So About That Plan To Drop The Great Firewall For Olympics Reporters? Yeah, Forget That...

from the whoops dept

Back in February, there were some rumors making the rounds that the Chinese gov't was planning to drop its "Great Firewall" of internet censorship, to make sure that reporters had full access to the internet as necessary. Then, in April, the International Olympic Committee specifically asked government censors to drop the filters during the Olympics. Even that request seemed sketchy, as the IOC said that leaving the filters in place would "reflect poorly" on China. I would think that having the filters in the first place (and putting them back after the Olympics) would also "reflect poorly" on China, but that's a separate discussion.

However, what really does reflect poorly is the news that China hasn't dropped the filters at all. Journalists are complaining, but apparently the Chinese censors and the IOC have come to a compromise: China won't censor any Olympics websites. Unless they mention Tibet or something. In other words, China hasn't really loosened the Great Firewall at all.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    James, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 12:24pm

    Idiot government bs

    Let them do what they want, be quite interesting if everyone stayed home, and said ehh we'll sit this one out.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 1:02pm

    I for one could care less for the Olympics so as far as I'm concerned China can censor itself into oblivion.

     

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    suckerpunch-tm, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 1:14pm

    re: China hasn't really loosened the Great Firewall at all.

    Who really thought they would? If you thought so, why??

    I mean its a fricking dictatorship for crying out loud, censoring is part & parcel of what dictatorships do.

     

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      Me, thats right. Me the Fuzzy Mellon, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 1:21pm

      Re: re: China hasn't really loosened the Great Firewall at all.

      Exactly. If you actually thought China would hold of on censorship for the west, I have some property you might be interested in also.

       

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    Abdul, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 1:25pm

    Sharing the plight of Hapless Chinese!!

    Now the West seems to be getting a taste of what millions of ordinary folks are enduring daily!! This is hypocrisy in its highest form and it's a shame that the olympics should be hosted under such an atmoshpere: Us vs. Them on ‘The Internets’(http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=526&doc_id=151087&F_src= flftwo)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 1:26pm

    I guess someone in China finally realised that if they drop the firewall, even for a short while, then citizens are going to realise just how much censorship is going on.

    It's easier to tell people that foreigners are making stuff up than it is to tell them why you felt you had to censor them.

     

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    Sierra Night Tide, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 1:36pm

    censorship

    does anyone know how much censorship is happening in the US? Not much difference...only different in how it is done.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 1:37pm

    You conclusion is false. If they came to an agreement not to censor Olympia sites then they would have dropped some of their censorship. Any person that thought they would drop all censorship is a dolt.

     

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    Tibet, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 1:41pm

    fchina.org

    Tibet Tibet Tibet... I guess the Chinese won't be able to see this page....

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 1:42pm

    The Olympics are coming up?

    - point made!

     

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    deerhuntr (profile), Jul 30th, 2008 @ 1:51pm

    Olympics in China?

    Why the hell would they be having the Olympics in China anyway? Between the human rights violations, smog, and the aforementioned internet censorship this is STUPID!

     

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    Col. Custard, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Censorship

    And to think Beijing beat out San Francisco for this round. What a trade off. Could've been sailing under the Golden Gate, Cycling Mt Tam, decathlon in Candlestick park, all while the spectators and athletes enjoyed the hospitality of one of the worlds most beautiful cities and some of it's best tourist infrastructure.

    But nope, we get smog, censorship, and oppression. WTFG, IOC.

     

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    South Africa World Cup, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 2:17pm

    Up next

    Your up next! Start taking notes.

     

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    Zaphod, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 3:32pm

    The smart move for the press...

    Would be to quit ignoring the EFF, and equip their laptops with TOR, an EFF sponsored "anti-censorship" encrypted router system.

    Of course this could have bad effects in the eyes of pointy haired bosses that don't want employees surfing at work, since TOR blows through most firewalls. However, since news lately is 95% plagarism, and 5% brick pounding (sad), publishers shouldn't have a problem with this.

    If you are reading this from some place with a bad wall, get over to http://www.torproject.org/ and get equipped.

     

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    Charming Charlie, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 3:33pm

    "I mean its a fricking dictatorship for crying out loud, censoring is part & parcel of what dictatorships do."

    Going out on a limb and guessing you have never lived in China. Nor studied it. Nor have a clue what "dicatatorship" means.

    I believed they would relax the filters for the Olympics, as did Mike, if I recall correctly. Even the cynics can understand how a lower presence of state control during the Olympics would be good for China's international perception, which is something the party is deeply concerned with. But even if not for self-interest, I saw for a year how on an almost monthly basis the party was making reforms which brought it closer to Western governments.

