30,000 Internet Censors In China To Be Defeated By 3 Hackers In Canada?

from the the-battle-continues dept

Last month we had a story saying that China employed 30,000 people to police the internet and manage the filter that blocks out objectionable content. However, it looks like just three hackers in Canada are working on a way around that, with a new system that will help those in countries with limited internet access get around the digital blockades. This certainly isn't the first or only attempt to do so. A few years ago, we wrote about how the US government was funding a similar effort (yes, as American companies supplied much of the equipment that makes the original blockades work). While it's likely to be a continuous back-and-forth affair between censors and those looking for ways to free up the internet, the difference in size of the teams involved should make it clear that the effort to break down these walls is going to remain a lot less than the effort to build them up.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    dorpus, May 8th, 2006 @ 3:13am

    Heh

    We're assuming these guys won't start getting followed around by the RCMP for causing trouble? Then their paranoid fantasies about men in black suits following them can come true.

     

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  2.  
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    Exiled From the mainstream, May 8th, 2006 @ 3:27am

    HA!!

    I find this funny for a multitude of reasons. The biggest being that people STILL think they can censor the internet, which in many ways transcends the national borders of the globe. The second biggest being that 3 (count them on your fingers folks 1, 2, 3!!!) hackers can easily pull down the efforts of 30,000 if they have enough know how and determination.

    And just to take a potshot at the old farts that cant be bothered to learn the internet that reside in congress. HEY WHEN YOU GETTING OUTTA THERE SO WE CAN HAVE SOME FOLKS THAT UNDERSTAND THE INTERNET WRITING LAWS FOR IT?!

     

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  3.  
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    dorpus, May 8th, 2006 @ 3:35am

    Re: HA!!

    Or is the funny part that 3 guys think they can change the world, as if the Canadian government will help them? If Chinese agents find a way to do these guys in, then Canadian redcoats won't have a clue what to do, and the US will not lift a finger to help them -- payback for Canada's fanatical anti-Americanism.

     

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  4.  
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    Exiled From the mainstream, May 8th, 2006 @ 3:48am

    Well Dorpus...

    They'd get their 15 minutes of fame if they managed to put a hole in the great firewall of china. And I thought anti-americanism was the worlds fad lately! :P

    I bet pocket lint they actually have the attention span to make world news. You have to admit, It'd be damn funny if 3 hackers actually pulled this off!

     

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  5.  
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    dorpus, May 8th, 2006 @ 4:09am

    Yeah, assuming there is any substance to their claim, and it isn't the usual Canadian copycatting of existing methods.

    Oh and, they still won't score any Chinese girls. :P

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2006 @ 4:09am

    Re: Well Dorpus...

    Until China held a few executions (or even rumors of executions) to hedge the usage of these new liberating program. I'm not sure how many people are willing to give their life to find more crap on the net.

     

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  7.  
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    dorpus, May 8th, 2006 @ 4:13am

    Re: Re: Well Dorpus...

    China could always put pressure on the university by threatening to stop sending Chinese scholars there, so science at UT grinds to a halt. Then the university will quickly expel the students for "writing malicious software on university computing resources".

     

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  8.  
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    Sha, May 8th, 2006 @ 5:04am

    Actually...

    Those 30000 censors don't code filters or firewalls. Their job is more to monitor forums, blogs, or net cafes.
    And the biggest part in all censorship is self-censorship. People check what they're writing before posting in a forum, then the administrators of the website check it too to make sure they won't get in trouble.

    The technological part of censorship is not the biggest problem.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2006 @ 5:32am

    Good

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2006 @ 5:34am

    Eh...

    As far as I can tell, all this is is a proxy that uses encryption. I'd be willing to bet there's already a lot of people in China using proxies.

    The main thing with this program: it doesn't use public proxies. Public proxies usually aren't encrypted, so it's a matter of time until the censors catch on and block the server. With a private encrypted proxy the chances of the government finding out is next to nothing.

    One has to wonder where this could lead too... Once one person in china has uncensored internet, do they allow their neighbors to use their computer as a proxy? Is it feasible that eventually all internet traffic in china will be through encrypted proxies in such a way that the government has no control over it?

     

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  11.  
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    Ban Punster, May 8th, 2006 @ 5:41am

    Hmmm...

