicit bad words, but the system really works by instilling fear,” said David Bandurski, a scholar at the China Media Project, based at the University of Hong Kong, who in 2008 was commissioned to write a satirical piece in homage to Carlin about China’s dirty words. (“This word ‘democracy’ is a perilous word that must be handled with great care,” was part of his riff.)

“The paranoia,” Bandurski said, “is more effective than blocking certain words.”

Los Angeles Times

Posted in Business, censorship, China, Company, Firewall, Freedom of Information, Human Rights, Internet, Life, News, Politics, Social, Speech, Technology, website, World | Comments Off on China censorship works by instilling fear

Millions in China Have No Antivirus Software, Survey Shows

Posted by Author on March 31, 2010

By Owen Fletcher, IDG News Service, via PC World, Mar. 31, 2010-

The massive number of Chinese Internet users running no antivirus software increased last year, a survey showed, even though online security risks continued to multiply in the country.

The percentage of Internet users in China with no security software was 4.4 percent last year, up from 3.9 percent the previous year, according to survey results released late Tuesday by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) and China’s National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team (CNCERT).

CNNIC estimates that 384 million people in China used the Internet in the second half of last year. By that calculation, the number of people in the country surfing the Internet with no antivirus software was nearly 17 million, representing a huge pool of PCs that attackers could easily infect and use for malicious ends.

Other results from the survey also showed the size of online security problems in China. For instance, nearly half of Chinese Internet users own virtual property, such as items in an online game or virtual coins for use on a social-networking site, according to the survey. Among those people, 14.6 percent said they had experienced some loss of that property due to theft of login credentials……. (more details from The PC World)

Posted in China, Computer, Firewall, Internet, Internet User, Life, News, People, Software, Technology, World | Comments Off on Millions in China Have No Antivirus Software, Survey Shows

Mainland Chinese Develop New Anti-Censorship Software Tool to penetrate the Great Firewall of China

Posted by Author on March 14, 2010

The first anti-censorship software developed inside China, the Xi Xiang project, has recently been released online to penetrate the regime-sponsored Internet surveillance tools, the Great Firewall of China (GFW).

Striving to gain freedom of information on the Internet, a group of anonymous computer specialists started the Xi Xiang project in July 2008, according to the GFW Technical Comments blog. They spent a great deal of effort to reverse-engineer the GFW and released the products to the public, on the blog, on March 10.

The technical documents claim that the software enables users to easily bypass the GFW to directly visit blocked Web sites such as Youtube and Twitter.

The developers named the project after the famous 13th century play “Xi Xiang Ji,” known in English as “Romance of the West Chamber” in reference to the young scholar Zhang, who climbed over a wall to have secret meetings with his lover.

After studying the software, Dong Xiaoxing, a computer network expert, told Radio Free Asia that the Xi Xiang tools take advantage of the RST packets that are ignored by the GFW. Dong believes the blocking and anti-blocking war will be ongoing, and the software will be widely spread in the Chinese Internet communities.

According to those who have researched the GFW, it is a very resource-intensive system. It detects and blocks Internet access to any Web sites with unwanted contents, utilizing a combination of technologies, such as basic traffic analysis, DNS filtering and redirection, and keyword filtering. The Chinese regime invested heavily in the complex system, making it very difficult to be bypassed.

However, the GFW is not without vulnerabilities, according to the Xi Xiang developers. They provide a set of tools to perform a one-time configuration on users’ computers to avoid the GFW’s detection mechanisms so that users can connect to the target Web sites directly. The preliminary test successfully connected users to the blocked Web sites such as Youtube.

Shi Zhao, the director of the Chinese Wikipedia said: “Unlike other anti-censorship products that use proxy servers hosted overseas as intermediary connection points, the Xi Xiang tools can connect users directly to the blocked Web sites. It’s mainly useful for the keywords filtering.” Due to the technical limitations of the GFW, Shi believed it would take a while for the GFW to contain Xi Xiang.

A Chinese blogger commented: “The Xi Xiang project is the most exciting product I’ve seen in the past two years. I’ll pay close attention to it.” Another Internet user said the software marks the end of the cat-and-mouse game between anti-censorship software and GFW, and the beginning of a new era of anti-censorship software actively attacking the GFW.

Guo Weidong, a well-known blogger said: “When the Internet users find out the information they get has been filtered and distorted, they will start looking for the truth. The desire to search for the truth, free thinking, and free expression can never be blocked by the GFW.” (the Epochtimes)

Posted in break net-block, censorship, China, Firewall, Freedom of Information, Human Rights, Internet, Internet User, News, People, Software, Technology, World | Comments Off on Mainland Chinese Develop New Anti-Censorship Software Tool to penetrate the Great Firewall of China

The High-Tech Persecution of Falun Gong in China (3)

Posted by Author on February 28, 2010

Global Internet Freedom Consortium – (cont’d)

<< previous

The targets of this project (the Golden Shield Project) are Chinese dissidents, and in particular, practitioners of Falun Gong. As one expert put it, when presented with Internet censorship technology, the “first question from the Chinese buyers was not ‘Will it make my workers more productive?’ but, invariably, ‘Can it stop Falun Gong?’”[8]

In 2000, China had a public security trade show in Beijing, where corporations from around the world gathered to sell products for sale to the Chinese government. An engineer from one company said that Internet surveillance capabilities were specifically designed “to catch Falun Gong.”[9] Another company’s booth contained literature declaring that its technology could help in “strengthening police control” and “increasing social stability.”[10]

Moreover, according to Hao Fengjun, who worked for the secret police in the so-called Office 610, in the northern city of Tianjin until he fled China in 2005, Office 610 used the Golden Shield network specifically to track members of the Falun Gong religion.[11] Thus, as Naomi Kline noted in her Rolling Stone article, even if the tools were the same, an assertion that is not necessarily supported by the evidence, “the political contexts are radically different. China has a government that uses its high-tech web to imprison and torture peaceful protestors, Tibetan monks and independent-minded journalists.”[12]

In addition, insider corporate documents indicate that one of the stated central purposes of the Golden Shield Project was to “persecute ‘Falun Gong’ evil cult and other hostile elements.”[13] The Chinese term translated as “persecute” in this and other corporate documents is the very same term used by the Party to describe the persecution of the landlord class, the intellectuals, and the pro-democracy advocates in China, i.e., douzheng [斗争]. Regardless of the role of US corporations in the design and implementation of the Golden Shield, an issue that is now being investigated further by the Human Rights Law Foundation, it is clear from a second document that was sent anonymously to HRLF that at least one Cisco corporate design of the Golden Shield included a Falun Gong database.

The Human Rights Law Foundation has received an enormous array of information in support of these and other allegations from credible sources. It is investigating all of the evidence carefully. Based on all of the new information, it is contemplating the filing of a lawsuit to hold accountable some of the key parties responsible for the high-tech persecution of Falun Gong.(to be cont’d)

From Global Internet Freedom Consortium

The High-Tech Persecution of Falun Gong in China (1)
The High-Tech Persecution of Falun Gong in China (2)

Posted in censorship, China, Falun Gong, Firewall, Freedom of Information, Human Rights, Internet, News, Politics, Social, Software, Technology, website, World | Comments Off on The High-Tech Persecution of Falun Gong in China (3)

China Censorship Equals Protectionism, Maybe Violates WTO Obligations

Posted by Author on January 8, 2010

By FREDRIK ERIXON AND HOSUK LEE-MAKIYAMA, Via Wall Street Journal, Jan. 6, 2009-

Beijing’s methods to censor the Internet are becoming ever more repressive. In recent weeks, at least 700 Web sites seem to have been shut down or blocked—on top of tens of thousands of foreign online services that already were inaccessible. Individuals have been banned from registering new domain names in China, and authorities are turning the heat up on existing domains. This is correctly viewed as a major free-speech problem, but that’s only part of the damage Beijing is doing. Blocking the Internet blocks commerce and trade, and China’s latest moves may well run afoul of its World Trade Organization commitments.

China has the highest number of online users in the world with 300 million, surpassing even the United States. That makes it among the most appealing markets for foreign technology companies. The new censorship drive fences off this market and reserves it only for government-registered actors that are politically reliable in the eyes of Beijing. The regulations apply just as much to Web sites outside China, which must now apply for a license from Chinese authorities to avoid being blocked.

This is the latest and most vigorous manifestation of an old phenomenon. For more than a decade, the so-called Great Firewall of China has restricted access to many common media sites and online services from abroad, especially search engines and user-generated content such as blogs, Twitter, YouTube or photo-sharing site Flickr. Now, though, it’s reaching a point where the measures are attacking core business and revenues. Several international Web sites—like the Chinese and English versions of search engines Google and Bing, or email service providers Gmail and Hotmail—have been shut down by the authorities without much warning.

Beyond Web censorship, regulatory hurdles on technology are an increasing problem throughout China’s economy. The importation of WiFi-equipped phones, routers and laptops capable of wirelessly surfing the Internet is forbidden; they feature encryption technologies that make eavesdropping more difficult for the authorities. Partly for this reason, Apple’s iPhone came to China only in November, two years after it hit the rest of the world, and then without its signature WiFi capability.

Mobile applications are now also subject to censorship; for instance, China Mobile has stopped all sales of paid content until further notice. This is a market already worth 200 million yuan ($29 million) and should be steadily growing as smart phones like the iPhone and Blackberry start to gain traction. Meanwhile, Beijing attempted last July to force all manufacturers to install filtering software and a potential spyware program called Green Dam Youth Escort on computers shipped to China. This ostensibly was to block access to pornography, but could have made it easier for authorities to track politically sensitive communications, too. That proposal was withdrawn but is soon likely to resurface.

Political censorship is the most obvious motive underpinning all these actions, but there is another: Online censorship has become a tool of industrial policy, effectively discriminating against foreign suppliers. The Chinese search engine Baidu has been untouched by the recent crackdown, despite producing similar search results to the blocked Google and Bing Web sites. There also have been reports that users entering Google’s address in their browsers have been automatically rerouted to Baidu. Licensing requirements for Web sites help Beijing control the market share of companies like smaller private-sector travel agents or Internet-telephony companies like Skype that compete with larger Chinese companies with strong relationships to Beijing.

