A Crack Appears in the ‘Great Firewall of China’

March 26, 2008 04:30 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
In China, the government censors much of the Internet. But users detected a loosening of restrictions on Tuesday when the BBC Web site became available.

30-Second Summary

Last week other Internet users in China said they could access the English-language version of the BBC site, although British IT news site The Register maintains it could always be reached “if you knew your way around a proxy server service” or by having political connections.

The BBC’s Chinese-language sites are still blocked, however.

"We will endeavor to continue working with the Chinese authorities to improve our access in other areas,” said Steve Herrmann, editor of the BBC’s Web site.

Participants on message board were skeptical about the longevity of the lift in censorship, writing comments including “I doubt it'll last, but refreshing to see all the same.”

China’s Ministry of Information Industry programs routers to ban keywords and URLs selected by the Communist Party’s Propaganda Department and the State Council Information Office. The system has been nicknamed the "Great Firewall of China.”

The government also monitors e-mail communications and sites viewed. Yahoo has been accused of complicity with the Chinese government in cybermonitoring in connection with the prosecution of four Chinese writers.

Yahoo CEO and co-founder Jerry Yang testified in front of Congress in November 2007 regarding any role the search engine may have played in the case of Shi Tao, a journalist who was caught discussing the Tiananmen Square riots via his Yahoo Mail account.

Headline Link: ‘BBC Web site “unblocked in China”’

Background: Internet censorship in China

Reactions: ‘Check Tomorrow and Then We'll Know if It's a Fluke’

Historical Context: Other famous sites behind the firewall


Opinion & Analysis: Always accessible but with obstacles

Reference: The Global Online Freedom Act


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