Friday, March 07, 2008

China's Great Firewall

We've all heard about China's efforts to censor what its citizens can find out by using the Internet. There have been plenty of reports about sites being inaccessible from within China and even how some large companies, like Yahoo and Google, might be working with the authorities there to cripple their own products.

Most of the stories I've read tend to convey the impression that China's efforts to block Internet access are crude and ultimately not that effective.

But in a feature in Atlantic magazine, James Fallows paints a different picture of what is going on. And as this summer's summer Olympics in Beijing draw closer - and the arrival of thousands of foreigners - he has a fascinating tale of how Chinese authorities are planning to control cyberspace. There is much, much more going on than is evident at first glance.
Depending on how you look at it, the Chinese government’s attempt to rein in the Internet is crude and slapdash or ingenious and well crafted. When American technologists write about the control system, they tend to emphasize its limits. When Chinese citizens discuss it—at least with me—they tend to emphasize its strength. All of them are right, which makes the government’s approach to the Internet a nice proxy for its larger attempt to control people’s daily lives.
James Fallows is a long-time contributor to the Atlantic who has a keen interest in technology and always makes the technical stuff interesting for the rest of us.

Here's the link to the story.

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