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Censorship The Internet Your Rights Online

Canadians To Douse Chinese Firewall 342

FrenchyinOntario writes "Researchers at a University of Toronto lab are getting ready to release a computer program called Psiphon, which will allow Internet users in free countries to help users in more restrictive countries (like China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, etc.) to access the Internet by getting past the firewalls and getting around "rubber hose cryptoanalysis" which is a drawback of other anti-firewall programs as it reveals a user's tracks if discovered by authorities. Operating through port 443, Psiphon will allow users in monitoring countries the ability to send an encrypted request for certain information, and for users in secure countries to send it back to them. The UofT's Citizen Lab hopes to debut Psiphon at the international congress of the free speech group PEN in May."
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Canadians To Douse Chinese Firewall

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  • by Leknor ( 224175 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @12:36AM (#14730018)
    How is this better than Tor: http://tor.eff.org/ [eff.org] or just an HTTP Proxy that supports CONNECT for SSL traffic?
    • Wow no kidding. Support The onion router. There is no need to fragment support for these projects when excellent ones are already in place.

    • by Jherek Carnelian ( 831679 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @12:43AM (#14730050)
      This sounds like it is a rewriting proxy - you request a page, say www.yahoo.com by using the URL:

      https://psiphonat.myfriend.com/http://www.yahoo.co m/ [myfriend.com]

      and then proxy re-writes all URLs in the document to be of that same form so that clicks will automagically go through the psiphon proxy.

      How is this better than Tor: http://tor.eff.org/ [eff.org]

      I would tell you, but my corporate firewall won't allow access to that website.

      or just an HTTP Proxy that supports CONNECT for SSL traffic?

      Because people may be forced to use a proxy just to get outside of the firewall. You can't chain proxies, at least not with normal web browsers.
      • I would tell you, but my corporate firewall won't allow access to that website.

        What does that have to do with anything, your company will probably block myfriend.com soon, but they havn't because it's new.
    • Actually, it seems worse than tor. As far as I know, with tor, you don't have to trust a specific machine -- you just need to trust that most of the machines that are acting as onion routers are legit. By the sound of this system, you are linking with a specific machine, and there is nothing to stop the Chinese embassy in Canada from pretending to be a trusted server...
      • As far as I know, with tor, you don't have to trust a specific machine

        They claim it is a feature - that you have to have a relationship - like an immigrated family member - with the owner of the system. That should reduce abusive uses to about zero, which should make it a lot more palatable for regular people to run, and a lot simpler, than an onion router system.
        • And how might you aquire this relationship? thorugh e-mail, which china moniters; through the postal mail, which I am sure the Chinese government could moniter well enough. I don't see how you would gain a relationship when the chinese government can moniter and disrupt messages that would lead to that relationship.
      • by Phleg ( 523632 ) <stephen@touset. o r g> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @01:14AM (#14730169)
        I could be wrong, but in a case like this, the Tor system might actually be worse; normal Tor operation says that you only have to trust that most of the nodes are legit onion routers. However, in the case of China, I believe that you need to trust that the first node is legit. Why? Because if that first node is the Chinese embassy or another node owned by China, and your IP is coming from a Chinese netblock, then your secrecy is blown.

        At least with this system, you're encouraged to form a relationship of trust with the node you're communicating with.
        • by chato ( 74296 ) <[lc.otahc] [ta] [otahc]> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:44AM (#14730914) Homepage
          ... in the case of China, I believe that you need to trust that the first node is legit
          It doesn't matter if the first node is not legit. First, you can deny that you originated the traffic, as you can be relying packets for other Tor nodes. Second, the route changes every 10 minutes.

          China's internet censorship [wikipedia.org] works at several levels. It includes content-based filtering (banned terms [businessweek.com] in the text of what you are sending, including "human rights", "democracy" and "Dalai Lama"), so any attempt to bypass the filtering has to be encrypted. It also includes DNS-based filtering so some DNS lookups return the wrong IP addresses, and of course it also includes IP-based filtering that prevent Chinese users from accessing the BBC or Wikipedia, for instance.

