Great Firewall of ChinaTuesday, March 27, 2007 at 4:34 | Posted in Blogosphere, censorship, China, Freedom of speech, internet | 12 Comments
It is more or less common knowledge in the Cyber World that China is protecting its citizens from the harmful effects of free speech by massively censoring the Internet. I discovered through this anonymous news blog that there is a web site calling themselves Great Firewall of China which says it is performing a live test on any URL in the World to show if that site is accessible in China or not. According to the site, they have a test server in China to be connected during the live test.
As the picture above shows, this blog is blocked in China, according to the Great Firewall of China. Another test showed that I am not alone: all of the WordPress.com seems to be blocked. I also detected that the blogging engine of Blogger.com seems to be available while the blogs hosted in Blogspot.com are blocked.
Since the mirror site of my Estonian blog is hosted by WordPress.com it is also blocked but the blog itself, hosted in an Estonian server, is readily available. I guess this just shows the scale of the Chinese censors. They block large areas of the Internet without paying much notice to the content censored.
Obvious blocks are placed upon Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders while the International Federation of Journalists web site seems to be available. Available are also the sites of US Senate, White House and The European Union. The official site of the President of Estonia seems to be accessible as well as the personal site of Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany.
While China seems to be afraid of bloggers hosted by major blogging services, the self hosted blogs that I checked out seemed to be accessible. This goes at least for RA-Blog, Dreibeinblog, Farliblog, Christian in Vienna and Mein Parteibuch. The Great Firewall itself was unable to load Schott’s Blog although the blog was accessible for me during the test.
Precisely the fact that the Firewall does not seem to be able to load some sites made me a bit suspicious. GMail should not be that difficult to reach if the site indeed operates in the Netherlands as this WHOIS query suggests. Entering http://mail.google.com produces this error message: “This page does not exist or could not be tested due to technical reasons!” Fishy, I say! I certainly hope that the recorded queries do not land down on the table of the censors to assist them block further sites.
Be it as it may, the censoring itself is an effort bound to be wasted in the long run. You can only protect a billion people from the truth so much. If China used the same energy to block Chinese spammers from submitting entries to WordPress hosted blogs as they use for censoring the contents of those blogs, the Internet would be a much better place to surf in.