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Censorship China The Internet Your Rights Online

41% of Chinese Websites Shut Down In 2010 203

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the most-of-them-weren't-lolcats dept.
BinaryMage found a pretty shocking bit- apparently the Chinese government has shut down 1.3 million websites in 2010, an incredible 41% of all sites behind the great firewall. The usual reasons (pornography) are cited, as well as the reminder that China blocks Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube from its citizens. Anyone behind the firewall know if Slashdot is currently blocked? I've heard it varies.
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41% of Chinese Websites Shut Down In 2010

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  • by RobertinXinyang (1001181) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @07:50AM (#36761464)

    I am in P.R. China and I have never had trouble accessing Slashdot. In fact, it is so reliable that it is the site I typically check if I want to see if the internet connection is working.

    • by operagost (62405) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @08:32AM (#36761896) Homepage Journal
      I guess if the opposite was true, we wouldn't have heard from you!
    • by jacksonyee (590218) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @08:37AM (#36761960) Homepage

      I've been a daily Slashdot reader since 1997, and I've been exploring China since March of this year. The only time that I've ever had Slashdot blocked was with the Falen Gong article a couple of months back. Apparently, there was a url keyword detection routine which filtered the page out. Every other page has loaded just fine. Fortunately, since I have a shell account on a U.S. server, ssh -D [port] got around it quite nicely.

      I'm not sure how it is in the rest of the country, but here in Kunming, if you run a website, you have to have it registered with the police, which means that someone is probably periodically checking on your site to make sure that the content is considered appropriate and "harmonious." It is definitely a big brother approach, but considering the situation with the cameras in London, Homeland Security in the U.S., and the filtering in Australia, I really can't see an open web besides perhaps a couple of the European countries. To be honest, it reminds me an awful lot of the early gated communities like AOL, only this time, we're dealing with government rather than corporate interests.

      Youtube, Dailymotion, Twitter, Facebook, and other such sites are blocked on a constant basis requiring a VPN or SOCKS proxy to get around. It's a bit of an annoyance, but most people around here simply use the native Chinese versions and don't notice anything of the outside world. It's only us foreigners that really know what's going on.

      On the one plus side, China Telecom has a 3G mobile data plan with a 100 hour per month limit. I haven't found a data cap on it yet, and I used 17GiB last month watching Stargate: Universe. It's 500 yuan for the adapter and 400 yuan for six months, which works to ~67 yuan, or slightly over $10 per month use. Take that, AT&T!

      Whenever I finish exploring here and get to Europe, I'll get a chance to see how all of you fancy Europeans have been haggling us Americans about our data plans and cell phones for years. ;-)

      • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @09:04AM (#36762270)

        >It is definitely a big brother approach, but considering the situation with the cameras in London, Homeland Security in the U.S., and the filtering in Australia,

        Cameras in public spaces or being searched before getting on a plane have nothing to do with state enforced censorship. I'm not sure why so many Chinese find it believable that their limits of expression are normal and fit in with the West. They don't. Its just propaganda to make you feel better and not to try any pesky revolution or uprising.

        • by jacksonyee (590218) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @10:00AM (#36762950) Homepage

          It's interesting that you should use the word "normal" in your post, because here in China, Internet filtering is indeed normal, the same way that you would considering post-9/11 groping to be normal and being constantly watched in the streets of London normal. Do I agree with it? Certainly not, but every place has its own culture and laws, and for the most part, the modern Chinese people are getting along just fine without trying to fit in with Western ideals.

          It's actually quite amazing to me how much China has progressed from the days of the Cultural Revolution though. Between all of the new high-tech buildings, the girls in miniskirts out on the streets, the new high speed train which rivals the Japanese, and the huge influx of luxury items, it's hard to believe that this was a nation torn apart and hungry just half a century ago. Now, I believe that the Bill of Rights (not the Constitution itself, due to that nasty 3/5th compromise) is one of the greatest ideas in history, but China has placed economic freedom above political freedom in its efforts to pacify its people, and having a chance to be here and talk to various people, I've actually found that it's working decently well.

