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Censorship The Internet

How to Dodge the Chinese Internet Censor 119

eweekhickins writes "A report written by a tech worker in China describes the pervasive censorship, abetted by ample manpower and funding estimated at $27 billion in US dollars. The author, who calls himself Mr. Tao, also writes that plenty of Chinese are finding ways to resist censorship, and offers tips on how to keep evading Big GeGe (that's Older Brother). Not surprisingly, self-censorship is very prevalent. Also not surprisingly, the authorities are starting to catch on to things like RSS feeds. It's another race for survival between the tiny mammals and the lumbering dinosaurs." Here's Mr. Tao's report (PDF), written under the auspices of Reporters Without Borders.
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How to Dodge the Chinese Internet Censor

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Thursday October 18, 2007 @09:26AM (#21023699)
    What I really don't get is how we always hear about Chinese people trying to break through their Great Firewall and avoid government censorship in order to tell us how it really goes down inside the country, but we hardly ever hear about these atrocities from American, English, and Australian English teachers who go over there for a few years to teach. They come back and tell us about all the fun they had and the great experiences they enjoyed while over there, but never how the government was always breathing down their neck or how they were forced to censor themselves.

    It makes me wonder who those people are who are complaining the loudest (you know: the ones who aren't getting heard). While I have no doubt that there is a significant amount of pro-government propaganda, I wonder if all this bellowing isn't just a bit overly melodramatic.
  • by speaker of the truth ( 1112181 ) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @09:29AM (#21023737)
    I sure hope they're not using Google or Yahoo in their illegal activities, or else Big GeGe just might knock on their door tomorrow night.
  • by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @09:35AM (#21023811)
    If you are paid enough, then any country is pleasant. The locals may have a much tougher time time though: Small living quarters, not enough money for utilities, food, clothing, just scraping by. If you don't have enough money, living is tough everywhere, even in Europe, Canada, USA, Russia, it doen't matter where.
  • Eluding censorship (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @09:36AM (#21023825)
    Well, this section of the report is not too smart.

    Let's tell the powers that be all the ways in which we bypass their censorship so they can close the loopholes.

    What was he thinking?

  • oh wait, that was just banned in britain []

    but seriously, an easy to use, serially updated very small text only guide in every language that would allow your average computer idiot to avoid censorship as quickly and as painlessly as possible. no software, just a simple set of swiss army knife style techniques, everything from as obvious as "safe" sites to visit to low grade OS manipulations to keep yourself anonymous and keep yourself connected to noncensored news

    of course, governments would get their hands on this guide too. it would need to be serially updated. but the old problem of the enemy knowing what you know still leaves a niche of techniques that need to remain common knowledge in heavily censored countries, regardless of governmental knowledge that you know those techniques. some techniques and basic network knowledge are just useful to know no matter what

    the internet anarchist's cookbook?
  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @09:37AM (#21023837)
    I think you have to remember China is a pretty big country with a whole lot of people.

    Most English teachers probably end up in the well populated large cities, where life is a whole lot more westernized whereas I'd imagine a lot of the oppression, human rights violations and such occur more in the outer regions where the sweat shops are and where the Chinese goverment isn't willing to invest in learning English as it is in the major business centres. As you quite rightly point out, plenty of people go to China and come back as English teacher but not only that, think of all the business people and tourists that also go and come back without these tails.

    I could be completely wrong, but again I'd guess it's because the China Westerners see and experience isn't the China that the majority of the Chinese population experience. Beijing is probably the most commonly visited and heard of part of China for Westerners yet it only holds around 13 million of China's 1.3 billion people.
  • by r6144 ( 544027 ) <> on Thursday October 18, 2007 @09:42AM (#21023895) Homepage Journal
    My English teacher has probably signed some sort of agreement that prohibits him from talking about some political or religious topics in classes. Maybe the agreement also asks him not to badmouth the government even after he goes back.

    Anyway, in the excitement of visiting a whole new country for the first time, censorship issues may well appear unimportant to most of these teachers.

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @09:48AM (#21023973)
    Hardly matters. If the Chinese government had a real need to block those techniques, they wouldn't need that report to discover them. A well-rounded programmer or IT pro. could tell them the weaknesses of whatever system is in place. What it really boils down to is that there are not enough people employing these "under the radar" methods for the Chinese government to care. If 50% of the population was using steganography to sneak forbidden messages around, you can bet that with or without this sort of report, the Chinese government would be scrutinizing every image, audio, and video file transferred over their piece of the Internet.
  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @09:54AM (#21024025)
    The Chinese know better than to allow foreigners to see what is really happening. The oldest trick in the dictator book is that, when you are doing something that looks bad in terms of international politics, you don't let people who you don't have jurisdiction over (or won't have jurisdiction over after some period of time) see anything other than smiles. Westerners see advanced technology, clean, white offices, and citizens living normal lives, but ask those English teachers and engineers where they went, and you'll hear the same few locations over and over. Now, examine the rest of the country, and a different picture is painted. It's not just China; the USSR, Nazi Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Iran, various African nations, etc. Foreign visitors don't see prisons or torture, nor do they see the fearful citizens. They see universities, computer centers, engineering design labs, and so on.
  • by Echnin ( 607099 ) <[p3s46f102] [at] []> on Thursday October 18, 2007 @09:58AM (#21024075) Homepage
    Well, we laowai (foreigners) here in China are granted more leeway, and the worst thing that can happen is that you're deported. Torbjørn Færøvik, a Norwegian author who wrote a fairly successful travelogue about a trip he took through China with a lot of commentary on Chinese politics and history comes to mind. I heard him speak at a small lecture in Oslo last year, and he mentioned that the last time he tried to go to China they wouldn't let him in because of what he'd written about the country. Of course they aren't going to do anything to me, a white, foreign student, for talking to someone about Tibetan independence, but if Tibetan monks make a peaceful protest saying the same, they get shot down with AK-47s []. Really, an English teacher's experience in Beijing is not exemplary of how the average Chinese person has it. The CCP would never dare doing anything to a laowai.

    But really, most Chinese are pretty much politically apathetic. The common worker has no time to even think about politics, having to work 14 hours a day just to feed their family. The bloggers are a minority, and the democracy movement here is just too small and unorganized to do anything. But people are in fact scared of saying anything bad about the CCP - every time I try to bring politics up with a taxi driver or whoever they just stop speaking to me. This lack of freedom of speech contributes to make people more complacent, as they don't even know about the Tiananmen protests or the truth of China's role in Tibet.

    But hey, it's damn fun being here as a student!

  • Re:Web Proxies FTW (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kilo_foxtrot84 ( 1016017 ) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @12:13PM (#21026303)
    So what happens if the blocking agent finds that site, and blacklists the whole thing?

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan