China and Internet Censorship

Wanna know how China intercepts and censors the internet?

This slide show presentation on CNN.com shows you how China can monitor emails and website visitation with a click of the mouse? Thank God the U.S can't do this. Right? Right?

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China and Internet Censorship

Introduction

Introduction

Introduction
China has developed very sophisticated technology for intercepting and censoring Internet content. The government blocks many topics it considers sensitive or controversial and often punishes those who try to get around those bans. Reporters Without Borders refers to China as the "world's biggest prison for cyber-dissidents."

Sources: Reporters Without Borders, The OpenNet Initiative, China Internet Network Information Center

Statistics

  • Population: 1.3 billion (2006)
  • Internet users: 103 million-110 million (2006)
  • Imprisoned Internet users: 61 (2004)
  • Users convicted: 17 (2003)
  • Bloggers: 600,000 (2005)
  • Computer hosts: 45.6 million (2006)
  • .cn domain Web sites: 677,500 (2006)
  • Unique IP addresses: 60 million
  • Bandwidth capacity: 74,429 megabits per second

Key players

Key players

Government
Many state agencies control the Internet in China. They censor content transmitted through Web pages, blogs, forums, bulletin boards and e-mail.

Media regulation and state secrets laws, cybercafé regulations, and controls over service and content providers are designed to support filtering.

The Central Propaganda Department makes sure content providers stick with material that is consistent with Communist Party ideology.

Businesses
Western corporations provide much of the equipment and services for China's Internet system. Major players include Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks, Sun Microsystems, 3COM, Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, IBM and others.

Yahoo! and Google agreed to rework their search engines to comply with China's filtering practices.

Cisco Systems has been integral to China's Internet development. Its router equipment, which reportedly provides no anonymity or encryption and was specifically designed for China, is in the core of the nation's surveillance of the Internet.

Providers
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must track who's online and what pages are visited. Customers' account numbers, phone numbers and IP addresses must be kept on file. ISPs can be held legally responsible if customers use their systems to violate laws.

Internet Content Providers (ICPs) that publish content and operate bulletin boards are legally responsible for content they display. ICPs must also set up systems of secure registration and login to be able to verify users' identities and track their online activity. If they fail to do so, their business licenses will be revoked and the company's staff could be arrested.

Cybercafés
Called wangba, or Net bars, cybercafés are required to keep detailed logs of customers' online activity on file for 60 days. If a user tries to access forbidden Web sites, a café must disconnect the user and file a report with state agencies. Penalties for violations include fines and even imprisonment.

People cannot use cyber services without an identification card, which is kept on record for at least 60 days. Children under 16 are not allowed in cybercafés, where people often play violent video games.

People
Every Chinese person who signs up for Internet service must register with his or her local police department within 30 days.

Volunteers, guided by ISP employees, monitor Web sites, chat rooms and bulletin boards to prevent prohibited language from being published. Civilians may report violations to the authorities.

Volunteers also clean up postings by deleting any that manage to evade automatic filters.

Filtering

Filtering

E-mail
The Chinese keep a close eye on communication tools such as e-mail.

E-mail is filtered by service providers. The method is based on the same technology that blocks spam. Body text and subject lines are scanned and blocked if anything objectionable is found.

Keywords
Chinese search engines monitor content by keyword and remove offending Web sites. When people request banned content through Chinese search engines like Baidu and Yisou, the filtering system disconnects them.

Blogs, discussion forums, and bulletin boards are very popular in China. They're heavily filtered by keyword blocks. Blogs' service providers do not let posts with certain words be published, and blogs are also censored manually.

URL/Domain name
Internet content is also filtered by domain names and URLs, or Internet addresses, which are blocked if they contain words or combinations of letters similar to those on the list of blocked topics.

For example, a URL with letters "falu" or "flg" is inaccessible in China because the spiritual group Falun Gong is banned.

IP address
Blocking by Internet Protocol (IP) address creates even stronger barriers to information.

Because a Web site can be reached by a URL or an IP address, China blocks both with technology and tricks such as TCP connection termination and "ZeroWindow" condition.

What's blocked

What's blocked

Web sites
The Chinese government blocks Web sites of some Western media outlets and human rights organizations — and any it deems politically or socially harmful.

Chinese people trying to access information related to Taiwanese and Tibetan independence, the Dalai Lama, Tiananmen Square, SARS, opposition political parties, and anti-Communist movements will find themselves out of luck.

Information about any group that can organize large numbers of people is considered threatening. Any Web site with information on the Falun Gong spiritual movement, for example, is blocked.

Keywords
Here's a short list of keywords that will trigger the filtering system and block access to content:

  • Revolution
  • Equality
  • Freedom
  • Justice
  • Taiwan
  • Tibet
  • Falun Gong
  • Dissident
  • Democracy
  • STD
  • Human rights

Circumvention

Circumvention

Proxy relays
People use proxy relays to get around Internet filtering and monitoring. A proxy server acts as a buffer between a Web browser and a Web server. Proxy manipulation allows users to connect to the Internet through servers based abroad.

Software
Many different kinds of software allow users to surf the Internet anonymously and protect their privacy.

The so-called anonymous communications systems hide a user's identity from the content provider.

Circumventors
Web-based circumventors are special Web pages in which a user can enter a blocked URL in a special form and press the "submit" button. The circumventor pulls the content and displays it.

With a Web-based circumventor, no software has to be installed and no browser setting must be changed.

Tunneling
Tunneling is port-forwarding, which allows a user in a censored location to access information through a tunnel to a computer in an unfiltered location.

All requests run through an encrypted tunnel to a non-filtered computer, which forwards requests and responses transparently. Both private and commercial tunneling services are available.

Other techniques
Many other creative techniques bypass censorship. Another well-known method of ad-hoc circumvention is accessing Google's cache.

Google's cache function sends search requests to its regular servers and not to the blocked source's servers.

Wanna know how Malaysia intercepts and censors the internet?

In Malaysia, our politicians think the blog IS the internet. And blog IS evil. Other than pr0n, blog would be the first in their list of censorship. Enjoy the interweb while you can.

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9 Responses to “China and Internet Censorship”

  1. lutfi Says:

    "Other than pr0n, blog would be the first in their list of censorship." yeah right. diorang yg tgk.

    anyways falun gong macam cite wong fei hung.

    Fez: Ah, mcm Righteous Harmony Society yg start Boxer Rebellion masa Perang Candu dulu.

  2. leni Says:

    sorry out of topic. but i noticed that you've been viewing my blog quite frequently, and you know my real name and nick some more. Do you know me?

    Fez: Frequently? No. Know you? I'm from Phobos, wait…Deimos. I think. (Mars’s two natural satellites)

  3. leni Says:

    alrighty.

  4. daftsavant Says:

  5. munirah Says:

    who’s leni?

  6. daftsavant Says:

    Who’s munirah? Hehehe…

  7. l3ilani Says:

    Thank you so much for this information I am researching China and the Falun Gong.

  8. Y blog » Says:

    […] https://daftsavant.wordpress.com/2006/03/27/wanna-know-how-china-intercepts-and-censors-the-internet/   […]

  9. daftsavant Says:

    Welcome 🙂

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