by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
china, great firewall, olympics, technology

China To Disable Great Firewall For The Olympics?

from the firewall,-what-firewall? dept

While the Chinese government has, at times, been known to deny that it censors the internet, it's a well-known phenomenon. In the last year or so, more and more details have come out about how the process works. Last fall a disgruntled censor explained the massive bureaucracy that goes into determining what is and what is not appropriate. There have also been reports noting the tens of thousands of people who are involved in censoring the internet, and how the system also relies on "volunteers" to both look out for "bad" content while also adding good content.

However, most of those reports focused mainly on the people side of the Great Firewall. Reader Jon now points us to James Fallows' more detailed look at the technological side of the Great Firewall, and the different methods that are used to block sites. Apparently, China has gotten a lot more sophisticated over the past few years in blocking sites. All traffic in and out of the country is monitored, of course, and it's now possible for the system to ban specific pages or articles that have objectionable content, rather than blocking an entire site (as it used to do). There are times when it will still block entire sites, but they can be a lot more narrowly focused. Another interesting point is that China is now using that same Firewall in two directions: if it doesn't want outsiders to be able to access certain documents, it will block foreigners from reaching certain sites within the country as well.

Perhaps the most interesting revelation, however, goes back to the ridiculous denials by Chinese officials that the Great Firewall exists. According to Fallows' sources, during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the Great Firewall will be mostly turned off, so that visiting foreigners won't notice any problems accessing foreign sites, and will (or so officials hope) tell people that the concept that China is blocking many popular sites is simply a myth.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    fuse5k, Feb 21st, 2008 @ 12:04pm

    so, what about the chinese people?

    wont they suddenly reaise that huge chunks of the internet have appeared from nowhere?

    doesnt make much sense really...

    although i suppose i for one wouldnt be doing much surfing on chinese sites, and i suppose your average chinese wouldnt be doing much surfing on english websites, basically because of the language factor..

    Although that said, the average shinese person has probably never seen a computer to be honest...

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

  2. identicon
    J. Frank, Feb 21st, 2008 @ 12:16pm

    Red China

    The article about the ChiComs denying there is a "great firewall" that blocks it's citizens from viewing "objectionable sites" is typical Commie crap. This is the kind of crap all Americans will have to put up with if the Progressive Socialists like Obama and Clinton get in. Wake up America. Look into what these Socialists will do if/when they get into office. The democrats depend on their base, the stupid, the lazy, and the victims. Ignorance is this country's most expensive liability.

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

  3. identicon
    Bob, Feb 21st, 2008 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Red China

    Don't hurt yourself when you land from that leap...

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

  4. identicon
    Johnny, Feb 21st, 2008 @ 12:20pm

    Re: so, what about the chinese people?


    you are missing the point. There will be many visitors to the country, and they will be using the internet.

    The purpose of the article is to imply, they might be turning it off so those visitors do not experience blocked sites. and therefore report that china is not censoring nearly as much as the world thinks.


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

  5. identicon
    F. J. McMurrey, Feb 21st, 2008 @ 12:21pm

    Right on J. Frank. The founding fathers are spinning in their graves at high RPM. What happened to personal responsibility and rugged individualism which this country grew on. Now it made up of the entitlement bunch all with their greedy hands out saying "what's in it for me." Thank you 60s generation you miserable scumbags for driving this country into the dirt.

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

  6. identicon
    Zappata, Feb 21st, 2008 @ 12:24pm

    Commie China

    FuseK5. You're an idiot. A commie is a commie. They're not so bad??? Give me a break.

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

  7. identicon
    Overcast, Feb 21st, 2008 @ 12:24pm

    Seems to me they - if anything, would just open up the route for the hotels and such they expect to be filled with the tourists.

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

  8. identicon
    fuse5k, Feb 21st, 2008 @ 12:37pm

    idiot? me?


    My point was that china do not only deny that the great firewall exists to us (the west) it also deny's it to its own people...

