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Censorship Your Rights Online

Is China's Control of the Internet Slipping? 422

Garp writes "According to the BBC news site the Chinese governments grip on the internet is slipping. Ever since they allowed use of the internet, the Chinese have been monitoring the information that has been flowing (jokingly referred to as the great fire-wall of china), in an attempt to ensure 'bad' philosophies don't infect their people. However, the internet is having a much more profound affect, out of the control of the government ..."
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Is China's Control of the Internet Slipping?

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  • by jukal ( 523582 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @08:59AM (#3651721) Journal
    In this paper the authors illustrate how two authoritarian regimes, China and Cuba, are maintaining control over the Internet's political impact through different combinations of reactive and proactive strategies. These cases illustrate that, contrary to assumptions, different types of authoritarian regimes may be able to control and profit from the Internet. Examining the experiences of these two countries may help to shed light on other authoritarian regimes' strategies for Internet development, as well as help to develop generalizable conclusions about the impact of the Internet on authoritarian rule.

    The whole document is here []
  • by unformed ( 225214 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:02AM (#3651736)
    If you have -any- way access an outside machine that is relatively in your control (ie: shell access, which can be bought for a few dollars a month) then you can get by any protection.

    Here's an article I wrote not too long ago about how to do it:
    - - - -
    Breaking Through Any Firewall or Proxy

    There's different reasons for breaking through firewalls/proxies.
    1) Get completely unfiltered access to the internet.
    2) Get unmonitored, or secure, access to the internet.
    3) Access services normally disallowed by the firewall.

    The article will demonstrate various ways to get by most implementations of firewalls/proxies. In absolutely no way am I responsible if you do anything you're not supposed to, or even supposed to, be doing. If you get caught and fired, tough shit. If you access illegal information, tough shit. If you open up a hole and somebody breaks into your computer, tough shit. I'm not responsible. (This is for the lawsuit-happy bastards out there.)

    Anyways, lets begin:

    For all methods, it is expected that you have access to a machine on the other side of the firewall, and that it has access to whatever you need.
    Your machine will be the CLIENT, and the machine on the other side of the firewall will be the TUNNEL. The accessed machine will be the SERVER.

    Furthermore, this article also assumes you a basic knowledge of your browser's configuration, installing software on your CLIENT and TUNNEL machines, and logging in via SSH.

    A Linux/Unix box is preferable for the TUNNEL, but not required by any means. The software is freely available for any system.

    1) HTTP Tunneling Through SSH
    Often, only some ports will be firewalled (80, 21, etc) for caching, filtering, and monitoring purposes. However, they leave direct access available for other ports (25, 23, etc).

    If your browser must use a proxy to access the web, but you don't require a proxy to get mail, this is probably the implementation.

    If you have direct access to non-popular ports, you can access almost any service as long as you change the port. Generaly, the main purpose of bypassing this firewall is to have unfiltered and/or unmonitored web access. The method can of course be modified to meet your needs.

    Install a proxy server (ie: tinyproxy) on the TUNNEL machine. For security purposes, set the listening port to an odd port (ie: 8999, REMOTE_PROXY_PORT) or set access rights to only localhost. Install an SSH (ie: sshd) server on the TUNNEL. For security purposes, set the listening port to an odd port. Do NOT set access rights to only localhost because you'll access the proxy through ssh.

    Install an SSH client on the CLIENT machine. Select a random port (LOCAL_PORT) and then set the browser's proxy to localhost:LOCAL_PORT.


    Once connected and logged in, if the proxy and the tunnel are working correctly, you've got completely unfiltered web access.

    (NB: Using a SOCKS5-compliant proxy would offer an almost completely unfiltered and unmonitored connection, as long as the application supported SOCKS proxies.)

    2) SSH Tunneling Through HTTP
    Some implementations allow only HTTP access, while blocking all other ports.
    Check out Corkscrew at

    Corkscrew is a tool to allow full SSH access through a strict HTTPS session. Then through the SSH access, you can create another tunnel to allow access to all other programs.

    Hopefully this allows some of the people out there to worry a little less about getting caught doing things they're not supposed to. The reason for using SSH in both cases is because it's encrypted. In the event you are caught, at least you're only caught for breaking teh rules, there's nothing additionally criminalizing.

    SSH can also be used for a lot more interesting things. Using Windows, you can instal Cygwin, ssh into a *Nix box and tunnel over X connections, and end up working as if you were actually at the machine.

    Anyways, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

  • Triangle Boy (Score:4, Informative)

    by maxconfus ( 522536 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:22AM (#3651863)
    Triangle Boy is one of the methods Chinese surfers are using to get around the 'Great Fire Wall' of China.
    Here is the gist of the free program.
    Anybody who downloads triangle boy gives the ability to secretly lend his or her Internet address to users behind restricted firewalls. That, in turn, hands such users the electronic keys they need to receive unfettered access to the Web.