While human-rights activists continue pushing Beijing to ease its restrictions on free-speech rights, foreign governments also need to recognize the protectionist aspects of Chinese Web censorship and respond accordingly. China’s online protectionism goes against its obligations under the WTO. When China acceded to the trade body in 2001, it agreed to give unlimited access and equal treatment to foreign-based or foreign-owned businesses in many categories of services, including online services. These services count as imports to which China is supposed to be opening itself, even if they are delivered over a wire instead of in a shipping crate.

While the WTO agreements allow countries to set their own standard for public morals and order, disguised protectionist measures are forbidden. Nor can China argue that it is using the measures that restrict trade the least, one standard for acceptability under the WTO. The Appellate Body, which is the final authority of WTO dispute settlement, has just turned down an appeal by China in a dispute over its restrictions on the distribution of U.S. printed books, films and music; Beijing is now forced to either open that market or face retaliatory tariffs.

If China does not change its Internet censorship practices, it is likely to soon face another WTO dispute. The online market in China is simply too big for Europe and the U.S. to let trade-distorting regulations pass without action. Victories at the WTO on this front would be wins both for commerce and for civil rights.

Messrs. Erixon and Lee-Makiyama are director and visiting fellow, respectively, of the European Centre for International Political Economy in Brussels.

Wall Street Journal

Posted in Business, censorship, China, Economy, Firewall, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Internet, Media, News, Opinion, Politics, Technology, Trade, World | 2 Comments »

Citizen Lab uses forensics to fight online censors in China and other 70 countries

Posted by Author on November 2, 2009

By Robert Mahoney/Deputy Director, Committee to Protect Journalists, Nov. 2, 2009 –

A basement in the gray, Gothic heart of the University of Toronto is home to the CSI of cyberspace. “We are doing free expression forensics,” says Ronald Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab, based at the Munk Centre for International Studies. Deibert and his team of academics and students investigate in real time governments and companies that restrict what we see and hear on the Internet. They are also trying to help online journalists and bloggers slip the shackles of censorship and surveillance. Deibert is a co-founder of the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), a project of the Citizen Lab in collaboration with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. ONI tracks the blocking and filtering of the Internet around the globe.

“We are testing in 71 countries,” says Deibert, who shares his data with Berkman. “We are testing all the time. We are the technical hub of ONI.”

“We started out in 2002 with China,” said Jillian York, project coordinator for Berkman. “The work evolved, and then with Cuba we cracked it.” By 2006, ONI had expanded its dragnet for blocked or filtered content to more than 40 countries. However, as Citizen Lab and Berkman gained expertise and resources so did the censors they battled.

“We are now onto third-generation controls,” York said of Internet censorship. “The first generation was simple filtering, IP blocking in China, for example.” The second generation was surveillance, which ranged from placing spies or closed-circuit cameras in Internet cafés to installing tracking software on computers themselves. “The third generation controls combine all the above. We see it in China, Syria, and Burma. It’s a very broad approach,” York laments……. (more from CPJ)

Posted in censorship, China, Firewall, Freedom of Information, Human Rights, Internet, Media, News, Technology, World | Comments Off on Citizen Lab uses forensics to fight online censors in China and other 70 countries

China’s losing fight with freedom

Posted by Author on September 23, 2009

by Mona Zhang, NYU News, Published September 22, 2009-

The Chinese government has been trying to play Big Brother to its 1.3 billion citizens ever since the creation of the internet. In 2006, the Golden Shield Project (aka The Great Firewall of China) was completed and came under scrutiny as the world turned its eyes to China for the 2008 Olympics. This year called for the implementation of the Green Dam, a project that was put on hold after worldwide criticism. The project originally decreed that all PCs and new software must include an internet filtering system, aimed at protecting the nation’s youth from pornographic sites.

In actuality, the Chinese government might is using the system as an Orwellian tool to monitor individual activity, and block access to information on politically sensitive issues, such as Falun Gong or the 1989 Tiananmen uprising. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that not only does the program block information the government deems “sensitive,” it has major security problems that put the user in the way of hackers and malicious software.

With the Green Dam project under fire and the Muslim Uighur uprisings also drawing international attention, the Chinese government — trying not to “lose face” over this issue — has decided to release the system as a voluntary addition.

But when will they realize that these measures don’t work? In our flourishing virtual world, China’s feeble attempts at information control only result in unwanted attention and so-called “netizen” uprisings. At the moment, China’s internet censorship system is sort of like that elusive cockroach you’ve seen lurking around the hallways of your dorm. It’s an annoyance that doesn’t inhibit you from going about your daily activities, but your dislike for it grows as you cautiously tip-toe to the basement to do your laundry……. (more from NYU News)

Posted in censorship, China, Firewall, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Internet, News, Politics, Technology, World | Comments Off on China’s losing fight with freedom

More bricks in the wall: China’s Censorship

Posted by Author on July 13, 2009

Editorial, Japan Times, July 13, 2009-

Facing opposition from Chinese citizens and foreign governments, Beijing has postponed a plan to reinforce the “Great Firewall of China.” These efforts, ostensibly to protect against pornography, look more like a new campaign to crack down on dissent. One way to protest them is to demand that China respect its international trade obligations. While such a premise lacks the moral force of past appeals to human rights commitments, it may prove more effective.

