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Censorship China Cloud Government The Internet Your Rights Online

Chinese City Wants To Build a Censorship-Free Hub 94

Posted by samzenpus
from the welcome-to-the-free-zone dept.
itwbennett writes "The city of Chongqing's proposed Cloud Computing Special Zone would be home to 'a handful of state-of-the-art data centers and is designed to attract investment from multinational companies and boost China's status as a center for cloud computing,' writes the IDG News Service's Michael Kan. The part that's drawing the ire of Chinese Internet users: This censorship-free hub would only be for foreign companies."
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Chinese City Wants To Build a Censorship-Free Hub

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  • Works a charm doesn't it?

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      More like an oligarchy. But then, most governments really are, despite ideological trappings suggesting otherwise.

      Must be we humans are wired that way.

      • Must be we humans are wired that way.

        Most humans. There do exist some that can actually handle a true democracy. Unfortunately, these individuals lack the persuasive ability to promote this in any large scale. The majority of the human population just seems to be overly obsessed with trying to convince everyone else how special they are so they can monopolize authoritative influence over others.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Please do not panic as we remove your comment. Everything is still fine.

    • by lul_wat (1623489) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @07:55AM (#36621000)
      When will people finally understand that there's a difference between communism/socialism and fascism/dictatorship.

      You can have a democratic socialist system, you can have a despot ruled capitalist system.

      Mix and match, bitches.
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        Communism can mean different things in different contexts. All attempts at implementing communism at the state level thus far have resulted in some sort of oppressive dictatorship or oligarchy. It's hard to fault people for using the term communism to describe this kind of government in informal speech.

        • It's hard to fault people for using the term communism to describe this kind of government in informal speech.

          Really? Even if they have failed thus far, that does not mean that they will always fail. And, considering that communism can mean different things in different contexts, as you said, I think it is rather foolish for someone to imply that all types of communism advocate this type of government and treat communism as some sort of "evil" (as some people seem to do).

          • by bonefry (979930)

            "I think it is rather foolish for someone to imply that all types of communism advocate this type of government

            Quite the contrary, communism is all about proletarian revolutions, power to the people and elections -- yes, elections. Dictators are getting elected. They are not really democratic elections, everything being directed with fake votes from a privileged minority, mechanical smiles and applauses and all that, but they are elections nonetheless.

            However, you should go and learn some systems theory -- just because a trait of a system is not advocated, it doesn't mean that it isn't going to happen, regardless of

            • However, you should go and learn some systems theory -- just because a trait of a system is not advocated, it doesn't mean that it isn't going to happen

              Where in my post did I say that?

              Communism itself is really natural for dictatorships.

              From what we've observed so far, yes (and from the current implementations that were tried).

              Its most important flaw however is that it fails to take into account human nature.

              Not necessarily. However, even if so, that does not mean that it will always fail. I don't believe that communism will work exactly as intended, but I won't state that as an absolute fact.

            • by mlts (1038732) *

              I will give this:

              Communism works on a small scale. When people are known and reputations matter, communism works.

              However, the system will completely break down when people start realizing that they can take more than they give and not suffer consequences for their action.

              The history of the Internet shows this -- before the C&S USENET spam, people tended to behave because all it took was a call to their sysadmin and they would be tossed off the net. After C&S, where it was shown that people could g

            • I would argue that the main reason why real-world Communist regimes tend toward dictatorship is that they have all sprang from the same Leninist root originating from Russia; and one key point of that particular variety is "democratic centralism" [wikipedia.org] - the idea being that leadership is elected democratically bottom up (via the council - "soviet" - system), but once elected, the decisions are to be unquestioningly obeyed top-down (i.e. if the supreme council decides something, it is fully binding on everyone und

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            Really? Even if they have failed thus far, that does not mean that they will always fail.

            No but it's a pretty bad track record. Currently they are synonyms in informal speech. It may very well happen that a successful large communist community is established, at which point the informal definition will have to change. That's the beauty (and frustration) of language - it constantly changes to fit the new conditions. It's frustrating because it makes digging through historical records difficult, as you need to be familiar with the contemporary usage of a word. Oh well, that's why we have historia

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Lol. No all communist governments are doomed to be dictatorial because of central planning and lack of individual rights. Communism can not be otherwise.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Yes. Very much like selective Capitalism.

    • by Cytotoxic (245301)

      Actually, I'm liking this idea. Just one more camel's nose under the tent. Keep shoving noses under there and maybe the great firewall will come crashing down.

  • by Nutria (679911) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @05:47AM (#36620456)

    ... unless you have secrets we really, really want.

    • How will they?

      If the data is important enough, it will be secure. If the data is not secure, then they will have access to it regardless of it's real world location.

      So this is a step in the right direction, if a somewhat pitiful one.

      I'm guessing this is more about the use of cryptography, something that is already de-facto legal for foreigners.

      • Or more importantly, why would they? I hate the 'cloud' moniker, but I gotta be honest, after switching my dedicated box (vanity domain/email) to cloud services I'm basically about half for 2 servers instead of 1, hosted with different companies at different locations. So why would I ever want to host anything a zillion miles away in China if my clients (payed or otherwise) are located here in the U.S and the costs are next to 'nill. That doesn't even consider the privacy issues. I may be a fool to trus

        • Perhaps it's for foreign businesses to target services to Chinese businesses or citizens. If I was running a multinational I would want to make sure that my servers in all countries were secure, and this requires cryptographic communications.

          • I agree, secure communications are secure communications. Either you are, or you aren't. Yet I don't really see the advantage of a censorship free city for business use as presumably the censorship still exists for Chinese citizens. Thus what's the point in mirroring super-cool-democracy.com (TM 20111) in China if the Chinese can't read it and the cost savings are 'nill compared to domestic options here in N. America. I suppose there could be a political reason to do so, perhaps in the hope that it wou

      • by Nutria (679911) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @07:53AM (#36620992)

        How will they?

        If you build all the components, assemble the computers and build the data centers, it's easy enough to build in side-channels and back doors.

        I'm guessing this is more about the use of cryptography

        Great in theory, but not so useful in the real world of non-geeks, where pass phrases are pathetically weak.

        • If all servers have to be assembled by the ministry of supervision, foreign businesses might be a bit suspicious.

          • by Nutria (679911)

            assembled by the ministry of supervision

            Big Business (usually owned by some PLA General or another) is deeply in bed with the PRC. Much deeper even than, for example, ATT when it willingly acquiesced to the NSA's request to tap into overseas fiber.

      • Don't count on the "de-facto", if FBI affiliates don't even practice good security measures: [thepiratebay.org]

        While not very many logins (around 180), we'd like to take the time to point out that all
        of them are affiliated with the FBI in some way. Most of them reuse their passwords in other places,
        which is heavily frowned upon in the FBI/Infragard handbook and generally everywhere else too.

        One of them ... used his Infragard password for his personal gmail, and the gmail of
        the company he owns
        . "Unveillance", a whitehat company that specializes in data breaches and botnets,
        was compromised because of Karim's incompetence. We stole all of his personal emails and his company
        emails. We also briefly took over, among other things, their servers and their botnet control panel.

  • by arbiter1 (1204146) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @05:48AM (#36620460)
    Looking at China's track record of handing the internet inside their country why would any company want to run servers in that country?
    • by erroneus (253617)

      Many are still willing to believe anything to get a bigger bottom line in their next SEC reports.

    • by fabioalcor (1663783) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @07:53AM (#36620990)

      Realy low cost service. There are lots of companies that don't give a shit about privacy, they only care about budget cuts. Especialy those companies who deal with other people data, not theirs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by biodata (1981610)
      What's dumb about this? Host your data in China, risk the government spying on you and giving secrets to their friends in industry, risk the government censoring and filtering your access to data arbitrarily, risk your employees being arrested for storing the 'wrong' kinds of data. Or - host your data in the US, ditto. Hosting data in thhe US would be dumb. The third option is just starting to emerge where smart people can see the huge gaping gap in the market - host your data in a country with decent l
      • Yeah, Hosting in the US has a great recent track record. How many server and/or domain seizures have we had recently?
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Companies selling TO China, of course, would be interested in a DC there for their local presence. Or if all the data you're storing is encrypted, it could be a useful place to put a backup server.