    I just thought that it might be a bit strange for the chinese people to be on an uncensored internet, if only for a while...


    i dont think for one minute that china gives a fuck what the west thinks... i think that they would much rather just keep the wool over the eyes of the re own people... the massive influx of westerners into china for the olympics will cause them to have to disable the firewall, only because they would have no deniability if it did..

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

  9. identicon
    Access From Where, Feb 21st, 2008 @ 12:53pm

    >> wont they suddenly reaise that huge chunks of the internet have appeared from nowhere?

    Ah... here's an interesting bit.. I think the answer will be "it depends where the access takes place".

    In the Olympic Villages and the official media centers, you can bet the Internet will be wide open in both directions.

    Now.. go a few blocks to a local internet cafe and compare. Who wants to place a bet it's going to be different?

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

  10. identicon
    TriZz, Feb 21st, 2008 @ 1:14pm

    Re: so, what about the chinese people?

    The Chinese people won't be able to tell the difference, because they know what they can and can't access. I probably access the same 10 sites everyday and rarely (for normal use) do I extend beyond those sites.

    It's not like their browser will pop up and say "90% of the Internet just became readily available".

    I'm a network admin, and we have certain sites blocked (myspace, youtube...etc) and when our subscription to our firewall expired accidentally, we left them unblocked for awhile. People didn't realize that their favorite sites became available because they stopped trying at work.

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

  11. identicon
    mave, Feb 21st, 2008 @ 1:27pm

    Everyone in China who has the access to the internet knows the fire wall exists. For quite some time, you can not even access google from China.

    With the help of Cisco and other american companies, the chinese government improved the technology significantly.

    Now if you are trying to access any webpage contains certain words or phrases which are in the filter list, you will be disconnected for a few minutes to the other side of the wall (from outside to china or from china to outside).

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

  12. identicon
    Charming Charlie, Feb 22nd, 2008 @ 12:52am

    I live in Beijing and just facepalmed my way through comments 1-8.

    When you try to access a blocked site, you get a typical message:

    Could not connect to remote server

    You tried to access the address, which is currently unavailable. Please make sure that the Web address (URL) is correctly spelled and punctuated, then try reloading the page.

    Or in Internet Explorer:
    The page cannot be displayed
    The page you are looking for is currently unavailable. The Web site might be experiencing technical difficulties, or you may need to adjust your browser settings.

    Your entire internet connection is not disabled. You are just "blocked" from access to the site in question. And if you're Chinese or foriegn alike, you know you've been blocked and that the site is not just down temporarily.

    -China, as a nation of people, and China as a single-party government, care deeply what the West think of them. That's why they so badly wanted to win an Olympic bid. That's why so much of media discourse is related to what other countries say and report about China. Don't let your fantasies of an evil, oppressive, Red China encourage you to create your own facts.

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

  13. identicon
    Spuds, Feb 22nd, 2008 @ 7:19am

    Re: Red China

    I don't know where you're getting your information, but Democrats are neither stupid nor lazy. In all of my experience, it's the Republicans that get "fed" their information by Fox News, Rush, etc.. and rarely care to do any of their own investigation to find out what is REALLY going on in the world.

    I can smell a Republican like a fart in a car, because all of their rhetoric sounds exactly the same. They're told what to say by Bill O'Reilly, Rush, Fox News and all of the other spinmasters out there.

    This article wasn't about Democrats / Republicans... but somehow there's always "That Guy" (you) who turns it into a divisional battle along party lines.

    Wasn't it the BUSH administration.... the person "in power" now that wanted to inspect ALL internet traffic looking for 'terrrists'? You need clarity. If ever you decide you want to think for yourself and get the facts, let me know. I'll be more than happy to show you where the real power and liberty is in this country. You make it for yourself.

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

  14. identicon
    dorpus, Feb 22nd, 2008 @ 9:34am

    Bestial Chinese Athletes

    In news that doesn't get reported in China, Chinese soccer players have a habit of beating up foreign players and getting their referees to penalize foreign athletes for getting beat up. Ealier this week, Chinese players choked a Japanese goalie and knocked out half a dozen other Japanese players when they were losing an East Asia cup game. Despite the violence, Japanese won anyway. atch?v=l_cv1Qc4r0w

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

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