The Beijing government has long sought to control citizens’ access to information. That challenge has become more difficult when any individual with a computer (or mobile phone) can access the Internet. Chinese companies have been developed to compete with foreign online search engines and network entities like Yahoo! and Google, both to promote national champions as well as to ensure that Beijing has more say over their policies and practices. The prospect of losing business — a potential market of hundreds of millions of consumers — helps bend foreign companies to the Chinese government’s will.

The temporarily shelved plan would have had filters built into Internet servers and search engines in China that block access to Web sites or terms that Beijing deems sensitive. Trying to get information about “Falun Gong,” for example, would have been fruitless. Web sites like YouTube are routinely cut off. Chinese Net users have even lost access to iTunes, Apple Computer’s popular music Web site, because of concerns over lyrics.

Such crude censorship is hard to justify, so the Chinese government has sought more acceptable rationales. In recent weeks Beijing has launched a new effort to control what users can see while surfing the Internet. In May, it ordered that all new computers sold in China after July 1 have the filtering software called “Green Dam Youth Escort.” It was intended to prevent children from accessing pornography or other harmful content.

On June 25 the Chinese Health Ministry announced that it would restrict access to medical research papers on sexual subjects as part of the same campaign. At the same time, Google has been forced to disable a function that lets it suggest search terms, again, in the name of fighting pornography……. (more details from Japan Times)

Posted in censorship, China, Firewall, Freedom of Information, Human Rights, Internet, News, Politics, Software, Technology, website, World | Comments Off on More bricks in the wall: China’s Censorship

Editorial: The US congress can help fend off authoritarian censorship in Burma, Iran and China

Posted by Author on July 7, 2009

Editorials, The Washington Post, July 7, 2009 –

FROM TWITTERERS in Tehran to bloggers in Burma, citizens living under authoritarian regimes depend upon free access to the Internet for information, coordination and the ability to make themselves heard. That’s why oppressive governments devote so much effort to online censorship: They, too, recognize the power of information to promote freedom. But some independent groups are pushing back against their control.

The indelible images and powerful stories that have emerged from Iran in recent weeks have been made possible by the efforts of a few volunteer experts running a makeshift system of patchwork servers. The Global Internet Freedom Consortium, a small, non-governmental organization, provides access to almost 1 million users daily and, according to recent statistics, to more than 90 percent of anti-censorship traffic from China and Iran. Its software allows users to evade online censors by connecting to a remote server that switches IP addresses nearly once a second to avoid being traced. But increased demand for the Internet amid recent turmoil has been overloading the consortium’s servers just when access is most needed. For the peaceful online revolution to continue, congressional support is necessary.

Before the Senate Appropriations Committee is a bill that could provide access to 100 million distinct users every day. Dedicating $50 million in the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill to Internet freedom could allow millions who live in autocratic societies access to the Internet. Internet freedom has long been a stated congressional priority — the 2008 appropriations bill included a commitment to provide “anti-censorship tools and services for the advancement of information freedom in closed societies.” Now is the time for Congress to put its money behind its words.

For every dollar the United States spends to guarantee access, oppressive regimes must spend thousands to put up walls and barriers. Once enough there are enough holes in a firewall, it crumbles. The technology for this exists. What is needed is more capacity.

The Washington Post

Posted in all Hot Topic, Anti-censorship, break net-block, China, Commentary, Firewall, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Speech, GIFC, Human Rights, Internet, News, Opinion, Social, Software, Technology, website, World | Comments Off on Editorial: The US congress can help fend off authoritarian censorship in Burma, Iran and China

China delays launch of internet filter Green Dam

Posted by Author on June 30, 2009

Jonathan Watts and Tania Branigan in Beijing,, Tuesday 30 June 2009 –

In a last-minute climbdown, the Chinese government announced today that it will delay the launch of censorship software that was supposed to have been sold in every computer from tomorrow.

The postponement comes after an unprecedented wave of online opposition, protests by foreign governments and calls by prominent bloggers for Chinese netizens to climb, attack and demonstrate against the “great firewall”.

Xinhua, the state news agency, reported the change of plan four hours before the software launch was due.

“China will delay the mandatory installation of the ‘Green Dam-Youth Escort’ filtering software on new computers,” it said in a terse statement attributed to the ministry of industry and information technology.

The authorities looked likely to miss their deadline for the rollout of the software that blocks pornographic, violent and politically sensitive content.

The Guardian struggled to find a single retailer who had Green Dam either installed or bundled with computers.

Adding to the mystery, Lenovo, Sony, Dell and Hewlett Packard refused to comment on whether their PCs are now being shipped with the software, as the government ordered them to do last month.

