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Quick Hits: Scaling the Great Firewall of China


Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

Want to feel burdened by a tyrannical regime hell-bent on suppressing free information through widespread media censorship? Well, now you can! A new Firefox plugin called China Channel redirects your IP address to the People's Republic of China. As soon as the plugin is activated, Internet access is limited to those services approved by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology - in other words, not a whole lot. Call it suppression by proxy.

It's a perfect chance to discover why some call it the Great Firewall of China.

China is widely considered the biggest offender in Internet censorship. The Guardian estimates close to 30,000 members of the Internet police force in Beijing are on routine watch for "problem information" - you know, news sites, Wikipedia and blogs. As the Firefox extension demonstrates, searching "Tienanmen protest" or "Dalai Lama," for example, will cause you to lose your Internet access.

Some of the more technically-savvy Internet users in China reroute their browsing sessions to proxies in other countries, thereby sidestepping the censorship and staying under the Internet watchdogs' radar.

Evan Roth and Aram Bartholl, the men behind the browser extension, have said they wanted to reveal the extensive restrictions the Chinese government has placed on free media. In an art exhibition in Hong Kong -- where censorship is more lax -- they erected 2 side-by-side monitors that display the stark differences between normal and restricted access. The goal? Bring even more unwanted attention the Chinese government's suppression of information.
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