  • by BenHmm ( 90784 ) <ben@benhammers[ ].com ['ley' in gap]> on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:45AM (#3651982) Homepage
    Read some of Hannah Arendt []. She is one proponent of the, now classic, J-Curve Theory of Rising and Declining Satisfaction.

    The idea, basically, is that all is well until the public's expectation for change becomes greater than the rate of change allowed by the government. When that happens, you get a revolution.

    This is why Reform is so dangerous to totalitarian regimes - it's not the reform itself, but the rate of reform that does the 'damage'. Gorbachev wanted to reform the USSR's Communist Party - but he went too slowly, the people's expectations got too high, and the Berlin Wall fell.

    The same is happening in China, and not just in the Internet-space. Economic reform almost caused a revolution - which manifested inself in the Tiananmen Square protests - because it was percievd as going too slowly, and NOT because the Chinese wanted the supposed end result of a Western-Style liberal democracy.

    It's actually the process of change that people want, and not the end result. (which is good, as it means we have things like, you know, Progress).
  • by rhadamanthus ( 200665 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:56AM (#3652055)
    Thank you for making this very important point. To put numbers to this argument, note that:

    Of all the interesting statistics, the most important is that the number of TV stations, magazines, and media outlets over all has increased tremendously, all the while being more consolidated then ever before. This strikes me as surprising. The illusion of diversity in literature and media is rather frightening. In 1947, 80 percent of daily newspapers were independent; in 1989 that number had shrunk to 20 percent. In 1981, the 11,000 or so magazines were owned by 20 companies, but as of 1988 that number had fallen to three. Books are the same, being controlled by seven major firms. This is not to say that no other sources of information exist, just that the concentration shows no sign of slowing down. Which should strike you as disconcerting.

    Likewise, music is controlled by 5 large groups, representing 84 percent of the US market. (yes, the RIAA) Radio has 60 percent of its content controlled by 3 broadcast groups. And again in movies: In 1985, the 12 largest theater owners had 25 percent of the screens, as of 1998, that figure was about 61 percent and rapidly increasing. The 6 top firms by this point accounted for 90 percent of overall theater revenue. Not surprisingly, 132 out of the 148 "widely distributed" movies in 1997 had deals with these 6 vendors. This also explains the drop in foreign films, from 10 percent in the mid 1970s to 0.5 percent in the 90s.

    Again, in broadcasting, 6 firms control 80 percent of the nations TV and cable, and 75 percent of its content. To summarize, Professor Ben Bagdikian wrote, "despite more than 25,000 outles in the US, 23 corporations control most of the business in newspapers, magazines, books and movies." The top six, FYI, make more revenue than the next 20 combined.

    One hardly needs evidence to notice that such heavy concentration of power, (in this case, information) results inherently in bias. Witness the pro-american rhetoric seething from current media and the "anti-terrorist" news reports that for all we know may be made up.

    The most saddening thing is that the Internet was specifically designed to prevent concentration of information. It was built to promote the free-flow of any idea or voice. But its being swept away in a tidal wave of corporate lobbying and associated legislation, as well as patriotic/moralist/ideological campaigns to stomp out "opposing" viewpoints. Criticize china all you want for their "information suppresion". We are no better, we just don't see it. Apathy and hypocrisy go hand in hand....


  • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:09AM (#3652130) Homepage
    Obviously, the Orwellian Prophecy has come partially true in this part of the world.

    It wasn't a prophecy and the comparison to the West, in particular the relationship of the UK and the US was quite deliberate.

    Orwell's objective was to make people realise that the USSR was a totalitarian regime and Stalin a tyrant. This was not something that many people wanted to hear in 1948 just after the Russians had done most of the fighting to stop Hitler. The Nazi-Soviet pact had been largely forgotten by this time.

    1984 is full of ironic and sarcastic references to the BBC where Orwell (Eric Blair) worked during the war, manipulating truth in exactly the same way that Smith does. Two majot themes in the book are the erasure of history (suppression of the Nazi-Soviet pact) and the shifting aliances between the 3 great powers.

    Incidentally Orwell was not anti-socialist, he was anti-communist. He was a member of the Labour party and wrote the 1945 Labour manifesto.

  • Re:P2P news clients? (Score:2, Informative)

    by dajt ( 39633 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:21AM (#3652179)
    Err, it's currently implemented using NNTP. It used to be implemented with UUCP and analog modems. Remember the Telebit Trailblazer?
  • by elflord ( 9269 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:42AM (#3652320) Homepage
    If this theory is meant to be taken literally, then it is an insult to the Russian people. They aren't that stupid, nor ignorant, at least those that I know in Moscow and StPetersburg. Even many years before the fall of Russian Communism many Russians were well aware about the world outside Russia and the failings of their political system.