  • I clicked here from a newsfeed thinking "wtf?" but after reading the summary it sounds just like something China would do to bring in business.
  • largest city in China...(Administrative Area Population)...quite a significant city, I would say

  • So that all netizens in China will come to realize what they're being denied to all those years.
  • by cpghost (719344) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @06:10AM (#36620514) Homepage
    In former Eastern Germany, their communist regime provided retail stores only for foreigners [wikipedia.org] (or specially privileged East Germans with western money). This made people there very resentful of their government... and eventually, they got rid of it. China's communists should be careful not to rise the ire of their citizens too much if they want to remain in power. Then again, why not? China could really need a breath of fresh air, at least politically.
    • As someone who visited East Germany a *lot* between 1984 and 1990, I can safely say that most Western visitors were not going to East Germany to shop at Intershop, they were going for the excellent exchange rates on cut glass crystal sets, wooden goods, dolls houses and associated furniture etc etc, all of which was pennies to the mark.

      My family now has about $40,000 worth of cut glass crystal sets (wine goblets, decanters, cheese boards etc), top quality figurines etc etc, and my parents would have paid le

    • by wisty (1335733)

      In former Eastern Germany, their communist regime provided retail stores only for foreigners [wikipedia.org] (or specially privileged East Germans with western money). This made people there very resentful of their government... and eventually, they got rid of it. China's communists should be careful not to rise the ire of their citizens too much if they want to remain in power. Then again, why not? China could really need a breath of fresh air, at least politically.

      What makes you think it's not a deliberate step? China is not a monolith. There is a large and powerful free speech lobby, Wen Jiabao (the Premier - head of the government, but not the military; which is under party rule) is a big backer (but he gets censored himself). However, I guess consensus is that free speech is a genie you can't put back in the bottle, so the conservatives can buy time. Incremental reform, though, is certainly on the agenda.

      • by biodata (1981610)
        "However, I guess consensus is that free speech is a genie you can't put back in the bottle" Unless you are a country which doesn't trust its citizens so starts banning free speech on the grounds of national security and patriotism.
    • by MightyYar (622222)

      On the other hand, the Bahamas - which are fairly democratic - only allow gambling for non-citizens.

      Same reason: to bring in business - in this case tourism. Not all of the locals agree, but it doesn't necessarily mean oppression.

    • Just like how china does with Falun Gong and they put in to death / prison camps for being part of Falun Gong.

    • The same kind stores, known as the Friendship Store, existed in China back in 1970s and 1980s. These stores sold things like imported TV sets. In fact, the stores only accepted a special form of currency known as the Dui Huan Quan which could only be acquired by foreigners with foreign currencies. Local people could not even enter high-class hotels unless accompanied by foreigners. These might create some ire but more of ASPIRATIONS.

      Today, all of these are history. China becomes the leading suppliers of TV

      • These might create some ire but more of ASPIRATIONS.

        The political system in China has always been oppressive and people actually think that's the norm. In China being an official is regarded as an privilege. This has changed a lot since the last dynasty but a change at a cultural level has not happen. Today people in China still don't believe in equals rights for all. So powerful people in China can safely create such discriminating systems and actually use that as a demonstration of their power.

        It will not surprise me that 20 or 30 years later, we may envy at their social and political progress too.

        I am not quite optimistic here. In an equal society you would

        • There are no real equal rights for everyone everywhere. There are plenty of talks of such, including in China. If people in the US have more rights, like the rights to education, that's result of our impressive prior economic development and the current massive public debt. A lot more Chinese can now travel to Hong Kong, Taiwan, US, Japan, Australia, or Europe today, not because the governments of their destinations become kinder and respect people's rights to travel, but because Chinese people are richer a

  • and they think I would trust them?

  • All they want is more international traffic to cross thru china so they can eavesdrop. They've been trying to do this for years already by mucking with BGP and other routing tricks. The international community should use it solely for honeypots and as a base from which to probe chinese computers. We really should be pushing for ways to route ALL internet traffic around china and other repressive governments. Not to get the packets into the country past their censors, but to close off all business and govern
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you fall for that one you're more stupid than you look. Once they have your data on their computers they can do what they want with it.

    The 'Cloud' is just a fancy name for someone else's computers. Don't be a sucker.

  • by retroworks (652802) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @08:30AM (#36621224) Homepage Journal
    * Ahem * As a degree holder in Political Science with a minor in International Relations, ,i>kaff-kaff,/i>, I may be able to contribute here. The suspicions above are not without foundation. However, historically whenever a totalitarian regime has tried to espouse free and independent thought in a "contained" place, they often wind up growing free thinkers that they cannot later control. Hitler tried coddling his engineers, but they wound up sending secrets to the English and Americans. Stalin tried pampering Sakarov. So while I wouldn't drop my drawers in Chongqing's proposed Cloud Computing Special Zone, but I would applaud and encourage it. It could become an incubator for a representative there who actually believes what he's promising and would be frustrated to learn he's a front... a breeding ground for future Nobel Peace Prize nominees. So polite hurrahs are warranted.
    • * Ahem * As a degree holder in Political Science with a minor in International Relations, ,i>kaff-kaff,/i>, I may be able to contribute here. The suspicions above are not without foundation. However, historically whenever a totalitarian regime has tried to espouse free and independent thought in a "contained" place, they often wind up growing free thinkers that they cannot later control. Hitler tried coddling his engineers, but they wound up sending secrets to the English and Americans. Stalin tried pampering Sakarov. So while I wouldn't drop my drawers in Chongqing's proposed Cloud Computing Special Zone, but I would applaud and encourage it. It could become an incubator for a representative there who actually believes what he's promising and would be frustrated to learn he's a front... a breeding ground for future Nobel Peace Prize nominees. So polite hurrahs are warranted.

      Oddly enough, the Chinese government isn't stupid and takes a very long-term view of things.

      This could be exactly what they're planning and want this to happen so they can have the benefits and freedom due to the "changing times" without having to embarrass themselves by back-peddling with their current policy. It also lets them selectively enforce "who has freedom" by allowing the access policy to the area be "leaky".

    • by SheeEttin (899897)

      ,i>kaff-kaff,/i>

      You should probably see a doctor about that cough. You're coughing up HTML.

  • I have a number of friends who do business in China and know a bit about the economic and social environment there. Communism generally only exists in name only and I'm generally convinced it persists to keep the current leadership in power. But then, with a few exceptions, people there are generally satisfied with things. It's difficult to complain about consistent 8% economic growth. And the fact is that most Chinese agree with government policies. Where Americans value free speech at all costs, for examp

    • I have a number of friends who do business in China and know a bit about the economic and social environment there. Communism generally only exists in name only and I'm generally convinced it persists to keep the current leadership in power. But then, with a few exceptions, people there are generally satisfied with things. It's difficult to complain about consistent 8% economic growth. And the fact is that most Chinese agree with government policies. Where Americans value free speech at all costs, for example, Chinese value stability more highly.

      I don't agree with all of the parent's ideas, but this bit, very much so. People tend to forget what recent history means in China: a large number of people *remember* the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution. My friend's parents watched people starve in 1960, and had to deal with the Cultural Revolution in the late 60s. And they've watched their children go to university (which they couldn't do), get decent jobs (which weren't available, or reserved for those with connections), and have discr

    • by poity (465672)

      Really? People I know are always complaining. Housing prices, food prices, import duties where you'd pay 2x what people of other countries pay when they import. And then there's the constant strife between gov officials and public, disharmony between migrants and locals, increasing labor and civil rights disputes year after year, a handful I know even openly worry that there'll be civil war in their lifetimes (and they're 40+ year old businessmen who should be the most reassured).

    • by poity (465672)

      everything that the United States, with a weak economy, should be doing, China, with a strong economy, IS doing

      Trouble is, if you actually enumerate these things in a list and publicly support them on Slashdot, you'll be called a right-wing corporatism-supporting fascist who wants to rob from entitlements to subsidize business.

  • They might not censor what is in that data center, but they sure as hell will monitor what goes in and out of it. If you think its a cheap way to out source your cloud computing you better be ready to have some of your info stolen by the Chinese Gov't as all wires in and out will be tapped.
  • Hosting any foreign-sourced mission-critical data/logic or trade secrets within this hub would be a bad idea until the PRC gets better acquainted to the rule of law concept.

    While members of the OECD have and will periodically invoke "novel" interpretations of their laws and legal precedents, law w/in China is still utterly secondary to the opinions of the whim of local officials and the CCP as a whole. So, for example, hosting a node of the Wikipedia or buying cycles to design the next Boeing or Airbus at a

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