          Not every place is like the U.S., but not every place is like the Middle East either. I really don't know how the "China model," as it's often called, is going to end up, but to be honest, propaganda is everywhere. How many times have you watched a commercial where everything was true? How many people do you know who watch Fox news or listen to Rush Limbaugh? Even NPR and the BBC have their own biases. How many actual, purely objective articles can you find in the mainstream media? Certainly, we don't have the state mandated media in the U.S. like China does, but the important thing to accept is that everyone has their own propaganda, no matter where they are. It's just a matter of which ones you agree with and which ones you don't.

          Do the things that work for the U.S. automatically work in China? It's going to be very interesting to find out in the next ten to twenty years as China continues developing and opening up to the world. I'm curious to see how this huge housing bubble and the enormous debts of the local governments are going to turn out, but there's no denying China's growth and advancement in the last 30 years. With Russia's fade from glory, I'm hoping that some competition can get the U.S. out of its current funk and start being the country that we're capable of being. If not, China will be glad to sell us everything that we need, and once they get past the copying stage and start innovating for themselves, it's going to be scary.

          • by jmac_the_man (1612215) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @10:52AM (#36763600)

            Now, I believe that the Bill of Rights (not the Constitution itself, due to that nasty 3/5th compromise) is one of the greatest ideas in history

            Interestingly, the point of the 3/5 compromise was to kill slavery. If a slave counted for one person for purposes of representation, the slave states would have 2/5ths more representation than they got under the actual Constitution. They would have used that extra representation to hang on to slavery for as long as possible.

            This is one of the most misunderstood concepts in American history.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            but to be honest, propaganda is everywhere. How many times have you watched a commercial where everything was true? How many people do you know who watch Fox news or listen to Rush Limbaugh? Even NPR and the BBC have their own biases. How many actual, purely objective articles can you find in the mainstream media? Certainly, we don't have the state mandated media in the U.S. like China does, but the important thing to accept is that everyone has their own propaganda, no matter where they are. It's just a matter of which ones you agree with and which ones you don't.

            Yes, it's human nature that organized groups enjoy pushing their own agenda, and are willing to hide certain facts or bend the truth in order to do it. When governments do it, we call it propaganda. When companies do it, we call it advertising. It's everywhere.

            The critical difference here is what a government does when you publicly disagree with its propaganda. You mentioned the Bill of Rights; consider Freedom of Speech. Yeah, it's not carte blanche to say whatever you want (you can't scream "Fire!" in a c

            • by JordanL (886154)

              Astounding economic growth doesn't excuse human rights abuses.

              In this way I think, sadly, that the Chinese are just buying in to the "we're rich therefore we're right" concept, right as America is FINALLY starting to admit that the ideology has decimated so many facets of our society.

              I hope you Chinese citizens don't spend as long wallowing in your own supposed superiority as we did. Wasted some of the best years of our society so far on complete nothingness.

          • by russotto (537200) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @12:31PM (#36764880) Journal

            the modern Chinese people are getting along just fine without trying to fit in with Western ideals.

            Ooh, the culture card. To oppose Internet censorship is to be provincial, parochial, imperialist, colonialist, or whatever the bad word is today. Imagine how silly it would be if someone from some other culture objecting to TSA groping were to be told that the US was getting along just fine without trying to fit into that other culture's ideals.

            (not the Constitution itself, due to that nasty 3/5th compromise)

            You do understand that it was the free states which wanted a slave counted as zero, and the slave states who wanted a slave counted as a full person, for the purposes of representation?

            I really don't know how the "China model," as it's often called, is going to end up, but to be honest, propaganda is everywhere.

            Indeed it is. Enjoy your job at the (Chinese) Ministry of Propaganda.

      • by dave420 (699308)
        Cameras in London? You mean the cameras which are overwhelmingly in the hands of private citizens, which are not run by the state, and from which anyone can request copies of any footage of themselves they might have captured? It's not really a valid comparison :) The "open web" is perfectly possible in all but the handful of countries which block sites.
      • by v1 (525388)

        It's a bit of an annoyance, but most people around here simply use the native Chinese versions and don't notice anything of the outside world.

        Yep, ignorance is bliss.