    It seems fairly clear to me that this is more of a catchy slogan than something that is intended to be taken literally. It encapsulates an important concept though -- it's not enough for "many" Russians to be aware of the failings of the system to bring about change -- the average guy on the street has to see it, and preferably experience it first hand-- it's not really enough to read about it, because even if you're "aware", you will probably not get angry or otherwise excited about something that seems so distant. You feel it so much more if it's rubbed in your face. McDonalds symbolises a first-hand exposure to Western culture, and the relative failings of their own system, as experienced by the common man (as opposed to pontifications on the failings of the system by an academic elite)

  • Triangle Boy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Artifice_Eternity ( 306661 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @12:33PM (#3653065) Homepage
    The CIA's venture capital company, In-Q-Tel, has funded a project called Triangle Boy: []

    This CNN article from Feb. 2001 talks a little about it. But at that time it supposedly hadn't been deployed. Since then I've heard that Chinese Internet users are using Triangle Boy for secure connections to the outside world, bypassing the government firewalls.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 06, 2002 @12:35PM (#3653086)
    I was in an Internet place in Yunnan a while ago. The shop had large official posters pasted on the wall setting out the obligations of the managers (register each user's id, don't gab with friends, check the computer when a user's finished, give a receipt, etc, etc) and the obligations of the users (one user to a terminal, no smoking, no shouting, no pornography, etc, etc).

    In fact, the place was a smoke-filled madhouse, with two or three users at each terminal screaming back and forth, the manager had to be pried away from his friends to find me a seat, I was never asked for id and no surprise I didn't get a receipt when I paid.

    The point is that this is what China is really like -- lots of rules and regulations upfront but everyone instinctively knows most are for show and ignore them. Of course, that's "most" not "all" and some how some way Chinese seem to know which rules are for real.

    Internet shops have now spread to almost every town in China; price is a fairly uniform 2RMB/hour, about 25 cents US, and they're crowded all day and night. In many places, the settings are locked, so it's not easy to set up a proxy server or clean the cache and history unless you've got your own machine. It's also true that in the past month, for some reason, many foreign sites that were blocked have become available.
  • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @01:23PM (#3653394) Homepage
    Hate to break it to you - but the ideas of the west provided a source of inspiration to the peoples of Iron Cutain.

    If it is ideas that you want to measure then remember that Karl Marx wrote Das Capital in the Reading room of the British Library.

    What you appear to be unable to grasp is that whatever was done from the outside had mush less effect than what went on on the inside. The attempt by the idiotic right to claim the credit for destroying the Soviet Union is pure self delusion. The people of Eastern Europe took their own freedom, whatever we did amounted to a small effect on the margins.

    That is why there has been little change in the example you cite - Saudi Arabia and Eastern Africa. Those areas have been exposed to Western ideas for far longer than Russia ever was, including the experience of British colonial rule.

    The BBC World Service is certainly an effective propaganda tool. I can't say the same for Voice of America which is all propaganda all the time and about as interesting to listen to as Radio Moscow was and for about the same reason.

    If you want to effect change then there are much more effective ways to do so than by puffing yourself up with self importance. The US claim to be the torchbearer of human rights is not generally accepted in the rest of the world. The practice of seggragation was only recently abolished in the south, during the cold war the US regularly conived to replace democratically elected regimes with brutal murderers who would do Washington's bidding. It is a great pity that the current administration cheered on the attempted coup in Venezuela rather than condemning it instantly as the rest of the free world did.

  • by rsmah ( 518909 ) <> on Thursday June 06, 2002 @02:04PM (#3653605)
    The vast majority of Chineese people live in rural areas and are utterly uneducated. Only a relative few live in or near cities and have any sort of education or access to the internet in the first place.

    This statement is indicative of western ignorance of modern China.

    The literacy rate in China is 81.5% [CIA WorldFactbook], which when you consider the difficulty of memorizing 10's of thousands of ideograms is pretty good. There are over 11 mil university students in China right now, which means roughly 15% of people go on to university.

    Second, agriculture represents only 15% of the chinese economy (50% industry and 35% services) [CIA WorldFactbook]. While apx. 50% of the population is still rural (far higher than in the US) that's far from "the vast majority".

    Third, in 1990, China had 102 cities with populations over 1 million [UN Statistics Division] and probably a lot more today given China's rapid urbanization (which creates a lot of problems). In fact, as many people (apx. 210 mil in 1990) live in China's "large" (1mil+) cities as in the entire United States.

    China is, of course, still relatively poor compared to the US and Western Europe. And large regions of western China are still underdeveloped. Given income levels, it is no suprise that that only a small percentage use the Internet (it's not suprising that A/C's, TV's and other modern conveniences are purchased first). But we should try to update outdated views of China as we start the 21st century.

  • They can (Score:3, Informative)

    by lanren ( 458290 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @05:34PM (#3655323)
    I'm a Chinese, currently in the U.S. When some time ago slashdot posted a story about a Chinese linux company didn't publish their source code there are a lot of discussion in Chinese linux community so I know they can read slashdot. The reason you don't see many Chinese people here is probably because most slashdot stories and discussions are more about politics than technology, or technology that is too far away for average Chinese people. And the general air here is not very Chinese-friendly (my personal view, of course). If you really want to check out the linux community in China, here's a link:, it's in Chinese, good luck!

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford