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The Internet Censorship

Chinese Internet Censorship Operation Revealed 86

Posted by Zonk
from the lots-of-busy-bees dept.
Stony Stevenson passed on a link to an in-depth look at the Chinese government's massive censorship operation. Reporters Without Borders put together a report on the activities of the operation, with a primary focus on the censorship of internet access and participation. "Chinese supervisory bodies often use instant messaging and text messages sent via mobile phones to communicate quickly with commercial Web sites. The purpose is to tell them which articles or comments are not to be published, and which events or issues are taboo. The Beijing Internet Information Administrative Bureau holds weekly meetings with 19 of the leading Web sites based in the capital to evaluate the subjects that Internet users find most interesting that week."
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Chinese Internet Censorship Operation Revealed

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  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Friday October 12, 2007 @02:46PM (#20958083) Homepage Journal
    That's the message I got when I first tried to view this post, for a second I was scared Slashdot also got a textmsg.
    • by h4rm0ny (722443)

      So who's going to be the first poster this time to say that it's okay, because the Chinese like censorship and are happy about it?

      That seems to be the usual slashdot comment.
  • A Chinese fire drill...
  • by Loopy (41728) on Friday October 12, 2007 @02:52PM (#20958163) Journal
    Or news? Hmm...

    Next up, research shows Stalin really just a misunderstood hermit who was abused by his father. Film at 11!
  • A small preview (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kwabbles (259554) on Friday October 12, 2007 @02:52PM (#20958177)
    of the future of America.
    • It is not the Future of America until you can not say what you just said :) Yes the Freedom of speech is a nice thing don't you think? Or are you a foreigner who just looked up America in a text book and noticed it is mentioned a lot on slashdot.

      The government can do and take what they want but they have not accomplished anything until they take away your freedom of speech and I do not see anyone coming around stitching lips shut.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by megaditto (982598)

        I do not see anyone coming around stitching lips shut.


        I do, all the time. Just one recent example: the people that hung a noose on the black prof's door are now looking at a felony and a long time in jail.

        • Re:A small preview (Score:4, Insightful)

          by king-manic (409855) on Friday October 12, 2007 @03:23PM (#20958625)

          I do, all the time. Just one recent example: the people that hung a noose on the black prof's door are now looking at a felony and a long time in jail.


          Thats not censorship, thats the criminal justice system working. Issuing death threats is a crime you know.
        • Stitching someones lips shut because you do not like what they say is one thing. Hanging a noose in the doorway of an African American persons office is another thing. I think that is what one would call a Hate crime.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_crime#United_States/ [wikipedia.org] You may want to read this, and the section after. A Hate crime is a little diffrent then shouting Nig*er is a crowded movie theater. This all falls under the same context that you have a right to yell fire, but you can not yell fire in
          • Unless of course the theater is on fire..

            Plus in this day and age if you did yell Fire in a theater - even if it actually was on fire - people would probably just shush you and go back to watching the movie..
          • by megaditto (982598)
            As someone once said, one man's terrorist is another man's Freedom Fighter.

            It works the same way here, I think, in that your speach is Free only until you start saying unpopular things (which varies by country). There are things you can say that will give you a standing ovation in Sweden and a bullet in the US of A.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by kwabbles (259554)
        Not stitching lips yet.

        www.google.com http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/
        http://www.chiprowe.com/articles/free-speech-quiz.html [chiprowe.com]
        etc
        etc
      • Censorship is horrible, but it doesn't appear to be necessary to create a de-facto totalitarian state. All you need to do is to spread the sense that "everything is OK, and everyone who says otherwise is a liberal wacko / conspiracy theorist" and you can have your totalitarian policies right out in the open. Actually, historically, full-fledged censorship seems to be more of an endgame play of totalitarian states after freedom is already gone rather than an early step in subverting a free society.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Economic prosperity without political liberty is the wave of the future. People behave because it gives people things to lose such as cushy jobs, nice homes, SUV's, entertainment systems, retirement portfolia, boats, RV's, vacations, etc. These things are not in themselves harmful, but in conjunction with a political system that can so easily deprive persons such things, they tend to make people apathetic to things political.
    • by davidsyes (765062)
      EXACTLY, and succinct.

      My less-than-succinct response is (to those who disagree that this is or might be a preview of things to come in the US):

      And...? The US "intelligence" agencies have "honeynets" which are capable of (even if not yet used for) moving undesirable topics out of view by timing out the site, proxy-sending copyright infringement notices to take down articles, spamming and altering sites. Though I cannot say this has happened to me, I am sure that HOT ENOUGH sites would be and are affected.

      Cap
      • by PitaBred (632671)

        And...? The US "intelligence" agencies have "honeynets" which are capable of (even if not yet used for) moving undesirable topics out of view by timing out the site, proxy-sending copyright infringement notices to take down articles, spamming and altering sites. Though I cannot say this has happened to me, I am sure that HOT ENOUGH sites would be and are affected.

        Proof? That's a pretty bold claim... I don't pretend that the intelligence community wouldn't like more control, and doesn't do surreptitious things, but random sites being taken down? Especially "HOT" sites, where the failure would be more visible? Have you tuned your tinfoil hat lately?

        • by davidsyes (765062)
          Nah, I painted over the foil cuz all of it's manufactured with DOD/Intel devices embedded...
        • Have you tuned your tinfoil hat lately?

          That's becoming the most cliche ad-hominem attack ever.

          I'd personally like to suggest a Goodwin-esque rule for "tin-foil hat". Anyone who makes fun of the other guy's tin-foil hat loses the argument for his side.

    • by p0tat03 (985078)
      And this is why the 2nd Amendment needs to be protected at all costs. And I'm not even American, how odd is that? It is also why it is every parent's responsibility to teach their children to respect and cherish their freedoms, and be thoroughly informed as to their origin (founding fathers, Constitution, etc) and why it's significant.
    • What a load of crap. I realize it's trendy to make sensationalist statements concerning "fascist Amerika" but come on, did you even RTFA? I mean, jesus. And the kicker is their operation appears so efficient. That doubly disqualifies this from ever happening here.
  • SETI has yet to find any obvious intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. Apparently they have been here, seen us, and decided censorship is the correct solution. With all that red shift out there, could we have realistically expected anything else?
  • This website wouldn't exist if we had that kind of censorship here. Yes, we all know that the Chinese gov't censors internet access, but do any of us know the true extent of the censorship? This article was pretty enlightening.
    • by davidsyes (765062)
      While I think this COULD be a preview (not that it IS THE preview), I suspect that the US government won't enact in full such a process. After all, driving the subversives, dissenters, and freedom fighters TOTALLY underground just makes them go away but return with a vengeance, fully recharged.

      But, it is ironic that the US government intelligence agencies and various special interest groups bemoan that China does these things, yet for the sake of the shareholders and the 'merkun economy, it's business as us
    • by gnuman99 (746007)
      No. Websites like and similar to Slashdot are a goldmine for CIA/NSA. They decide whom to put on the "watch lists" from automatic and semi-automatic scans of these boards.

      Why do you think there are terrorist message boards out there? If US wanted, these would be removed tomorrow. They are using them.
      • by Ash Vince (602485)

        Why do you think there are terrorist message boards out there? If US wanted, these would be removed tomorrow. They are using them.

        Exactly. Over here in Britain there is a very famous mosque in North London that was widely reported as having been infiltrated by radicals who were using it to spread hatred and plan attacks. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finsbury_Park_mosque)

        This came to the attention of the British gutter press who started a hate campaign to have it closed. The police gave the impression that they were completely powerless to intervene and close the place and seemed to be letting things just carry on. Then after a year

  • Google: "Oh, no, we're not evil. Our friends, our business partners, our customers, they're evil, but we're not."
  • cue the slashbots (Score:4, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Friday October 12, 2007 @03:03PM (#20958335) Homepage Journal
    who say we can't criticize this because the west does bad thing X when it comes to privacy and freedom of expression even though bad thing X isn't anywhere remotely as bad as what the chinese are doing

    look, my neighbor shot his dog, but i'm not going to criticize him, because i let my dog poop in the flower beds, and letting the dog poop in the flower beds is the beginning of an unstoppable slippery slope to murder and pedophilia and listening to cold play

    pffffft

    to every issue: abortion, freedom of expression, privacy, gun rights, etc., there are people who can think clearly on the issue, and then there are the raging fundamentalists

    dear freedom of expression fundamentalists: where's my "troll" rating? k thx

    • to every issue: abortion, freedom of expression, privacy, gun rights, etc., there are people who can think clearly
      They can't think clearly about an issue if censorship prevents them from learning the facts about the issue.

      PS: Please finish your damn movie so I don't have to read your sig in every thread every day. If you spent more time filming and less time posting to slashdot, you might be done with it already.
    • I can't recall ever reading a comment over 0 that made anything like the strawman argument you are presenting - you are, at best, railing against an imagined point of view that no-one actually holds.

      Ar worst, you are deliberately misrepresenting and criticizing something legitimate - which is, that we, most of us are Americans, are first and foremost responsible for what *we* do, and if we are serious about moral questions, we should hold ourselves to a higher standard.

      Thus, if we're going
    • by Shadowlore (10860)
      Letting your dog poop in the flower beds certainly can be a slippery slope to somewhere. Depends on where you step and where your flower beds are.
  • ... txtmsg censors YOU!
  • by syrinje (781614) on Friday October 12, 2007 @03:11PM (#20958453)
    Leaving aside the obvious questions of why this either a surprise, or even news, this highlights the unintended consequences of technological advance. Firewalls and content inspection technology owe their origin to defensive uses - and continuing improvements in these have been driven largely by the increase in sophistication of the attack/penetration/exploit methods used by the bad guys. The resulting state-of-the art sudenly turns out to be incredibly powerful, capable not only of applying fine grain control based on endpoints, applications and content, but frighteningly able to provide loads of information that can be used to identify the people behind the keyboards. The fruits of defensive protection ripened to be picked by big-brother type regimes across the world - some for protectionist regulatory purposes (some countries use these to block VoIp to the benefit of state-run telcos), many for paranoiac surveillance (need I say more), some to prevent information flow across boundaries (Chine, Burma, etc.) - in short, multifarious nefarious usees of a technology suite intended to protect! Someone should list all the companies that make and sell such equipment to repressive/exploitative regimes - that would be a whos who of the industry....:(
  • Revealed? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Orig_Club_Soda (983823) on Friday October 12, 2007 @03:15PM (#20958511) Journal
    What's this "revealed" nonsense? We have known for at least10 years the Chinese censor the internet. Please refrain from the false sensationalism.
    • by njfuzzy (734116)
      Details have been revealed about how the process works. I don't think anyone is pretending to be stating this fact to us for the first time.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by justinlee37 (993373)
        A more accurate headline would have been, "Details of Chinese Internet Censorship Revealed."
  • by Danathar (267989) on Friday October 12, 2007 @03:23PM (#20958623) Journal
    I find it interesting that even though the common belief that the internet is immune to sensorship is accepted pretty much by the entire tech community that the chinese are going full steam ahead anyway.

    Just goes to show you that there are people who believe THEY CAN do what others say can't be done.

    What will happen to our cherished belief of the invulnerability of the internet to censorship IF the chinese actually succeed?

    Just because you believe in something does mean it is actually true
  • Disgusting (Score:5, Funny)

    by bob.appleyard (1030756) on Friday October 12, 2007 @03:34PM (#20958821)
    I am shocked and appalled that the Chinese would stoop so low as to adopt censorship policies. Their long and proud history of freedom has been sorely tarnished by this scandal!
  • from TFA "elaborate system for Internet censorship that employs tens of thousands of censors and police" Why can't our wrongheaded government programs be more like the Chinese? Theirs employs tens of thousands. We use our fancy computers to silently monitor everyone, reducing labor need, and thereby keeping us unemployed and under scrutiny. Wow! Wow! Chairman Mao! Gooooooooo China!
  • The "Great Firewall", authorities texting website admins, and regular meetings with a few dozen major websites aren't going to solve the PRC's information control problem. IP blocks can be circumvented. Filters can be tricked. And even if they have 10,000 'Net police texting website owners, they won't be able to remove more than a handful of messages from the millions of forums and comment threads that have been created. There's only one solution that *might* work for them if Internet discourse gets too un
  • Someone please explain to me how the "Great Firewall of China" can really be all that effective at denying their citizens access to Western media and news and then suck so horribly at preventing these same citizens from doing illegal activity? The various servers that I administer 75 to 85% of the hacking attempts come from China alone. I also know a large amount of spam is generated within their borders. So I ask again, if they can't or aren't preventing this kind of illeagal activity, what makes Bejing th
  • Just like the idiot from Mattell decided to apologize to China because they're trying to poison our kids with lead paint on toys over and over, obviously somehow this is our fault. We clearly need to apologize to them for this as well. After all, it can't possibly be their fault, can it?
  • I live in China and such take-down notices by phone are well known, though I have never got any myself as I'm not a webmaster. Censorship issues aside, I wonder how the "security officials" can authenticate themselves. It will be incredibly insecure if a webmaster just listens to a random guy over the phone.
  • I always post this one when someone mentions china these days: http://420.thrashbarg.net/beijing_2008_olympics_logo_story_vincentchow_animated.gif [thrashbarg.net].

    (put together from these [vincentchow.net])

  • "...to determine the subjects that Internet users are to find most interesting that week."

There is hardly a thing in the world that some man can not make a little worse and sell a little cheaper.

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