China Re-Blocks Sites Open During Olympics

Anyone who thought the Beijing Olympics would be a catalyst for greater freedom and human rights in China should be upset (though perhaps unsurprised) to learn that many of the websites unblocked during the games have now been re-censored. The Times has the full story here.

One quote in particular, from Rebecca MacKinnon, a former Berkman Fellow and co-founder of Global Voices, helps to shade China’s particular brand of censorship in relief relative to the more mild, though to my mind still serious, censorship that many Western countries are now implementing (child pornography blocks in the US and Australia; Holocaust denial websites in Germany):

Ms. MacKinnon noted that, in contrast to other countries, the Chinese government defines crime very broadly, imposes censorship with little if any explanation and provides no process for operators of blocked Web sites to appeal censorship decisions. She added that even when entire Web sites are not blocked, the Chinese government still sometimes limits certain keyword searches.

There is something all together arbitrary about the Chinese firewall, an absurdity which will no doubt only increase as the size of the Chinese web rapidly outpaces the government’s ability to police it. There are already signs that the Great Firewall is relatively permeable when it comes to blog censorship. The renewed interest, however, in re-censoring previously open sites (in principle, like the shuffling of Beijing’s heavy industry outside the city limits during the Games) demonstrates the Chinese aren’t going to give up the battle without a fight.

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4 Responses to “China Re-Blocks Sites Open During Olympics”

  1. Bryan Says:

    Some computing problems are made more difficult by the fact that increasing the difficulty of the problem happens in linear time, but the added time to solve happens in quadratic time. For instance, suppose I ask you to calculate the shortest route for a person to take on a multi-city trip, adding another city to the trip (to the question) takes N time, solving the new problem will increase by N^x time. This was a very roundabout way to get to my query: does content on the internet increase at a rate that is insoluble to the Great Firewall? Does the Firewall do ad hoc scanning of every page, or does it create a central registry of links?

    I noticed that, when I was living in China, pages like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tank_Man would load in their entirety–including the iconic picture. But as soon as it had loaded completely the page would disappear and be replaced with a 404 error.

  2. Bryan Says:

    As an addendum:
    the variable x is greater than 1

  3. » NYT in China Blocked and Unblocked I&D Blog Says:

    […] week, I posted about China¬† re-blocking several of the sites temporarily accessible during the Olympics. During […]

  4. Queen Says:

    I discovered recently Skydur.com – a little proxy, unfortunatelly not free. I wish it is free but it’s not so expensive neither – just about $5 bucks per month. I can now access all web sites again from China – youtube, twitter, facebook and hulu. Skydur is very fast and works on Windows, Mac and Linux – check it out here – http://www.skydur.com – you won’t be disappointed. Believe me I tried dozens of free proxy programs and noone worked as advertised.