Avoiding internet censorship in China

Avoiding internet censorship in China

Spot the difference

Can you get through the Great Firewall of China? I tried it earlier today.

Since I am not currently in China it's impossible for me to know for sure what is and isn't available through the InterWebs.

However I do have some Skype contacts in Western China and they report that almost everything we take for granted (YouTube, Wikipedia, etc.) is mysteriously missing from their network. Reminds me of the bad old days of AOL!

That the Chinese government is censoring access to the internet shouldn't really be news to anyone at this stage. In fact, they have been so sucessful at information supression that the massacre at Tiananmen Square which occurred only twenty years ago is nowadays virtually unknown to the general Chinese population.

Using test tools from Websitepulse I checked Natural Selections' accessibility to servers in Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong. Packets successful, that means I'm visible! I guess I haven't reached any blacklists there yet, and in a way I'm a little disappointed by that.

In the last few months the Chinese government has decided to block access to Anonymouse and (reportedly) TOR, two of the most popular proxies for surfers in the .CN stockade.

As far as I'm aware ProxyChina is still working and software like UltraSurf may provide IP cover, but finding somewhere to download it from within China may prove challenging.

For advanced proxy management the FoxyProxy add-on for Firefox is excellent. You'll need to search the net for valid free anonymous proxy servers; some lists of varying reliability are available.

While discussing all these options with my Chinese chat buddy, I found he was constantly amazed by the information I pulled up on the web.

How do can you know so much?? Wow! You are amazing!

I felt like an astronaut who had crash landed in a Mediaeval monastery.

Although I love having my massive ego stroked, I was a little embarrassed as I merely copy-pasted information from what we would regard as rather pedestrian on-line news sources. For example: a list of banned words, censored human rights reports, Tibetan protesters, etc.

Some say we are living in the Information Age; it is more accurately called the Information Society, as not all of those who share this age with us are equally as informed.

Restricting access to information is a very cruel confinement indeed. Imagine you were only allowed to get your news from one source (Hello magazine, say?); I can't think of a worse sentence right now.