    I guess they're trying to prove:

    Where there's a will theres a Wei.

     

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  12.  
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    Wolfger, May 8th, 2006 @ 5:52am

    Dorpus

    Paranoid fantasies? Canada's fanatical anti-Americanism? WTF? I'd like to know if you have any basis for these whacked out statements, or if you simply have no credibility whatsoever.

    I saw nothing in the article to indicate these 3 gentlemen are paranoid, or living in a fantasy world. Do you have something against these men in particular, or do you just stereotype all politically minded hackers the same way?

    If Canada is "fanatically anti-American", why the hell did they follow us over to Iraq, and are getting their soldiers killed for us?

     

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  13.  
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    Wolfger, May 8th, 2006 @ 5:55am

    flagged as potential spam?

    In the past week, I have tried to post a comment 3 times, and all 3 times I was "flagged as potential spam". I have never spammed this site, and I don't write posts that any halfway intelligent spam filter would flag, so what gives? Have I been put on a watch list for some reason? Is this simply the way Techdirt works now? Either way, it sucks.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2006 @ 6:37am

    Personally I'd be glad if the chinese government got screwed over, sick of communist countries and countries that base everything around a cult or religion controlling what people can and can't do, that destroys the freedom section of human rights, it's like that country that wanted to kill a guy because he converted to Christianity...big woop so he didn't follow the crowd. Communism just doesn't work, I love the sound of it, I mean everybody having an equal share is great but it just doesn't work like that. What I hate most about the chinese government is the fact that whenever you talk to a Chinese person you have to watch what you say otherwise you could get them in trouble.

     

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  15.  
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    Michael Langford, May 8th, 2006 @ 7:05am

    Re: Re: HA!!

    Yeah well, they aren't breaking any Canadian laws so they won't get arrested here, you see we don't make money from jailing up here, so we pretty much try to only put criminals in jail...

     

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  16.  
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    Brandon Zylstra, May 8th, 2006 @ 8:37am

    chances next to nothing!?

    what's to stop the government from just downloading the program and checking to see what private proxy it uses? They then just block that proxy.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2006 @ 8:42am

    Re: Re: Re: HA!!

    nice...

     

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  18.  
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    charlie potatoes, May 8th, 2006 @ 9:30am

    re: aniti american sentiment

    fuck you, towel-head

     

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  19.  
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    saleh, May 8th, 2006 @ 10:15am

    Misses the point

    The concept of working-around the Chinese censorship is, in a lot of ways, silly. When I was in China, it was a trivial matter to bypass the Chinese firewalls (in my case, using stunnel to a proxy). The technology is not sophisticated.

    However, the technology is pervasive. When you're there, things "look normal." That is, unless you've seen the full unfiltered Internet, and you are used to how it looks, you would have no idea that anything was wrong, other than reliablity being a bit of an issue. You do see criticism of the government, but enough of the debate is filtered so that you see 80% favorable and 20% unfavorable, and the unfavorable coverage tends to be from less reputable sources.

    I'm all for this group's efforts, and for empowering free speech worldwide. But, I see little chance it will make a significant difference. The Chinese firewall is about framing the debate, and even if half of Chinese users adopted this software, the debate would still be seriously skewed.

     

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  20.  
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    Alex Hagen, May 8th, 2006 @ 10:19am

    Don't Underestimate the Great Firewall

    All this hype is for this old idea? It's an encrypted proxy, nothing less and nothing more. I set up an encrypted proxy on my home machine once, for my dad who was living at the time in the United Arab Emerites, a country that also performs country wide filtering. They found it and blocked within 3 days. I am pretty sure the Great Firewall is just as, if not a lot more, effective than the U.A.E.'s offering. You are a fool if you think this won't get blocked just as fast.

     

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  21.  
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    Mike (profile), May 8th, 2006 @ 11:59am

    Re: flagged as potential spam?

    In the past week, I have tried to post a comment 3 times, and all 3 times I was "flagged as potential spam". I have never spammed this site, and I don't write posts that any halfway intelligent spam filter would flag, so what gives? Have I been put on a watch list for some reason? Is this simply the way Techdirt works now? Either way, it sucks.

    We use the spam filter from Askimet. It works mainly based on IP addresses, so there's something about where you're posting from that concerns it. Either way, we review the "caught" posts by hand, and allow them. So all of your comments eventually make it through.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2006 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Dorpus

    If Canada is "fanatically anti-American", why the hell did they follow us over to Iraq, and are getting their soldiers killed for us?

    The only Canadian soldiers in Iraq are with the American military under exchange programs. Canada is in Afghanistan (having relieved Americans there) and are getting killed. They lost a senior diplomat recently.

    A while back a Canadian sniper set a record by killing a Taliban at 2400+ yards.

    It is likely that the work being done is actually being funded by either the US or Canadian secret service. To stop encrypted communications with a proxy, the Chinese will have to ban encrypted signals - they won't have to know what you're saying, just that it is encrypted. In fact, since encrypted signals can be distinguished digitally from lots of other traffic the use of an encrypted proxy may lead the Chinese authorities to dissidents much more easily than having 30,000 people sitting reading everyone's email.

     

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  23.  
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    buckykat, May 8th, 2006 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re: HA!!

    fanatical anti americanism? you don't even need a passport to go there. just because the canadian parliment doesn't obey every order the us flings out, doesn't mean they're anti american.

     

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  24.  
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    Bob Smith, May 8th, 2006 @ 3:23pm

    Canadian

    Has much as I hate to say this against my fellow Canadians, all they appear to be doing is planning to build an encrypted proxy, which is hosted by a friendly person in a 'free' country.

    The major issues with this problem are:
    Many encrypted proxies already exist, we have no need for another one.
    The Chinese person to bypass the firewall has to have a friend/family in a free country.
    The friend has to leave their computer on basically 24/7 (due to timezones), further increasing their inflated power bills.
    If the Chinese person would happen to get caught using this proxy, they would be tortured/killed. Is that really worth it for a bit of free internet?

    So really, the story should be something like this...
    Three dudes ('hackers'?) in canada, claimed to be making a program to destroy the 'Great Firewall'; Some not-understanding news-person, grabbed the story, and ran with it, even though he/she had no idea what was going on. And finally, every other news site assumed that the original reporter actually understood, and brought the story to us.

     

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  25.  
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    the mainstream, May 8th, 2006 @ 4:20pm

    Re: HA!!

    Wheres the third biggest reason? Also, apparently 30,000 censors can actually do a pretty good job of censoring the internet, especially when US corporations do their share to pitch in.

    Also, these 3 hackers have not yet cracked anyhting, and it certainly wont be easy. A bit of an ignorant post.

     

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  26.  
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    |333173|3|_||3, May 8th, 2006 @ 5:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Well Dorpus...

    The students don't seem to have written it on Uni computers, so it is not the Uni's problem. The software is also not technically malicious, so they could also challenge expulsion in the courts.

     

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  27.  
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    |333173|3|_||3, May 8th, 2006 @ 5:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: HA!!

    Unlike the Australian Parliament, that is.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2006 @ 5:37pm

    Re: Eh...

    All the govt. has to do is to send off anyone who is downloading encrypted data from a souce which has not been approved to rediscover the joys of pesant labour by breaking rocks or something. ppl would soon stop using it.

     

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  29.  
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    Drew, May 8th, 2006 @ 9:59pm

    Triangle Boy

    Anyone remember the Triangle Boy project ? Whatever happened to that ?

     

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  30.  
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    China Law Blog, May 10th, 2006 @ 9:59pm

    Let's Hope it Lasts

    Knowing China, it will make this work-around illegal. This won't stop it, but it will slow it down and instill fear.

     

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  31.  
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    ghanglia, Jun 20th, 2008 @ 3:37am

    censor china

    it only will take one person to defeat chinas effort to censor the internet and he/she doesn't need to be tech
    savvy either.
    If the Chinese person would happen to get caught using this proxy, they would be tortured/killed. this Is really what a bit of free internet could do for the chineese
    the australians are just goofy for tring to do the same thing , i hope a roo gets stuck up there

     

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  32.  
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    Jeff, May 28th, 2009 @ 6:22am

    I have unfiltered access to any site from China using Freedur.com. This little proxy rocks. They offer free trial. Try it, you’ll like it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Internal Auditor Training, Mar 12th, 2014 @ 1:02am

    Internal Auditor Training

    however what am i able to say… I put things off a whole lot and don't manage to get nearly anything done.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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