          Tor [eff.org] can be very effective at bypassing most of these protections, and you can choose to run it on port 443 (https) to avoid port-based filtering. Also, you can limit the amount of bandwidth you want to donate to other nodes, and the default outgoing policy prevents connections to port 25 so you can't use a Tor node for sending spam.

          On the client side, using SwitchProxy [mozilla.org] for FireFox is helpful to maintain a list of proxies, including a local Tor instance, that works as a SOCKS proxy, and a list of open proxies [google.com] (SwitchProxy can automatically change proxy every X seconds).
    • Tor has so much more going for it.

      Open source.
      Allows hidden services.
      Supports any protocol using TCP/IP.
      Perfect forward secrecy.

      And lots of other stuff that I won't even go on about. A one hop proxy is just a bad idea for being anonymous. Tor is a much better answer.

      If you've never heard of Tor then go read up on it at Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].
    • I agree. This is just a fancy Proxy. This isn't that great of an idea. Now the chinese will know who to arrest and or kill, by monitoring logs for port 443 access attempts. and for the people that are going to say "Just because it's anonymous doesn't mean the person committed a crime", things are much different in china. The entire internet infrastructure is controlled by the government, so I don't see why they couldn't block the port completely, or even develop a protocol aware firewall that would blo
  • People still care (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daddyrief ( 910385 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @12:37AM (#14730021) Homepage
    It's good to see that human kindness hasn't been completely lost in the internet age.
  • Reaction? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sneetch ( 953357 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @12:40AM (#14730034)
    While it makes me feel good to hear about this... won't the censoring nations have something to say about an organized and publicised effort to help their citizens break the law?
    • by fishmonkey ( 301785 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @01:38AM (#14730244) Journal
      While it makes me feel good to hear about this... won't the censoring nations have something to say about an organized and publicised effort to help their citizens break the law?

      fuck them
      • Seriously, what are they going to do? It's like the **AA trying to shut down thepiratebay - as much as they'd like to think so, they have absolutely no jurisdiction outside of the United States. Likewise, the most China would be able to do is punish their own citizens if they're caught (and with well over a billion, I think the odds would be in your favor); they can't do a darned thing about not liking what Canada is up to. Well, no legal action anyways, I'm sure they could start an embargo or some other
    • Re:Reaction? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ihatewinXP ( 638000 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:36AM (#14730884)
      I am actually reading this froim China right now - and im kind of surprised.

      The censors are always shutting things down. /. hasnt been blocked totally but discussions and linked articles have.

      I agree with the sentiments that publishing these ideas are a double edged sword. Its good to inform and have things coming from enough sources to get to the people and bypass the censors but it does give the gov. a heads up.

      We will see. Or maybe yuou guys will and I wont ;)
    • by PinkyDead ( 862370 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @06:50AM (#14731254) Journal
      ...do we think the Chinese Government are stupid?

      Over the past number of years we have seen a liberalisation of trade and a continuing move towards a free market economy - China style.

      We have seen with the fall of the Soviet Union, democracy and free market economics overnight is extremely painful and possible dangerous - at times it was touch and go there (maybe still is).

      China is a really big place with lots of people, a similar shift would probably be catastrophic for China and for the world at large. It takes a long time to turn a big ship.

      Same must be true for the application of democratic principles.

      Tiananmen Square etc was a wake-up call for the Chinese government. Yes, it was 15 years ago, but that's a blink of an eye in geopolitics.

      The writing is sort of on the wall - 'democracy' is really inevitable. And slowly the ship will turn. It will probably turn to its own course, and Chinese style democracy will be the very interesting outcome (if you think the democracy you live in is the only kind then you are well wrong).

      To the /. folks: You and I know that systems can be hacked, and you can be sure that there are fair few Chinese doing that right now - breaking through the censorship and reading what the rest of the world is at; and you can be damn sure that the Chinese Government is fully aware of this - they're not stupid.

      This kind of access might only be available to a small few - but it will be available. It's like a dam with a small leak - a huge crack would be disasterous, and the dam would crumble. But a small leak - that works.

      Watch this space...

  • Six/Four? (Score:5, Informative)

    by slavemowgli ( 585321 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @12:41AM (#14730037) Homepage
    This has already been done: Six/Four [sourceforge.net]
  • Censorship (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mark_MF-WN ( 678030 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @12:42AM (#14730042)
    Wasn't there talk sometime back about the US government directly providing means for people living in censorship-ridden nations to bypass their national firewalls? Whatever became of that?

    Private initiatives like this are cool and all (and have proven very effective in the past), but it would be nice to see our governments taking a much stronger stand regarding free-speech. Free speech is the absolute foundation of democracy and freedom.

    • Re:Censorship (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 0-9a-f ( 445046 ) <drhex0x06@poztiv.com> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @02:05AM (#14730328) Homepage

      An interesting op-ed piece [timesonline.co.uk] I read today suggested that this is a war between Freedom and Fundamentalism. As we are seeing with the current Congressional Hearing involving Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc, Capitalism doesn't much care either way for Freedom or Fundamentalism, but is calculated solely on risk and reward - even if you purport to "do no evil". To look at Western politics around the world, and more topically the effects of those Danish cartoons which are not being published, most people don't have much of an opinion here either.

      As has been said here previously, free speech only continues to exist when people exercise it. There is much uninformed opinion in the world, and even our leaders are increasingly elected on the basis of limited amounts of tightly controlled information. Does this lead us closer to Freedom and Democracy?

      The Fundamentalist has a narrow agenda, is easily inflamed, readily invokes fear to reinforce their message, and has little respect for all who disagree. Those who favour Freedom will always suffer at the hands of Fundamentalists - Freedom is Fundamentalism's single worst enemy, and the uninformed Free will happily trade minor freedoms for any illusion of security against perceived threats. Against this slow but steady onslaught, Freedom's only weapon is exercising available freedoms - even to risk one's own life if necessary.

      While it is the duty of the Free to selflessly attempt to liberate the oppressed, Capitalism guides us to minimise risk now and build short-term rewards. In the face of rising global Fundamentalism (whether Christian or Muslim, Capitalist or Socialist), Freedom dies by a thousand cuts.

      It will do us all good to see more fearless initiatives like this one from Canada.

      • I'm sympathetic to this viewpoint, but don't statements like "it is the duty of the Free to selflessly attempt to liberate the oppressed" reek of cultural imperialism? Should we in North America try to liberate the French from their laws against publishing even the most transparent, ridiculous falsehoods regarding Holocaust denial? Should the French try to liberate us from our own oppressive values derived from and informed by Christian fundamentalism? Certainly it's within the rights of all to try, but in
        • Re:Censorship (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Bullard ( 62082 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @07:54AM (#14731441) Homepage
          While the major western powers have plenty of warts, hypocrisy and suspect agendas, you are rather misguided in trying to compare them to the regime in China.

          "in what sense is our protection of free speech in the West categorically superior to the prevailing Chinese attitude that censorship may sometimes be necessary in order to preserve culture and maintain social order(?)"

          Are you not aware that the Chinese regime has, since their invasion of Tibet in 1950, systematically destroyed all aspects of Tibetan life: Tibetan national identity, unique Tibetan language and script, unique Tibetan buddhism... not to mention turning Tibet into a giant Chinese nuclear missile site and nuclear dumping ground, ripping off Tibetan natural resources and promoting Chinese migration into Tibet, turning Tibetans into a rightless and stateless minority in their own country!? Preserving culture?? Maintaining social order?? While a large number of ethnic Chinese may find the CCP's dictatorship and the accompanying censorship as an acceptable tradeoff for being finally able to engage in "bourgeouis" activities, at least their party-approved mainstream culture hasn't been under systematic eradication since the end of the "Cultural Revolution" around 1976. If the majority is willing to remain under dictatorial rule and not care about the rights of others or the imprisonment and torture of innocent freedom-caring people at the hands of their regime, even that could be argued to be their right. Chinese accepting to live under Chinese mob rule.

          However their regime nor the Chinese as a nation have absolutely no right to hold their neighboring Tibetan and Uigur nations under brutal Chinese military occupation with the "Final Solution" looming close to those oppressed non-Chinese peoples.

          ... laws against publishing even the most transparent, ridiculous falsehoods regarding Holocaust denial ...

          OK. Think for moment about the French, and then spare a moment for the Tibetans who are guaranteed to face imprisonment and quite likely torture as well for simply speaking against the ongoing Holocaust in Tibet, or just saying "Tibet should be free again"! In China, the regime has "laws" (and plain all-pervasive and ruthless paramilitary machine) that severely punish people for challenging in any way the regime's most transparent and ridiculous falsehoods denying the ongoing Holocaust...!

          Should cultures which allow such things to take place be respected?

          Are we obligated to "liberate" China's citizens from their cultural taboos against desiring privacy?

          I'm curious, but what "cultural taboos" do the Chinese people have against desiring privacy?

    • No government is going to come out openly and say "let's help the oppressed masses in China evade government censorship." It's too bad for business. It's sickening to see how every value fades away once confronted with the prospect of an incredibly rich potential market.
  • by patrickclay ( 898576 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @12:49AM (#14730081) Homepage
    1. Block activity on port 443
    2. Opress
  • by JakartaDean ( 834076 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @12:51AM (#14730087) Journal
    Let's see. While the Chinese are unlikely to block port 443, they could monitor sites for which the percentage of 443 vs. port 80 https requests exceeds a reasonable threshhold.

    But, it seems that I need to communicate with someone in China first, and offer my computer up to them, and then we both need to install something on our computers, and I give him a userid and password.

    Isn't this just too clunky to work?
  • neat tech, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, 2006 @01:00AM (#14730119)
    There will always be ways for dedicated and savy people to get through firewalls for purposes such as this. However, on the large scale, it does little to affect the access to censored information by the public in general.
  • by coopaq ( 601975 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @01:02AM (#14730130)
    All your wires and doohickies!

    Back in my day if we wanted freedom we had to shoot someone in the face. Twice.

    Now sometimes we do it for fun. -DC

  • cool (Score:3, Funny)

    by Kyro ( 302315 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @01:02AM (#14730132)
    Cool! Soon I'll be able to access suicide-related content in Australia!
  • by Comatose51 ( 687974 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @01:03AM (#14730138) Homepage
    A drawback to Psiphon is that the person behind the firewall has to be given a user name and password by the person offering up the computer. With this kind of setup, Mr. Villeneuve said, activists may end up working with specific dissidents and people in repressive countries may rely on relatives abroad to help them get connected. Canadians, with ties to every country in the world, are in a particularly good position to use such a system.

    So what happens if the person who you gave access to does something illegal (child porn for example)? Does the host become responsible, legally and/or morally? Unlike a general, open, free for all access, this individual approach appears to shift more of the responsibility onto the host, who may not be in a good position to make such a judgment. The program apparently has some facilities for doing forensics on the traffic, which then shift even more of the responsibility onto the host. I guess when you're trying to fight a repressive regime, you should be prepared to take on some heavy responsibilities. Kudos to those who are willing to do so.

    • So what happens if the person who you gave access to does something illegal (child porn for example)?

      If the person is in china and attempting to access information that has been censored by the chinese government it doesn't matter if it's kiddie porn or pictures of last year's freedom rally, that person is already breaking the law.

      You either accept that censorship of speech is tantamount to enforcement of thought crimes - and resist such tyranny in all its forms even when it offends your delicate western ch
    • Canada, is considerably more liberal about freedom of speech than the U.S.

      Child pornography might be associated with jail time but more likely with psychological evaluation.

      I'd like to think they can distinguish pedophiles...
  • Would it be apropos to say, "Up your nose with a rubber hose!" to China now? (Come on you 30-something Slashdotters, surely you remember Welcome Back Kotter? It was a formative experience like JJ Walker's "Dynomite!")
  • by Veovis ( 612685 ) * on Thursday February 16, 2006 @01:16AM (#14730176)
    and its available at http://www.peacefire.org/ [peacefire.org]
  • by Baricom ( 763970 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @01:18AM (#14730184)
    I'd just like to say that I would mod samzenpus funny for the best Slashdot department in recent memory, if I were able.

    Thanks for the chuckle :)
  • by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <`gro.uaeb' `ta' `sirromj'> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @01:36AM (#14730239)
    My complaint with this scheme, and Tor, is that they are essentially open proxies. Anyone who has ever had the misfortune to pooch the acl lines on a Squid and leave it running a bit will know what happens next. One day you notice your bandwidth pegged at max and you scramble to fix it.
  • to access the Internet by getting past the firewalls and hosing "rubber hose cryptoanalysis"

    Those Canadians [geocities.com] are a bunch of hosers, eh?

  • by DeveloperAdvantage ( 923539 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @01:49AM (#14730278) Homepage
    As a Canadian, although I do sympathize with those in China trying to get around their censorship, I am concerned with one country developing a tool with the explicit stated goal of trying to undermine an internal regulation of another country. In effect, it provides the user with information which is not allowed in their own country.

    What would the Canadian government think if people in countries with different drug laws started intentionally mailing their drugs, which they consider legal, into Canada? Better yet, what would Canada think if such an action was sponsored by the government of the offending country (Psiphon is coming out of a publicly funded university in Canada).

    As another example, currently a hot topic up here is gun violence. Many of the guns get into Canada from the US, where the gun laws are not as strict. Certainly, and rightfully so, the Canadian government would be offended if the US government funded a program with the goal of getting more guns into Canada.

    I agree both drugs and guns *can* be much more harmful than information, but if the consequence of having that information is jail sentence in a Chinese prison, then enabling them to access it is something that should not be taken lightly.
    • As a Canadian too, I can see where you're coming from. You essentially have two arguments: 1. Cultural/Political relativism, and 2. the person might be jailed if he/she was found using this type of program to circumvent the great firewall.

      For 2, I think people who're going to use this type of program will already know full well what the program's intended purpose is, and what the consequences could be. If they still choose to use it, then it is their freewill, and they (should) fully accept the consequenc
    • Similar efforts have been going on for years. During the Cold War, radio was a popular way to undermine totalitarian regimes. Radio Free Europe [rferl.org] still exists. Several Christian missionary organizations (e.g. TWR [twr.org]) use the same strategy. The same is done with (satellite) television.
      Regimes respond by banning the offending receivers (satellite dishes are banned in Saudi Arabia, radio receivers are limited to government-approved frequencies in North Korea), or by using jammers. I don't recall hearing about offic
    • by DanielJosphXhan ( 779185 ) <scatterfingers.work@gma i l . com> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @09:33AM (#14731886)
      As a Canadian myself, I would like to note that the parent poster is patent product of our paternal sociopolitical society.

      So much so, in fact, that he can't tell the difference between free speech and free drugs (that is to say, basic rights and freebasing). Which worries me.

      It's not enough simply to excercise your own increasingly limited rights in such a beautifully softspoken manner, while being careful not to tread on the feet of oppressive regimes around the world.

      If you stand for freedom--not the flag-waving, foaming-at-the-mouth Americanised version, but actual speech-in-the-wind freedom--you stand for it everywhere, and you aid it everywhere, governments and institutions be damned.
    • Um, where does one begin? Well, I imagine most people would argue that free speech is a basic human right; it's certainly included in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which China itself signed up to:

      http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html [un.org]

      "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

      It doesn't appear to mention dr
  • Peekabooty (Score:3, Informative)

    by bitspotter ( 455598 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @02:13AM (#14730367) Journal
    Peek-a-booty [peek-a-booty.org] is also aimed at helping those in speech-embattled nations avoid censoring firewalls.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @02:15AM (#14730375) Homepage
    Unclear if this is related, but some of the biggest "bulletproof hosting" services just dropped off the net. "blackboxhosting.com", the high profiile spammer hosting service located in China, just disappeared. A few other notorious names are gone, too. "specialham.com" and "spamforum.biz", discussion boards for spammers, are gone. "cheapbulletproof.com", also in China, is gone. You can find all of these sites in Google's cache, but they're all offline today.

    There's definitely been some kind of purge since February 5th, when many of these were up.

  • by ikioi ( 198093 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @02:36AM (#14730470)
    Many people are asking, "How is this any better than somesite.com, a normal anonymizing proxy?"
    The difference is that this is a piece of software which runs on an individual person's computer.
    This is more like peer-to-peer than it is like 50,000 people using a well know proxy.

    The Chinese government can easily go to google and search for well known anonymizing proxies
    and block access to them. What the govt can't do, is find out every IP address on the internet
    running this software and block it. The downside of this software is that Chinese users must have
    a friend on the outside to run the software, but the upside is that it's vastly less likely that the
    Chinese government will be capable of blocking access to it.
  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @02:39AM (#14730482)
    They are truly defenders of truth, justice, and the Ameri...

    Oh, wait. we might have to revise this.
  • Some guys wrote a joe-sixpack friendly http proxy with ssl.
  • Programs and mechanisms to bypass the firewall and ease the flow of information already exist in abundance. The problem is that each of these mechanisms fail due to net congestion, because there aren't enough servers to assist in the liberation of internet users in the filter regimes.

    So called freedom nations could easily assist in this, if they really had the will to combat the filter regimes. But they won't. Because that would escalate into a foreign policy crisis, since these regimes would consider such
  • If it travels over port 443, the ports need to be configurable!

    You can be certain the Chinese firewalls will just start to block 443 and ban encrypted http... What have they got to lose!?
  • team america? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dartarrow ( 930250 )
    before we police the world, lets see how americans themselves sometimes ask for censorship - though be it self-censorship - as it is written here. [bbc.co.uk]

    I see this report as America admitting that sometimes, censorship is a prerequisite to peace. And not all news is acceptable in all places at all times.

    In relations to this project however, my worry is how this would affect diplomacy.
  • Moral absolutism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pomo monster ( 873962 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @03:18AM (#14730628)
    The following anonymous comment currently sits at -1, Troll: "Have you ever considered that it's a bit ethnocentric to try to 'save' Chinese from their own conservative culture? ... The fact is that most Chinese support censorship."

    I didn't write the above (though feel free to disbelieve me), but I know I've struggled with the same question. It's quite true that the CCP's efforts to protect China's conservative values, through censorship, enjoy wide support among the population--just as a majority of French and German citizens support their governments' suppression of Nazi propaganda and Holocaust denial, and arguably rightly so.

    Certainly I personally wouldn't want to live under such a government, but then, apparently a majority of Chinese wouldn't want to live under ours. Who are we to say they're wrong in their desire to be so nannied?

    • just as a majority of French and German citizens support their governments' suppression of Nazi propaganda and Holocaust denial

      Dude, I don't want to be rude, but what have you been smoking? Holocaust denial??? If any countries in the world claim it happened and teach it in schools (I remember seeing quite "impressive" movies about it in school when I was around 16), it is France and Germany!

      As far as Nazi propangada goes though, it's just the same as these "speeches with the goal to induce racial hatr

      • I believe that was intended to be parsed as:

        ...support their governments' suppression of [Nazi propaganda and Holocaust denial]

        In other words: 1. The French and German governments suppress Nazi propaganda and Holocaust denial. 2. These countries' citizens support this suppression.
    • The fact is that most Chinese support censorship

      You call that a fact? Thanks to that censorship, we'll never know for sure, will we?
      This reminds me of those 'elections' that were popular in Communist states, where the single candidate always ended up with 100% of the votes.

      Who are we to say they're wrong in their desire to be so nannied?

      It's not as if the Chinese have a lot to choose under the current regime. And a popular revolt isn't likely, given the results the last time it happened (Mao rose to power)
      • Re:Moral absolutism (Score:4, Interesting)

        by 808140 ( 808140 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @06:20AM (#14731176)
        Tiananmen square was not a "popular revolt", try reading more about it. (There were two main groups protesting together: the students, who wanted more and faster reforms, and the workers, who had been harmed by the reforms and wanted less of them; they hung out together in the square and sang the Internationale together before they were shot at. It's not as simple as Western propaganda makes it out to be.) And I can tell you that as a freedom-loving American who lives in China, the vast majority of normal Chinese I speak to are against the free press (unless they work in the press), because they believe that there are some things they're better off not knowing. It's infuriatingly frustrating.

        Having said that, I think the reason they believe this is largely due to government propaganda. But the fact remains that they do believe it. The whole mishandling of SARS a few years ago helped some people come around to understanding why a free press is beneficial (it was covered up if you'll recall, resulting in the deaths of many who would have otherwise not died) but the vast majority still feel as though there are things that the government should protect them from.

        Freedom of Speech is not as valued in most of the world as it is in the US (and recently it's not very much valued there, either.)
    • Re:Moral absolutism (Score:3, Interesting)

      by smallpaul ( 65919 )

      It's quite true that the CCP's efforts to protect China's conservative values, through censorship, enjoy wide support among the population--just as a majority of French and German citizens support their governments' suppression of Nazi propaganda and Holocaust denial, and arguably rightly so.

      How can the Chinese people have an informed view of whether the censorship is good if they do not know the scope of the suppression of information? And how can they know the scope if that itself is a subject of cens

    • Re:Moral absolutism (Score:3, Interesting)

      by npsimons ( 32752 )

      Certainly I personally wouldn't want to live under such a government, but then, apparently a majority of Chinese wouldn't want to live under ours. Who are we to say they're wrong in their desire to be so nannied?

      I can understand and appreciate your argument, but it becomes a problem when someone living under the Chinese government *doesn't* want to be nannied. Then the question(s) become: shouldn't this person be allowed to live somewhere else where the government is more in line with their values? why s

  • by Baloo Ursidae ( 29355 ) <dead@address.com> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @03:42AM (#14730720) Journal
    Rubber-hose cryptoanalysis [ursine.ca] in The Jargon Wiki [ursine.ca]
  • *cough* (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Metex ( 302736 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @03:52AM (#14730751) Homepage
    Operating through port 443 ... Blocking port 443.
  • The leafer's are kicking our eagle's ass up and down the constitution.
  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:26AM (#14730849) Homepage Journal
    As much as I am a friend of free speech, I don't forget that we live in countries that had a few centuries to adapt to the concept, and it was far from painless. From the french revolution to the american independence war, and a hundred smaller clashes.

    We forget so often that the chinese government isn't stupid, and maybe not even evil. They have reasons for why they do what they do. You may disagree with the reasons, of course. But let's not forget that preventing large-scale civil unrest is among them. Maybe they are right, maybe they are wrong. But are you ready to gamble a few million lives on that?

    The french revolution took maybe 100,000 lives (40k alone went to the guillotine), in a country of about 40 mio. people. Now imagine the body count in a 1200 mio. people country. Add modern firearms and tanks. 3 mio.? 4 mio.? maybe 5 mio. people could die during an all-china civil unrest.

    If the chinese leaders are wrong, they are oppressive tyrants who've killed thousands. But if the free speech advocates are wrong, they are rebellion initiators with millions of dead on their consciousness.

    China is moving towards more freedom, though at glacial speeds. That is probably too slow. But the demands of the western world for essentially immediate total freedom are very certainly too much, too fast. Change needs time, and a look into our own history books would tell us what the stakes are.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.