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Chinese Bloggers Find Cracks in “Great Firewall”

Rebecca MacKinnon just posted an interesting excerpt of academic research on Chinese censorship. She focused her work on domestic blogging services in China and how politically sensitive material is censored within or without the “Great Firewall.” Since some blogging services are foreign companies operating domestically in China (MySpace, Yahoo! China), she broaches the now familiar quandary of corporate complicity in Chinese state censorship.

Google (and YouTube’s geolocational filtering) have been much discussed. Perhaps less visible was the story that came out a month ago about even Skype conversations are now being monitored (thanks to Toronto-based Citizen Lab) by an automatic filtering system hunting for keywords and targeted users. One wonders if there will ever be a moment when the sprawling expanse of internet expression will become too large and unwieldy for Chinese authorities to keep a costly censorship regime.

Unfortunately, the Chinese government has already found ways of increasing the efficiency of the operation. In addition to automatic filters and regional censors, China has practically outsourced the work to private companies by requiring licenses (and their implicit conditions) to operate.

What is interesting about MacKinnon’s work (which we earlier covered here) is how uneven and inconsistent blog censorship in China turns out to be:

All Chinese blog-hosting companies are required by government regulators to censor their users’ content in order to keep their business licenses. But as Liu [Liu Xiaoyuan, a prominent Chinese blogger] discovered, they all make different choices not only about how to implement censorship requirements, but also how to treat the users who get censored.

If you don’t get shut down on one site, you’re likely to slip through on another…

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6 Responses to “Chinese Bloggers Find Cracks in “Great Firewall””

  1. Sean Says:

    I do not believe the Internet can really be censored. For ever head you cut off – 10 mutate.

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    […] 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 […]

  3. Censored by China | The Weekly Point Says:

    […] blog censorship-Rebecca MacKinnon” at by Rebecca MacKinnon. “Chinese Bloggers Find Cracks in “Great Firewall”” at ““The Connection Has Been Reset”” at […]

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  5. Internet & Democracy Blog » From China With Love…? Says:

    […] Toronto. (Munk’s Citizen Lab also broke the story of China’s Skype monitoring, which I wrote about back in December.) GhostNet covertly spied on computers in over 103 countries, including a […]

  6. Jeff Says:

    China firewall is lame – use to bypass it. You can bypass China Great Firewall and access and all other sites which are blocked.