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Censorship Government United States Your Rights Online

US Gov't Pushing News Through China's Great Firewall 116

eldavojohn writes "The US government's Broadcasting Board of Governors has revealed in a completed FOIA request the development, testing and planned use of Feed Over E-mail (FOE) to push news through China's firewall. This FOIA request (PDF) indicates that the US government is interested in making sure Chinese people receive up-to-date news, and it wants to expand the arsenal of anti-censorship tools (for news at least). The FOE project is GPLv3 and maintained by Sho Ho of BBG."
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US Gov't Pushing News Through China's Great Firewall

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  • by Nikker ( 749551 ) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @06:08PM (#35113936)
    Does making it FOSS make pushing one countries point of view make it right?
    • by RightwingNutjob ( 1302813 ) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @06:15PM (#35113994)
      OK, let's get this out of the way: if a private citizen advocates for 1) freedom of expression 2) accountability of governments to their citizens and 3) some other basic human rights, and sets up a FOSS software project to advocate these things to people living under statist governments, is it good? If his government does the same thing, is it bad? It's the messenger AND the message that distinguishes good from bad, not just a question of who's doing the talking.
      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        With the government you nowadays have to think if that is ALL they want. It is the same one that is looking at the Internet Kill Switch.
        For all I know, they do it as some sort of test.

        • by phoomp ( 1098855 )
          Exactly my thoughts: at the same time the US government is looking for ways to help Chinese citizens bypass Chinese censorship, the US government also looking for ways to be able to censor US citizens.

        How do I install this thing on my computer? I can't find a download link. Also it says "works on most email servers as long as the user has access to POP3 and SMTP." Does that include yahoo or googlemail?

        • by mikael ( 484 )

          It sounds like something out of the 1980's internet . Back then, many corporate websites didn't have high-speed T1 lines, let alone broadband to access gopher, ftp or USENET. Workers were lucky to get a 64-kbit ISDN link to serve an entire office block. The solution to downloading large files, was to send a Email request to an server, which would in turn ftp the relevant file, chop the file into little chunks and uuencode them to you by E-mail. It would be up to you to reassemble them or to use a suitable E

      • It's only the same thing if that private citizen is suppressing everybody else's views while pushing its own. Is the private citizen also shutting down websites of people with differing views? Or accusing them of rape?
      • I'm puzzled how this works. the description does not make sense to me:

        "FOE is different from the average feed reader in that it's able to fetch content from censored sites without requiring the user to visit those sites to set up the feed. Once FOE fetches the content, it encrypts it and sends it via e-mail much like an attached file. The user's client gets decrypts the feed once it's arrived and displays it on the local machine. Ho adds that FOE should be easy for activists to set up and maintain because

      • I think the problem is other countries are gonna look at us and realize we're full of shit. I watched Glenn Beck the other day and for the first time in history he said something I agree with, and amazingly his so called fellow conservatives were calling him all kinds of things for even daring to say it.

        He said "Look at the people we have been supporting in the third world, does it match up in ANY way with the values we are supposedly for?" Sure we talk a good game about "freedom" and "rights" but then we h

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      To hell with China's rights as a sovereign nation, we are the good guys, we know best. If they did that to us,we would be up in arms ( and rightfully so ), lets hear it for being hypocrites. Go team!

      • Yeah, imagine the repercussions if China were to ever give the rest of the world access to Chinese news.

        • >>>imagine the repercussions

          The nearby Philadelphia station (Megahertz or Link - channel 35.3) plays Chinese news three times a day. Nothing shocking about it. Also Korean, Japanese, French, German, British, and Euro.

        • by mikael ( 484 )

          You mean TV CCTV-4 International, as made available on the Sky network in Europe?

      • If they did what to us, push information through our government mandated internet censorship filters? If China insisted that we should have freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom to assemble? Yeah, we'd be pissed.

        • by phoomp ( 1098855 ) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @07:07PM (#35114332)
          Censorship by the American Government isn't that far fetched of an idea ... if you take the blinders off for a moment. What if the Internet Kill Switch proposal goes through, something happens to make the US government decide to disconnect Americans from the Internet and China offers a tool to help Americans reconnect to the 'Net?
          • If indeed it came to that, I don't think anyone would be terribly offended. In fact, I'm pretty sure the citizenry would be dealing with more immediate problems should the federal government decide to through the First Amendment out the window like that.
          • by Tavor ( 845700 )
            Censorship by the United States Government has already happened once. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedition_Act_of_1918 [wikipedia.org]
            • It's already happened once, in a law passed nearly 100 years ago, and repealed in 1920? Well then, I think they've definitely established a tremendously scary pattern of censoring everything they don't like, both in terms of the frequency of the abuse, and in the severity! This jackbooted thuggery cannot be allowed to stand - Katie bar the door, pass the gunpowder, and PRAISE THE LORD!

              What was it I was reading about in another article about how people have a difficult time comparing the impacts of things

        • It's the Chinese government, they don't want freedom of press or speech because it would make it harder for them to control their own population. The Chinese people might very well want freedom of speech, press and assembly, but they aren't the ones working to keep this out. It is also worthwhile considering that Chinese culture is collectivistic and that it can be a lot harder to get collectivists to go along with the sort of things that it takes to have such a significant course correction.

        • by sznupi ( 719324 )
          Yup, luckily we have Free Speech Zones / cages!
      • This is exactly what I always said about the Nazis! And Pol Pot! And Rwanda! And Haiti (early 90's Haiti... but I suppose humanitarian aid is precluded by steadfast nationalism, too...)!

        Whatever happened to sovereignty, huh?

    • by poity ( 465672 )

      This isn't about pushing a point of view, it's about making tools available to those who want greater breadth of information.

      The government report on the testing said the technology can carry news feeds as well as vital software applications like Tor, which helps Internet users stay anonymous online, and Freegate, which can be used to access blocked Internet content.

    • The US government has done a good job, for a very long time, of producing reasonably unbiased news reporting. In fact it may well be the only country where the government funded news media is prohibited from broadcasting to its own citizens, specifically to prevent the temptation of political manipulation and interference from becoming too great.

      Go right ahead and be righteously indignant, but we all know the track record of the two countries involved, and its hardly debatable whos interests are more in li

    • Does making it FOSS make pushing one countries point of view make it right?

      It's not "pushing" one's POV to make it known to someone who would otherwise be prevented from knowing it.

    • So...the point of view we're "pushing" on China here is that people should be free to read whatever news they want? And you're not ok with that?

      How did this get modded up to +5 Insightful? It's beyond ignorant, it should be +5 Evil.

  • F.O.E. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Emperor BMA ( 554363 ) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @06:16PM (#35113996)
    > The FOE project is GPLv3 and maintained by Sho Ho of BBG.

    Even in your internets... FOE [youtube.com]
  • Damn you Mongolians! Stop breaking my Wall!
  • Just tell them to free up political speech or we'll stop buying their lead-filled shit. Let's stop being pussies.

    • If we stop buying their lead-filled shit, they'll stop buying our shit-filled bonds.

      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        That's what happens when you deal with the devil too long.

        • That was my thinking. We in the US are going to have to stop wasting so much money on defense and start paying down our debt. Realistically the Chinese can't afford to pull out of our bonds any more than we can afford to default on them, however there is also nothing that compels the Chinese to buy our debt instruments other than artificially devaluing the yuan.

        • by sznupi ( 719324 )
          On which side?
    • Yeah! If they don't, they obviously know what we'll do for situations like that. I mean, just look at Egypt!

      I hope those Chinese bastards at the top of the chain of command are ready for all the "No comment" and "We are watching the situation evolve" statements that they can handle. Especially the ones that are managing the $900B in U.S. Debt.

      Granted, I shouldn't forget that Egypt isn't even going to the extremes of censoring the internet, all they did was turn the whole thing off.

    • As much as I like freedom of speech and democracy (real democracy, not the kind where you choose between a few figureheads who then go on to do nothing of what they promised), at this stage of its development dictatorship is probably a good thing in China, it allows them to get things done. India could never do what China is doing with their infrastructure, they'd be tied up in the courts for years.

  • I just had a quick glance at that rather link packed story. The FOE project on Google Code has no obvious surprises. I scanned that PDF of the FOIA request. Who/ what is the entity in the document header: Governmentattic dot org? Sorry, I probably misspelled that.

    There's actually a tradition of this sort of thing, I think. E.g. like listening to the Voice of America on shortwave radio when outside the U.S.A. and starved for English-language news. Although that isn't quite the same as it is our one's own
    • by sznupi ( 719324 )
      Ekhem, if you're starved for English in some random place, you listen BBC World Service ;p

      But generally, isn't the story about... mailing list software?
  • Why is the GPL v3 instead of BSD / public domain?
  • As long as the US is giving information to citizens of other countries, it's anti censorship. But woe-to-him who gives information to US citizens that the rest of the world already knows, thats treason and terrorism, right?
    • by SeNtM ( 965176 )
      +5 Insightful.
    • A freedom fighter is also nothing but a terrorist who won. If you didn't figure out that labels are attached by whoever writes the history books and news, you should maybe do some catching up with reality.

    • The difference being that that information endangered the lives of so many innocent people.

