Chinese Online Green Dam Breached by Virtual Private Networks

Published Monday, March 07, 2011 -

China is known for it far reaching attempts to control internet use by its citizens. The green dam or great firewall of China has been censoring the content on the internet with a great deal of success for a number of years. Twitter, Facebook and Google are all restricted web locations with a special emphasis on other sites that are critical of the political leaders of the nation as well as gambling and pornography.
Now an electrical technology major at China’s Yanshan University in Qinhuangdao, He Xin has discovered a method to circumvent the censorship methods.  He uses UltraReach Internet Corp.’s free Ultrasurf, one of the growing number of Virtual Private Networks. The nation’s 457 million Internet users, the world’s largest, has been increasing every year, with the number of those users climbing over the censorship wall increasing too. Facebook has been blocked in the country since 2009, but the number of Facebook users has increased to an estimated 700,000 in recent years.

Alvin Chan, who teaches computing at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong commented that “Proxy servers are a key technology that is at the center of how the Internet works, so it can’t simply be indiscriminately banned,” Virtual Private Networks are mainly used by companies to give employees secured access to corporate networks. The way the technology is being used to circumvent Web censors is an “unintended offshoot,”

AnchorFree Inc., a California based firm reported that it saw 1.5 million people using its free VPN service in China during January, a 25 percent increase from the previous month. The internet in China is still relatively secure but as technology and the desire to have the choice that most western countries enjoy becomes stronger so will Chinese government efforts to censor. Online gambling in China may one day be widely available but not any time in the near future.


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