    The easiest changes to spot are in the business sector where the government is making efforts to reduce corruption and enforce rule of law. If you're actually interested in knowing more about China here's a great blog to start with: http://www.chinalawblog.com/

    "I guess someone in China finally realised that if they drop the firewall, even for a short while, then citizens are going to realise just how much censorship is going on."

    They realize quite a bit, they just don't care. Why the Great Firewall is so effective. It doesn't stop them from getting up, going to work, and coming home. Just like Americans keep on trucking with only minor annoyance when they are restricted from buying alcohol during certain hours, ticketed for fishing without a license, or arrested for verbally "assaulting" someone.

    Immediately the American reader cleaves a difference in these personal freedoms and the right to political expression because that value of free speech is engrained in us in every mandatory history, government, and social studies class we take in k-12 and college. Chinese people have other values ingrained in them, and this accounts for why they don't understand why Westerners won't shut up about the "oppressive government" they love so much. China's Loyal Youth.

     

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      L, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 5:50pm

      Charming Charlie

      "Immediately the American reader cleaves a difference..."

      I enjoyed your comment. You captured the mindset of both the Chinese and Americans. If you take an ordinary day like the one you just described...that is exactly what happens in both China and the US. Work, eat, play, and sleep. Nobody is concerned with how "bad" their own government is doing as long as they feel safe, secure, and have all the necessary public services they think needs to be provided by their government.

       

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    Trerro, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 3:54pm

    US censors a lot more than many think...

    While we thankfully have nowhere near China's level of censorship, we do have a lot of issues.

    First of all, that alt.* Usenet block that all the major ISPs are getting strongarmed into is a lot worse than it sounds. Usenet has 8 formal categories of groups, and then alt, which is basically the "everything else" category. As you might expect, there's quite a lot of everything else - about 100,000 groups in all. Each group acts independently, so to put that in web terms, 100,000 entire forum sites are being blocked, due to the lawbreaking actions of 88. That's not trivial by ANY standard. It's true that there are hundreds of small Usenet-only services you can sign up for, including some that are very cheap, but the simple fact is, most people don't realize this. Experienced Usenet users all have a favorite newsreader (program written specifically to access Usenet) and a dedicated server they use, but more casual users generally do not, and NEW users almost never do - and remember, if the only way you know of getting to the network is blocked, and you've never used it, you'll never see the value of having access to it... and certainly won't pay for a good feed.

    Usenet was created pretty much with the sole intent to democratize the internet. This was especially important before the public web, but it still matters now. It costs absolutely nothing to start a group. If you have a topic, no matter how obscure, and can find even a handful of people that will announce they'd be interested in a group for it, one will be created, at 0 cost of money OR time for the person making the group, and other than the initial drive to get the group up and running, the creators don't have to do ANYTHING to keep the group alive, so long as some activity remains. I know of one group that's over 15 years old, likely doesn't have a single original member. The group is literally older than the web, yet it's still active. This is by no means a unique case. Modern forums may have far more features than a Usenet group, but they simply don't have that kind of staying power... if the admins stop having the time or money to maintain their site, it dies... and if they never get the money in the first place, they can't run their site.

    The mandatory use of blocking software in schools and libraries is further censorship, and a lot more direct. Keep in mind that for many poor users, they may not have 'net access outside of libraries and schools, as it's one more bill they simply can't afford to pay. No matter how much people want to think otherwise, blocking software doesn't just stop porn, it blocks many, many things it shouldn't, and in almost all cases, was written with a political agenda, as the programs have very, VERY few voluntary users. If you don't believe this, head to the nearest censored library and try loading up major websites for a few random religions. I'm sure you can guess which 2 aren't blocked.

    With each passing bogus law, we've slid a bit further down that slippery slope, and what right now might be an amount of blocking that most people won't encounter most of the time can rapidly spiral into our own Great Firewall. The precedents that are being set now are what politicians in the future can build on with politics that rely entirely on isolated moral outage and plain old FUD.

    So yeah, compared to China, we really are the land of the free, but if we don't fight the attacks on those freedoms that are occurring NOW, it's going to be much, much worse if we wait until Great Firewall comparisons really do become valid.

    Two really useful sites are eff.org (for actually fighting the laws, as well as staying current on whatever BS is currently being proprosed) and peacefire.org (for helping specific people get around censorware.) Groklaw and of course Techdirt are extremely useful for info as well.