      • by AftanGustur (7715)

        I haven't found a data cap on it yet, and I used 17GiB last month

        17 Gigs ?? Wow ... I once went to 370 Gigs with mine here in Europe (downloaded a bunch of Bluray movies) and nothing happened.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        It is definitely a big brother approach, but considering the situation with the cameras in London, Homeland Security in the U.S., and the filtering in Australia, I really can't see an open web

        If you are referring to CCTV cameras, what do publicly sited cameras have to do with the web?

    • In fact, it is so reliable that it is the site I typically check if I want to see if the internet connection is working.

      You don't do that by clicking any of the article links, do you?

    • Why would it, anyone with reasonable intelligence wouldn't believe a word on Slashdot anyways. Slanted Stories, Comments from numbskulls like me who just debate people and often will just play devils advocate just to keep things interesting and fight off boredom.

      • by lennier (44736)

        wouldn't believe a word on Slashdot anyways. Slanted Stories, Comments from numbskulls like me who just debate people and often will just play devils advocate

        So... you're saying that since you're playing devil's advocate, Slashdot comments are perfectly trustworthy?

        But that would mean that you're sincere, which would mean that... so, if I asked you which door the white knight would tell the black knight to go through that didn't lead to certain death... what would Douglas Hofstadter answer?

        (Trick question! Douglas Hofstadter always answers "Douglas Hofstadter".)

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      I am in P.R. China and I have never had trouble accessing Slashdot. In fact, it is so reliable that it is the site I typically check if I want to see if the internet connection is working.

      Why don't you just use Google like most people? Oh, wait...

      • Sorry to bust your bubble; but, Google works fine too. It does default to a Chinese version; but, there is a redirect link on the page to go to the English version.

        What doesn't work, as some have alluded to, is youtube and facebook. Yes, there are workarounds; but, I haven't gotten any of the free workarounds to work.

  • Not blocked (Score:5, Informative)

    by water-and-sewer (612923) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @07:50AM (#36761468) Homepage

    Slashdot is not blocked in China, but citizens are forced to use older browsers that choke on Slashdot's excessive CSS and Javascript goodness. The result is an experience - not unlike my own - that makes Slashdot increasingly too annoying a site to visit.

    • Re:Not blocked (Score:4, Informative)

      by killkillkill (884238) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @08:01AM (#36761560)
      It's the same experience on new browsers as well.
    • Re:Not blocked (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lord Lode (1290856) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @08:20AM (#36761752)

      ./ is annoying in new browsers too. I can't click a link anymore without the page doing a random scroll-jump instead. Same for middleclicking, or trying to moderate something, or anything else that requires clicking any of the 3 mouse buttons on ./.

      Furthermore it often shows an eternal "loading" spinning thing at the bottom.

      • by sgt scrub (869860)

        I'm using Firefox 5 and all is good. Are you using IE or is your idea of "new browsers" Firefox 3 and IE5?

        • I'm using Firefox 5 and get exactly the same symptoms he is. I'd love to know what I'm doing wrong.

        • FF4.

        • What he describes can be observed when you have a post open, but several of its parents collapsed. This does not normally occur on article pages, but is what you see when you click on the link in those "you've got a reply to your comment" notification emails. Alternatively, here [slashdot.org] is a link that will display your own post that way.

          Now go there, and try to click on any of the words in your post (e.g. assuming that you're trying to select them to copy/paste). Notice how it expands the parent post and moves focu

          • by sgt scrub (869860)

            I thought it expanded the parent for me when I click on my post so I can review or cut and paste out something I want to comment on. When I click on "Reply to This" it again centers on the cursor in the Comment box. I guess I'm used to gui interfaces automating things for me if I want them to or not so I ignore it. Regardless. That is not a "random scroll jump" IMHO. I thought he was actually getting random focus points, which is still possible. If not then he should have added "Get off my lawn" so we

      • Re:Not blocked (Score:5, Informative)

        by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @08:31AM (#36761890) Homepage Journal
        It's not actually link-clicking that's causing what you describe. A post with collapsed parents will expand the parents one by one (and jump uselessly) when anything within it is clicked. You'd think that would be obvious enough a UI design disaster to avoid, but apparently they really are brain-damaged here.
        • by Braino420 (896819)
          It's ridiculous. I got so fed up with the threshold sliders not working, especially on my phone, and having to keep clicking "more comments" that I just switched back to the "Classic Discussion System". Account > Discussions and then select the radio button.
          • The sliders seem to remember their position across all devices - they must be associated with a login - so setting them from your desktop browser should keep working on the phone/tablet.

            I wish I could just switch to Classic, but then I lose the ability to expand child comments, and have to open them in new tabs, which is particularly inconvenient on mobile. Sometimes I think it would be easier to write a comment scraper (over Classic), and a sane UI on top of that - it would probably be faster than waiting

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            I got so fed up with the threshold sliders not working, especially on my phone,

            Holy crap, I cannot even begin to imagine how horrible slashdot would look on a phone.

      • Argh, I just realized I typed ./ instead of /.

        But hey, maybe it should not be called /. anymore with its current JS implementation :p

      • by sxeraverx (962068)
        It's the same on the iPhone. It's always a gamble whether you click the right link or just the blank space next to it because everything's a link and the phone can't guess where you meant to click anymore. Moreover, the JavaScript makes it so that it's always a gamble whether you'll be ably to type in the text box or not, and the comment submission process is just painfully slow. It's not just the quality of the articles on this site that's been steadily falling.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just spent 36 days in china.
    Youtube would work maybe 1 or 2 clips, before you had to change connection.
    Facebook, would work for an hour or so and then be offline for an hour. Keep bouncing up and down.

    • What causes this?
      Are they blacklisting single videos on youtube? But why does changing the connection solve this? Are they listening in on your connection and modify blocks individually just for your session?
      Why would they block a site (facebook) and then unblock it an hour later? The content is most likely unchanged.
      Are they using a rand() to decide on blocks?

      • ISPs double and even triple NAT their networks. Routing tables and DNS is all jacked up too. It could be intentional, but I'd rather suspect incompetence if anything. I've seen this kind of behavior with a few residential connections and hotels in China over the years. Trust me when I say that it's a mess. Duct tape and bailing wire. That's what it seems to be held up with. Sheesh.

  • Short answer: No.

    Longer answer: Usually no. It has been blocked a couple of times in the last few years, but that usually only lasted one day, or half a day. The fact that /. was blocked was probably a mistake in filter manipulation. It's not blocked, because probably the firewall admins waste their days away, lounging here too?

  • by poity (465672) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @08:09AM (#36761640)

    Anything happen when you search Tiananmen in the Slashdot searchbox? It used to time out the entire domain for me.

    • Just tried it here from Kunming with the results:

      Wikileaks Cables Say No Bloodshed Inside Tiananmen Square 235
      2011
      2009
      Bing Censoring All Simplified Chinese Language Queries 214
      Chinese Social Websites Go Under "Maintenance" 84
      Twitter, Flickr, Hotmail, Others Blocked In China 151
      20 Years After Tiananmen, China Stifles Online Dissent 235
      China Blocks YouTube, Again 127
      China Makes Arrests To Stop Internet Porn 204
      2009
      2008
      China Does U-Turn, Lifts Ban On Websites 133
      China Allows Access to English Wikipedia 219
      2

      • Yahoo Confirms Beijing Blocking Flickr 163

        what is the status of flickr, btw? is that viewable in china?

        I bought some item from china and it was defective. had to email them for an rma; and it seems currently the 'fashion' to have to take a picture of the item (??) before they'll allow an rma. not sure what that's about - a photo could be of anything! but to them, its some kind of 'proof' (go figure!)

        so I pointed the guy at my flickr page where I took a photo of the defective item. he claimed he could n

    • by donscarletti (569232) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @09:18AM (#36762418)
      Tiananmen is a symbol of China and features on the Chinese national crest and is certainly not blocked. Tiananmen Square is where Chairman Mao's body rests and the site of a monument to the people's fallen heroes, it is not blocked either. There is however a particular date 22 years ago that if you mention in any way, the domain will be inaccessible for the next 10 minutes.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Thud457 (234763)
        I don't for a minute believe your fairy stories. It's like claiming you will be snatched away if you say the name Candleja
  • there were were 41% fewer websites at the end of 2010 than a year earlier.

    This does not mean that 41% of the sites were shut down by the government. In fact, nowhere in the article does it say the websites were "shut down" at all. There are many other reasons websites go offline, like people getting bored of maintaining them, their not being popular, their failing to make a profit or break even, etc. Sensationalistic reporting, now on slash!

    • by sgt scrub (869860)

      There are many other reasons websites go offline

      All the pr0n is downloaded.

    • by rbrausse (1319883)

      this document [cnnic.cn] of the .cn-registry is interesting.

      sure, the thing is biased but take a look at page 23:

      In the first half year of 2010, the number of internet sites in the globe has fallen and that in China has declined synchronously. According to the statistics of Netcraft, in the first half year of 2010, the number of internet sites in the world has been decreased by 27 million7, with a drop of 11.5%. An important reason for the drop of total sites is the expiration of web hosting services.

      TFA compares end of 2009 with end of 2010, the survey is unfortunately older (June 2010) so it is not possible to see the same data from the 2 different POVs...

    • he was sentenced to prison (in part) for running a website about the poisoned baby milk scandal.

      its not hard to explain why that happened. there was no boredom involved.

      • by Dunbal (464142) *

        And you would be sentenced to prison for not submitting to a TSA pat-down. Moral of the story - breaking the laws of your country result in jail.

        By the way, this has nothing to do with the other 1,299,999 websites that disappeared from the internet. But I guess this is the kind of rationalization you need to construct when you live in a country that tells you every day how free you are, when really you're no better off than anyone else and much worse off than quite a few. Yeah, keep focusing on those exce

  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @08:34AM (#36761926)

    I haven't read the BBC article but have read this in the local Hong Kong paper today.

    Lots of sites closed, but the opinions vary on why. The state-sponsored bodies in China claim it is because most of those sites went bankrupt, while others (mainly foreign human-rights activists) claim it's the government forcing them to close. Fact is lots of sites closed, yet the total number of pages available is a whopping 90 billion. Yes that's like 70 pages for every Chinese citizen. And many more if you only count Chinese Internet users.

    Some web sites are for sure closed by the government, mainly for pornography, but also sometimes for political speech. Though it seems the Chinese actually enjoy quite some freedom on-line.

    And Twitter not available from within China, who cares when you have Weibo? Most Chinese can't read English anyway. And no Google? Well they have Baidu.

    Yes it's censored, but no they don't miss out on too much functionality either. It's not that the Chinese can not do those things by themselves, and they do it in Chinese catering to Chinese users. It may be an American viewpoint but all the time I hear "no YouTube, no Google, no Twitter" as if that's the complete Internet?! I'm happy there is more than those few sites. Much more.

    And on the importance of Twitter in China... how many non-Chinese will ever look at what's going on on Weibo?

    • a few weeks ago.

      it was about how some people got 18 months in prison for industrial espionage... what were they spying on?

      the size and shape of the ipad 2. they were going to make cases for it, before it was released.

      im glad the chinese communist party caught these horrific criminals and put them in jail.

    • I signed up for a Weibo account last week. I've had a Renren account (Chinese Facebook clone) for over a year now. I can't effectively use either of them due to language difficulties. Really need to practice my Chinese reading. So this gives some insight into how Chinese people view western sites. They just can use them - so they don't care that they are blocked. Why would you worry that Youtube is blocked when you have all the videos you need on Youkou or Tudou.

  • How the heck would you expect them to post on here saying so?

    Durr.

  • I wish the Chinese government were at least partly as zealous about shutting down forum spammers.

  • Porn (Score:3, Funny)

    by Cockatrice_hunter (1777856) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @09:17AM (#36762416) Homepage

    Almost think that the takeaway from this article is that 41% of websites in china are porn,

  • Is China blocking Slashdot? I'm sure it is now. [fofg.org]
  • Wikipedia is another somewhat popular site that is blocked. They also seem to have some way of determining that a user is using SSH to connect to a SOCKS proxy. I could tool around on my server all night, but as soon as I started browsing the connection became so slow it was unusable for any purpose, and yes, DNS lookups were being done through the proxy.
  • I move that we promote censorship to a crime against humanity. It is torture and starvation of the mind, and disgusting on every level.
  • This is because China stopped allowing undocumented domain registration. [washingtonpost.com] Registering a domain in China now requires a national ID and a business license. GoDaddy then stopped registering ".cn" domains, probably a good thing.

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