      In fact, here's a list of all of the people who actually died because of those leaks:

  • Isnt it ironic. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @06:57PM (#35114260) Homepage Journal
    that american govt is so sensitive about freedom of information of chinese people, whereas trying to censor/suppress anything that wikileaks discloses about american government, to american people ?

    question was rhetorical. it is ironic.
    • that american govt is so sensitive about freedom of information of chinese people, whereas trying to censor/suppress anything that wikileaks discloses about american government, to american people ?

      Is the US government soliciting and obtaining Chinese government classified documents and then broadcasting their contents worldwide? No, they are not. There's no irony or hypocrisy here. Give the Devil his due, why don't you?

    • by poity ( 465672 )

      I'm trying to understand you, unity100. I know you support Wikileaks as I do, but do you also support this initiative that targets Chinese people?
      Also, the appropriate word is "hypocritical". Of course, that would require the US to actively censor what its citizens can access in the name of "social harmony" as China does.

      • if american government is going to fight for freedom of information, they should stop trying to suppress wikileaks first.
        • by poity ( 465672 )

          But do we really need to do one thing at a time? Can't we make progress on both fronts -- encourage the US to be more accepting of WL, while also supporting this initiative? Like Obama once said, "it is not necessary for us to think we can do only one thing and suspend everything else." How about it, can this project get some words of encouragement from you?

          • i cant give any encouragement on this project, because, american government, is a source which we cannot trust for freedom of information at this point.

            simply, it is illogical to support an endeavor for spreading information by a government which has been hostile to freedom of information regarding itself.

            see ? it doesnt have enough credibility. had the american government been open to freedom of information up till this point, one could say that 'well, depending on their record, we can say that they
    • Really, so where in the article do they report that we're stealing classified Chinese military & diplomatic documents, and publishing them for the entire world to look at with this software?

      I must've missed that "ironic" part!

  • US government will now feed them information that Chinese government no longer has enough credential to get through. A new era of brainwashing.
  • It's probably fitting that one of China's foes is doing this.
  • by thestudio_bob ( 894258 ) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @07:21PM (#35114406)
    I wonder if they're pushing WikiLeaks?
    • What would they do if China's government used the same FOE source code to send information to Americans?
    • Good one. XD

      That said, they always make these stuff a big deal, as if general Chinese population really care about news from foreign source.

      See, it's not like Chinese really can't push through the firewall if they really want. tens of thousands of Chinese quickly break through the firewall to view a Japanese porn star's blog (twitter? I forgot) after the news about her blog got spread through the word of mouth, adding tens of thousands of "follower" to her blog in just a few days.

      But how many push
  • Some American official: I know what to do -- we should SPAM them with propaganda!

  • This is a natural extension of Voice of America in the internet age.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @08:13PM (#35114752)

    The problem I have with the US's zeal to "export democracy" is that they go so overzealous with it that there's now a shortage of it at home.

    • I think you would have to be very naive to believe this is just about exporting democracy...

      This is actually about the minority of the uber rich who have spent years selling their souls & the souls of everyone else to the highest bidders for a few dollars/pounds/euros.

      There's a lot of new wealth in China and a lot of "investment opportunities" for the Chinese rich classes, assuming you get the information to them.

  • by Stargoat ( 658863 ) * <stargoat@gmail.com> on Saturday February 05, 2011 @08:24PM (#35114834) Journal

    Or you can just use Alta-Vista or any other not-so-well-known news provider. That's what I did last time I was over there, in China that is. I was reading a lot of African newspapers online as well.

    All it requires is a little imagination people. These are dullard Communists who specialize in IT who set the Great Firewall up.

  • by hackingbear ( 988354 ) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @10:57PM (#35115742)
    They had "success" in testing simply because nobody is using this. There are thousands other ways to do the same if only you and the few recipients know the route. Chinese government does not worry the information getting it, today you can read CNN or many other English sites in China unrestricted; they worry the information being spread to wide population and cause social unrest, like in Egypt. If it can ever be popular among to millions of people, say a lot more than the number of people using proxies or reading English news over there, they can find way to shut it down and it will be shut it down.
  • Have they asked Julian Assange for help? I Think the US should have hired him years ago... I'm sure he could get information across the great firewall of china back to the rest of the world as well.
  • Any computer with an SSH server installed can act as a SOCKS5 proxy.. Seems like it would be somewhat easier to just set up a few of those and allow the Chinese people free roam of the Internet. (of course then they could learn all sorts of things not endorsed by the US government, that can't be good :P)

  • I am not sure if they understand the implications, but let Obama tighten the bonds first before you go muck about in someone else's backyard and ruin not only diplomatic ties, but also alienate a nation that is already control hungry, and needs any excuse to bombard us again with cyber activity.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.