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The Great Firewall of China


Country uses censorship to make sure PCs stay PC.

Last week, China issued an order mandating all personal computers sold in the country come preloaded with software to filter "unhealthy information" out of the Internet. China's Internet restrictions are already among the most heavy-handed on the planet, blocking sites like Google's (GOOG) YouTube, Yahoo's (YHOO) Flickr, and even Microsoft's (MSFT) Hotmail in advance of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre for fear that the citizenry might see or read unsanitized versions of the events.

Also permanently blocked are writings in favor of Tibet, the Falun Gong movement, and other subjects deemed inappropriate for the 300 million Chinese minds that currently have access to the Web.

"This is a very bad thing," Charles Mok, chairman of the Hong Kong chapter of the Internet Society -- an international advisory group on Internet standards -- told the New York Times. "It's like downloading spyware onto your computer, but the government is the spy."

"I would advise dissidents to buy computers before July 1, [when the new restrictions come into effect]," Clothilde Le Coz, head of the Internet freedom desk of Reporters Without Borders, also told the Times.

Over 40 million PCs were sold last year in China, so obviously hardware manufacturers are reluctant to pull out. But censorship is something other companies have been dealing with for some time now.

Google self-censors search results within China in exchange for being allowed to do business in-country.

Take a look at the difference. Here's what a search for "Tiananmen Square" returns for non-Chinese users:

Within China, here's what appears:

Julian Pain, Internet spokesman for campaign group Reporters Without Borders, told a reporter that "Google's decision to collaborate with the Chinese government was a real shame."
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