Saturday, May 12, 2007

This little Molly project was inspired by the news that the Pet Connection site and the Itchmo Blog had been banned in China due to their reporting of the contaminated pet food ingredients coming from the PRC. The reference they gave was a site that purports to monitor whether sites are banned or not in China, the Great Firewall of China site. Now Molly was receiving a number of hits from China on her blog back in mid-March when she was blogging on the upcoming lunar eclipse. The Chinese hits have been few and far between recently, but she has received hits in April. The latest hit was yesterday from Hong Kong, which one might argue is "outside the firewall".
But Molly went exploring. Of course, the tracking site said that Molly's Blog was banned as were any number of other anarchist sites that Molly tested. No surprise there. But further inspection showed that such science sites as 'Dr. Fungus' and 'I Love Physics' were also banned. To get away from any possibility of error Molly tested two flower related sites, and . These were similarly "banned". What Molly has to conclude from this is that the site that purports to track which sites are banned in China is extremely unreliable. It is entirely possible that the site has been hacked by the Chinese government to give a total spectrum of "false positives" so as to discredit the project. It is also possible that the site is not very accurate to begin with.
The Golden Shield Project is the $800 million(so far) US attempt by the Chinese government to censor the internet in China. The Ministry of Public Security of the PRC began this project in 1998, and its first phase was completed on November 16th, 2006. Up to 30,000 police officers were employed on this project. The main focus of the project is to selectively block certain internet addresses as blocking all "objectionable content" is technically impossible, though surveillance of domestic sites does include watching for certain "key words". The main focus of the Chinese project is to block websites that they deem "subversive". Other stated purposes such as blocking pornography or criminal activity are strictly minor.
Various people have devised methods of getting past the Chinese surveillance system whether by using anonymous systems such as "tor" or by other methods. For more on this see the above reference and also 'Breaking Through the Golden Shield'.

No comments: