In class today, April 5, 2012, I will talk about internet censorship, specifically the Great Firewall of China, the largest and most effective internet censorship project to date. Officially known as the Golden Shield Project, development of the Great Firewall of China started soon after internet came to China. Started in the 1990s, the original idea was to have a comprehensive surveillance system that included speech and facial recognition, video monitoring, etc. It seemed like a mix of 1984 and V for Vendetta. However, this ultimate goal was never reached. The internet expanded so fast, that it was hard enough for the Chinese to keep up with the firewall, that they did not have the time or resources to implement everything else. The project was officially done being installed and integrated in 2008, but it is still updated almost every day.
The Great Firewall uses four main techniques to keep people in China from accessing censored material:
1. IP Blocking
2. TCP Connection Cut-Off
3. URL Blocking
4. Content Scanning
Together these methods work to make sure that you cannot access anything that they have on their “blacklist”. The thing is, things on the “blacklist” change everyday, depending on what’s going on in the world. For instance, some news sites may be available most of the time, but if one day they have an article about riots in Tibet, the site will be blocked that day, and become available again when the article goes away.
This project has signifiganctly impacted the effect of the internet in China. Everyone and everything from your common citizen to mega companies like Google have to deal with it. The system is so effective and high tech, that China has made a business out of exporting its technologies. The Great Firewall of China has taken internet censorship to the ultimate extreme.