The government says the software is necessary to clear the Chinese web of “harmful content”. But critics say it is a misguided attempt to put the internet genie back in the bottle by a Communist party that now has to answer to about 300 million web users.

“Green Dam is a mini-great firewall placed inside every personal computer,” said Michael Anti, an influential blogger. “The real logic behind it is that China is a big kindergarten in which even adults are treated as children that need to be ‘protected’.”

Isaac Mao, a prominent internet commentator, believes the government has made a big mistake: “I think this is the tipping point between the people rising up and those in power trying to suppress them. The great firewall is overloaded and that is why the authorities are trying to move the focus of control to the desktop. But it has annoyed a lot of people. Not just liberals who want free speech but the young who see it as an intrusion into their personal lives.”

Although the plan has at least temporarily failed, it succeeded in mobilising people against the censors. Wen Yuchao, a journalist and blogger who goes by the online name North Wind, said more than 1,000 netizens have signed up to his campaign to “climb” the firewall by signing up to proxy servers that bypass the government’s controls. He said 15,000 people are joining TOR ‑ one of the most popular proxies ‑ every day, about double the normal rate. Freegate, a proxy that was developed by Falun Gong, has also reported a sharp rise in demand.

Ai Weiwei, a prominent artist and freedom of expression champion, called for an internet boycott tomorrow.

“Thousands of netizens have said they will join the boycott. People are starting to realise how important it is to tell the government what they want,” said Ai. “There is nothing the authorities can do [to stop us]. That is what is great about this. It is personal but widespread.”…… (more from The Guardian)

Posted in China, Firewall, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Internet, Internet User, Law, News, Politics, Software, Speech, Technology, World | Comments Off on China delays launch of internet filter Green Dam

Software to Blast Through China’s ‘Green Dam’ Set to be Released

Posted by Author on June 14, 2009

Epoch Times Staff,  Jun 14, 2009  –

New software, expected to be released Monday, will disable or remove China’s latest computer controlling software, “Green Dam-Youth Escort,” from users’ computers.

The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has ordered that all computers purchased in China after July 1 have Green Dam pre-installed.

While the regime claims Green Dam will mainly block pornography, filter illicit content and check browsing records, research done in the U.S. indicates that the software has multiple controlling and tracking devices including blocking sensitive Web sites and software used to evade China’s Great Firewall, taking screenshots every three minutes, and recording passwords.

Because of tight control of the Internet, the new software that disables Green Dam will have to be distributed person-to-person, said Bill Xia, CEO of Dynamic Internet Technology Inc., the U.S.-based anti-censorship company that developed the new software.

“First, we will reach out to all our current users of our anti-censorship tools,” Xia said. “From one million of our users, if everyday, they send it to 10 of their friends then quickly it’s going to get to everyone.”

“It’s a new area the regime extends to,” said Xia. “So now they have access to all the information on personal computers.”

Green Dam threatens to give the Chinese regime unprecedented control over the Internet. The software especially targets “Falun Gong” and the Epoch Times editorial series “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party,” in addition to pornography.

“Chinese people are very angry about it,” said Xia. The software will scare people into self-censorship, he said. “Without doing anything, they will have software sitting on their computer saying ‘we are watching everything.’”

Xia said U.S. companies Dell and Hewlett Packard have been asked by the regime to have Green Dam pre-installed on all computers made in the U.S. and sent to China. “I think this is a big insult to the human rights values in the free world,” he said.

“Green Dam-Youth Escort” was developed by Jinhui Computer Systems Inc. and Dazheng Language Process Inc., with the former in charge of image filtration and the later keyword filtration. In 2005, Dazheng was involved in the development of a “secret files intercept system” for the Chinese army. According to its Web site, Jinhui has worked with both the Chinese army and the public security ministry.

Epoch Times

Posted in break net-block, censorship, China, Firewall, Freedom of Information, Human Rights, Internet, News, People, Politics, Software, Technology, World | Comments Off on Software to Blast Through China’s ‘Green Dam’ Set to be Released

China Channel– Firefox add-on help you experience Internet censorship

Posted by Author on November 1, 2008, Romania, Oct. 31, 2008-

Chine is well-known for its censorship of web content, something that western users would find rather hard to imagine. But imagination is no longer required with the latest Firefox add-on: China Channel

Its description reads the following:

“The Firefox add-on China Channel offers internet user outside China to surf the web as if they were in China. Take an unforgetable virtual trip to China and experience the technical expertise of the Chinese Ministry of Information Industry (supported by western companies). It’s open source, free and easy.”

The add-on was developed by Aram Bartholl, Even Roth, and Tobias Leingruber. Basically, it’s based on the SwitchProxy Tool add-on, which allows the browser to connect to various Internet proxies inside China. Thus, the user gets a Chinese IP and therefore is the subject of the Chinese censorship

The add-on is here. Simply install it and then try to search for dirty words like democracy, freedom and Tiananmen square. The authors guarantee that they have been mopped out of the web by the Chinese censorship. However, they don’t guarantee you being taken in custody by the Chinese police for searching for such words. I guess every piece of software has its flaws.

Posted in censorship, China, Firewall, Freedom of Information, Human Rights, Internet, News, Politics, Technology, World | Comments Off on China Channel– Firefox add-on help you experience Internet censorship

China ‘spying on Skype messages’– 150,000 messages in surveillance system: report

Posted by Author on October 3, 2008

BBC News, Oct. 3, 2008-

China has been monitoring and censoring messages sent through the internet service Skype, researchers say.

Citizen Lab, a Canadian research group, says it found a database containing thousands of politically sensitive words which had been blocked by China.

The publically available database also displayed personal data on subscribers.

Skype said it had always been open about the filtering of data by Chinese partners, but that it was concerned by breaches in the security of the site.

Citizen Lab researchers, based at the University of Toronto, said they discovered a huge surveillance system which had picked up and stored messages sent through the online telephone and text messaging service.

The database held more than 150,000 messages which included words such as “democracy” and “Tibet” and phrases relating to the banned spiritual movement, Falun Gong.

“These text messages, along with millions of records containing personal information, are stored on insecure publicly accessible web servers,” said Citizen Lab’s report, entitled “Breaching Trust”.

They said that by using one username, it was possible to identify all the people who had sent messages to or received them from the original user.

‘Meeting laws’

Skype is operated in China as Tom-Skype, a joint venture involving the American auction site, eBay and Chinese company TOM-Online.

Citizen Lab said it was “clear” that Tom was “engaging in extensive surveillance with seemingly little regard for the security and privacy of Skype users”.

They asked to what extent Tom Online and Skype were co-operating with the Chinese government in monitoring communications.

But Skype president Josh Silverman said China’s monitoring was “common knowledge” and that Tom Online, had “established procedures to meet local laws and regulations”.

“These regulations include the requirement to monitor and block instant messages containing certain words deemed offensive by the Chinese authorities,” he said.

Mr Silverman said that it had been Tom Online’s policy to block certain messages and then delete them and he would be investigating why the policy had changed to allow the company to upload and store those messages.

Although internet use is high in China, the authorities have long prevented citizens from accessing websites which are considered politically sensitive.

Western internet companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have been criticised by human-rights groups for adhering to China’s strict regulations.

– BBC News: China ‘spying on Skype messages’

Posted in censorship, chat, China, Firewall, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Internet, Law, News, Politics, Social, Technology, World | 1 Comment »

IOC Allows China To Limit Reporters’ Access to Internet

Posted by Author on August 1, 2008

By Edward Cody, Washington Post Foreign Service, USA, Thursday, July 31, 2008-

BEIJING, July 30 — The International Olympic Committee and the Chinese government acknowledged Wednesday that reporters covering the Olympics will be blocked from accessing Internet sites that Chinese authorities consider politically sensitive.

The avowed censorship, although standard procedure for China’s millions of Internet users, contradicted pledges made earlier by IOC and Chinese officials that the estimated 20,000 journalists and technicians due in Beijing next week for the Olympic Games would have unfettered Web access. It was the latest in a series of steps taken by Chinese authorities reneging on promises they made seven years ago, when Beijing was granted the Games, to allow free reporting during the Olympics.

In response, the Paris-based advocacy group Reporters Without Borders issued a guide on how to use proxy servers to get around China’s censorship. The Web-based guide also advised reporters covering the Games, which begin Aug. 8, that their telephone calls and e-mails are liable to be monitored by Chinese security agencies.

The guide itself was blocked by China, which employs an extensive array of monitoring software to comb through whatever people call up on their screens and block sites that China’s security or propaganda officials consider unacceptable. Sites run by Amnesty International, the human rights group; Falun Gong, the spiritual movement; Tibet independence sympathizers; and a host of other human rights groups hostile to aspects of China’s Communist Party rule have been targeted by the censorship equipment, which is backed up by an estimated 30,000 monitors employed by the Public Security Bureau.

Kevan Gosper, an IOC official with responsibilities for media relations, told reporters in Beijing that Olympic officials had negotiated with the Chinese government an accord under which China’s censors would continue blocking politically sensitive sites for reporters covering the Games. The pledge of unrestricted access applied only to sites related to the Olympic competitions, he explained.

Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, said at a news conference that Chinese authorities would do their best to make sure reporters could cover the Games without hindrance, despite the censorship. He suggested the banned topics were not part of the athletic events and should not be of interest to reporters anyway.

Journalists at the Main Press Center, which is to house up to 5,000 reporters, raised their complaints after discovering they could not call up an Amnesty International report issued Monday criticizing China’s human rights record leading up to the Games. They also could not access Falun Gong sites without going through a proxy server and said the overall speed of the Internet at the press center seemed to be way below par.

At the Beijing International Media Center, reporters could access Wikipedia’s home page but could not search the site. Major global news sites were available, but the British Broadcasting Corp.’s Chinese-language site was blocked.

Because of China’s extensive filtering system, which responds to a long list of key words maintained by the Public Security Bureau, the Internet here has long been painfully slow, particularly in areas where monitoring is heavy.

Dennis Wilder, the White House’s Asian affairs director, told reporters in Washington he was “disappointed that they clamped down on the Internet” in China.

