Inside the Great Firewall’s Censorship

We might wonder, how do the Chinese government block the internet traffic? For a regular-not-an-internet-savvy person like me, it’s quite a mind boggling question. Well, you might have seen one of the video we posted here as an answer. And we also have Rebecca MacKinnon’s explanation in her book called Consent of the Network: The Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom, (again) it explains how those many layers of Internet censorship work in China.

So here how it works, according to her, basically the Chinese Internet has only 8 gateways to the global Internet connection. That is why they are easy to monitor, filter and control. At those gateways, as well as among all the different Internet service providers within China, Internet routers — the devices that move the data back and forth between different computer networks — are all configured to block long lists of website addresses and politically sensitive keywords.

But actually, if people know how to use anti-censorship software tools, they can easily circumvented the blocking system. And Rebecca MacKinnon wrote that it is believed likely that hundreds of thousands of Chinese Internet users deploy these tools to access Twitter and Facebook every day, but not enough to generate  a majority public opinion. And knowing that, the Chinese government provides plenty of social networking platforms and other delightfully entertaining and useful services to keep people occupied. There are only few companies authorized by the Chinese government, amongst them are Baidu (the homegrown search engine, enables people to locate all the content on the Chinese-language Internet that their government permits), RenRen and Kaixinwang (the social networking platforms substitute for Facebook), Sohu and Sina (the blog platforms). The later also runs a wildly popular Twitter-like microblogging service, Weibo.

After knowing that, my question now is how ‘hungry’ the Chinese people are to go beyond the China’s Great Firewall.

The article on Rebecca MacKinnon’s book is here.


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