    As for China and the Olympic thing, this one can be filed in the "well, duh" section. The reporters also better make sure they stay in officially sanctioned areas when reporting on the games, so they don't get into any "unfortunate accidents."

     

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    Jason B., Jul 30th, 2008 @ 7:10pm

    Last Chinese games

    I surely hope that this will now be the last games held in China. They should be penalized and NBC should be rewarded their contract money back. The world deserves 100 percent coverage of these games and that can only happen if the people reporting on the games have 100 percent access to all of the internet. What if something would happen and those reporters were unable to report on it because they were blocked out. A weak argument, but if a country says it will do something and then reneges they should loose the rights to ever have them again, and all athletes should boycott the games. I know I would. How stupid can the Chinese govt be? With the amount of foreigners in China, they simply MUST ALL understand their government lies even more than ours.

     

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    jason B., Jul 30th, 2008 @ 7:16pm

    Amen Number 23

    @23 I couldn't have said it better myself. Unless this country stands up and fights for what we should stand up for, we don't stand a chance in the long run. We are already too close to the military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us of and we have even liberal elitists even standing up for warrant less invasions of privacy.

    Perhaps they are ethical right now, perhaps they might be ethical in 5, 10, maybe they will be ethical in 20 years. But how long before its expected, and the next president takes it an inch further, just another inch, inch, inch, inch. Back to the 1500's.

     

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    Ferin (profile), Jul 31st, 2008 @ 5:17am

    Same as it ever was

    Nice to see the IOC living up to its usual glorious standard of ethical and moral behavior.

     

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    known coward, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 11:02am

    3 and 29

    seem to have it about right. In the US it is NGO groups that push for censoring, in china it is a governmental affair

     

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    Wolf, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 12:47pm

    Freedom of speech? Nah!

    No-one should forget that the Olympic Games are owned and operated by a private company, and that the executives of that company live like Princes on the huge amounts of money the IOC reaps from its franchise.

    The staging of a Games is a simple business contract. If China attempts to break that contract it is up to the IOC to enforce it.

    Gosper - an IOC member from Australia - has the responsibility to oversee the communications network serving the Games. Gosper is a self-aggrandising wannabe. Nobody in Australia has forgotten Gosper pulling rank to get his daughter to lead off a leg of the Sydney torch relay and bumping aside another very disappointed torch carrier.

    This gambit is lost.

     

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    Dee, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 1:31pm

    Olympics

    I think when a country, ANY country, applies to be the host of the Olympic Games, they should be held to the same rules as every other past and future host.

    Can you honestly tell me no one considered these problems years ago.

    This is what the IOC gets for electing to hold the games in a country which censors their people.

    Honestly, it is to the point I think national leaders and unfortunately, the great athletes, should reconsider whether they should even attend.

    I have always looked forward to the Olympics, the competition, the comraderie, but this year I may boycott.

    Guess what China, it is my RIGHT!

     

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    chris, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 5:05pm

    I think most peoples problems with china isnt the censorship thing. That's a big issue but not the worst for China. Putting people in prison for speaking out about the regime is much much worse. Although a lot of people dislike Pres. Bush thank god every day you are in a country where you have the right to criticize him and the fed government everyday.

     

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    SUN, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 5:38pm

    Sports Or Politics!

    I think people alawys ingore one important thing here that the absolute majority of Chinese are thrilled to have Olympics in China.Any activites that tarnished the Chinese in this respect, like so called Tibet freedom, democracy or somthing a like, only can backfire among the Chinese. In addition, Sports is Sports, Polictics is Polictics, why should people connect the two and just make things complicated?

    In addtion, some media and people keep saying that China government is taking advantage of this Olympics event to boost China image as a modern China,however, do they understand that the Chinese people wants to showcase the new and rapid chaning China to the world through this event as well? It is obvious to see that when the pro-Olympics demonstration in China and other places took place in the Olympics torch relay.

    Please talk about the politics in the political arena!

     

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    michael, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 7:10pm

    China is China, not U.S.A.

    China is country with long long history and unique culture with mixed complex. and so many ethnic minorities live in this one large nation, a lot of problem need to be addressed step by step. I think westerners should forget their simple thinking of democracy towards China. If you go to have a thorough look on China. you will see many things have improved a lot in last three decades. and we should understand Chinese government still cannot accept some potential separatism from its some big ethnic minorities incl. Tibetans. China needs time to adjust its domestic policies , so people out of China should also need to adjust their views on China's everythings......

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 8:38pm

    Prevention

    Facing various accuse on human right, it understandable on such acions from Chines govenment. How can Olympic game be held well in such complex international circumstances.

     

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