“There have been questions about the access to the Internet and other issues at the Olympic centers,” he said. “We think the Chinese government needs to heed those concerns, that if China is going to demonstrate it is truly moving forward as a modern society, this is part of it.”

Amnesty International charged that the censorship violated China’s earlier commitments and went against the grain of the Olympics.

“The International Olympic Committee and the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games should fulfill their commitment to full media freedom and provide immediate uncensored Internet access at Olympic media venues,” said Mark Allison, the group’s East Asia researcher. “Censorship of the Internet at the Games is compromising fundamental human rights and betraying the Olympic values.”

– Original: IOC Allows China To Limit Reporters’ Access to Internet, Washington Post

Posted in Beijing, Beijing Olympics, censorship, China, Firewall, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Internet, News, Politics, Social, Speech, Sports, website, World | 1 Comment »

Cisco Appeares Willing to Assist China Internet Censorship, Its Internal File Shows

Posted by Author on May 21, 2008

By Glenn Kessler, Washington Post Staff Writer, U.S, Tuesday, May 20, 2008-

Cisco Systems, seeking to penetrate the Chinese market, prepared an internal marketing presentation in which it appeared to be willing to assist the Chinese Ministry of Public Security in its goal of “combating Falun Gong evil cult and other hostile elements,” according to a translation of a document obtained by congressional investigators.

The Cisco presentation will take center stage today at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Global Internet Freedom Act, which aims to defeat Internet censorship. The Washington Post obtained a copy of the presentation, the authenticity of which was confirmed by Cisco.

Falun Gong is a spiritual movement that has been harshly repressed by the Chinese government, which claims the group is engaged in illegal activities.

In its PowerPoint presentation, Cisco referred to the Chinese government’s project to control the Internet, including its use by groups such as Falun Gong. After a slide referencing the crackdown on Falun Gong, the next slide proclaims: “Cisco Opportunity: High start-point planning, High standard construction, Technical training, Security and operation maintenance.”

A Cisco spokeswoman said the document was six years old and was intended only for internal use by Cisco’s Chinese employees, not as a marketing tool to entice business from the Chinese government. “The inclusion of the statement was not appropriate,” said Jennifer Greeson Dunn. “It was simply a restatement of the government’s objectives. It has nothing to do with Cisco’s objectivity and Cisco’s technologies. We are very much for freedom of expression.”

Still, Cisco has sold the Chinese Ministry of Public Security what Greeson Dunn called “generic routing and switching technologies” designed to make the communications infrastructure more efficient. She said Cisco has not sold any equipment meant to “identify dissidents or hostile elements.”

Mark Chandler, senior vice president and general counsel for Cisco, will testify at the hearing held by the human rights subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as will Google and Yahoo executives. Lawmakers will seek to determine whether Cisco is just selling off-the-shelf technology or is helping China apply that technology to control dissent.

A committee staff member, speaking on condition of anonymity because the hearing had not yet been held, said that despite Cisco’s claims of innocence, the presentation “raises troubling questions about what they are doing.” He noted that Cisco, which provides the hardware that governments such as China use for firewalls and surveillance systems, has regularly assured lawmakers that it does not know how its products are used and does not market products for censorship. Now, he said, “we don’t know what the truth is.”

The House Foreign Affairs Committee has passed the Global Online Freedom Act to curtail the ability of U.S. companies to help foreign governments censor the Internet. The bill, which has been endorsed by many human rights groups and is squarely aimed at China as host of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, makes it a crime for U.S. companies to turn over personal information on their users if the government intends to repress the citizens. But opponents criticize the legislation as taking a simplistic approach to a complex international issue, putting private companies in the middle of a dispute between governments.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who is chairing the hearing, has not endorsed the House legislation but is seeking more information for possibly proposing his own legislation.

– Original from The Washington Post: Cisco File Raises Censorship Concerns

Posted in Business, censorship, China, Company, Dissident, Economy, Firewall, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Internet, Law, News, People, Politics, Social, Technology, Trade, USA, World | Comments Off on Cisco Appeares Willing to Assist China Internet Censorship, Its Internal File Shows

Rights Organizations’ Report Censored by China Hours After Issued, Leaked Directive Shows

Posted by Author on February 5, 2008

Reporters Without Borders, 1 February 2008-

Reporters Without Borders and Chinese Human Rights Defenders have obtained a copy of a directive issued by the authorities responsible for Internet censorship in an attempt to prevent online circulation of the report “Journey to the Heart of Internet censorship (,” which the two organisations issued on 10 October 2007.

“We condemn the censorship of any information that aims to increase awareness of the real situation of the Internet in China,” the two organisations said. “The rights of Chinese Internet users are systematically violated by the government, although we are now only six months away from the Olympic Games.”

Just hours after the report was issued, Yang Le, the head of the Beijing Information Office, which is in charge of Internet control, circulated an order to websites and ISPs asking them to update their lists of banned key-words. The new banned key-words, mostly relating to the Internet, were used throughout the Reporters Without Borders report.

The name of the report’s author, a “Mr. Tao,” who is a Beijing website technician, was also included in the new banned word-strings, as were “Reporters Without Borders” and “Chinese Human Rights Defenders,” whose websites are inaccessible in China. This is the text of the directive issued by the Beijing Information Office:

“Urgent: Search engines must abort searches for certain key-words. This must take effect at 10:30.” The directive listed these key-words:

– “render transparent the workings of the Chinese Internet control system”
– “render transparent the workings of the Internet control system”
– “the workings of the Chinese Internet control system”
– “Chinese Internet control”
– “Chinese Internet control system”
– “how the Internet control system works”
– “Tao Xici”
– “control of the Tao Xici network”
– “Tao Xici’s China”
– “Reporters Without Borders”
– “Chinese Human Rights Defender Network”
– “reinforcement of Beijing’s control bodies”
– “self-censorship” and “increase censorship”
– “Century China”
– “Aiqinhai website”
– “technological process of Internet control in mainland China”
– “network management bodies and online media”
– “eviction of Tang Yan and Liu Xianghui”
– “adoption / registering / Internet administration”
– “Internet network”
– “key-words”
– “define unauthorised media”
– “not reveal instructions”
– “infiltration of Internet users and banning of key-words”
– “control of the Chinese Internet network”
– “pursuit of procedures for purging the Internet”
– “searches aimed at suppressing website content”
– “not reveal instructions after purging the network”
– “disseminate instructions”

Original report from Reporters Without Borders:
How cyber-censors blocked dissemination of report on Internet censorship

Posted in censorship, China, Firewall, Freedom of Information, Human Rights, Internet, News, Politics, Press freedom, search engine, Social, Technology, website, World | Comments Off on Rights Organizations’ Report Censored by China Hours After Issued, Leaked Directive Shows

China’s Golden Cyber-Shield : The Great Firewall

Posted by Author on August 1, 2007

by Andy Greenberg,, 07.31.2007-

The Chinese government is an infamous enforcer of digital apartheid; when its citizens try to access prominent international Web sites like Wikipedia and Flickr, they hit a filter that blocks politically sensitive material. In the West, that information blockade is often described as the “Great Firewall of China.”

But in Mandarin, it is called jindun gongcheng, the Golden Shield. As that name implies, China’s controls on the Internet are capable of blocking inbound as well as outbound traffic. And according to some security professionals, that means the Golden Shield is more than just a barrier to free expression; it may also be China’s advantage in a future cyber-war.

“China has powerful controls over content going out and coming in at every gateway,” says Jody Westby, chief executive of security consultancy Global Cyber Risk. She argues that the tight relationship between China’s government and its Internet service providers–originally established to stop Web users reading about censored topics like Tiananmen and Taiwan–also means the country could better coordinate a defense against online attacks.

In the U.S., by contrast, the autonomy of the Internet may leave it vulnerable to state-sponsored enemies trying to steal classified data or shut down servers controlling energy or telecommunications. “They have a decided defensive advantage,” says Westby. “China simply doesn’t have the same issues of coordination [the U.S.] would face in the case of information warfare.”

Sizing up threats in a hypothetical cyber-war is still based on educated guesswork and speculation, but no longer mere science-fiction: A political dispute in May over a U.S.S.R. memorial in Estonia led to massive attacks on the country’s government Web sites; state servers were paralyzed with “distributed denial of service” attacks, which use tens of thousands of simultaneous requests for information to overwhelm Web-connected computers. Estonia initially accused the Russian government of launching the blitzkrieg, though the use of “botnets”–herds of PCs hijacked with malicious software–made tracing its origin difficult.

The threat of an information-based war with China is particularly real. A Department of Defense report earlier this year warned that China’s military is putting more resources into “electromagnetic warfare,” focusing on attacking and defending computer networks.

The first shots may have already been fired: In August and September 2006, Chinese computers penetrated the State Department and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security. The attack, known as “Titan Rain,” forced the government to replace hundreds of computers and take others offline for a month. While that attack couldn’t be traced to any official source, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review commission subsequently claimed that China is developing computer viruses intended to disable military defense systems.

If China did turn computer viruses into a military tool, the Golden Shield could be used to prevent collateral damage, says Jayson Street, a consultant at the computer security firm Stratagem 1 Solutions. “The firewall would protect China from whatever it releases,” says Street. “When a worm goes out, it’s not a gun, it’s a bomb. It affects everyone. That’s why the Golden Shield could be so effective.”

Chinese cyber-attacks might take the same form as the denial of service attacks that rattled Estonia, using botnets to overwhelm foreign servers and depending on the Golden Shield to block attempts at retaliation.

The exact anatomy of the shield is known only to the Chinese government, but most security professionals believe it’s capable of not only filtering for certain politically charged keywords, but also examining the structure and origin of information moving into and out of the country’s networks. That means botnet attacks could be deflected more easily than in the U.S., where there are virtually no checks on international Internet traffic. ( …… more details from the Forbes)

Posted in Asia, censorship, China, Firewall, Freedom of Information, Human Rights, Internet, Law, military, News, Politics, Report, Social, Technology, USA, World | Comments Off on China’s Golden Cyber-Shield : The Great Firewall

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