What It's Like to Surf the Net Behind the Great Firewall of China

#GeorgeOrwell

Thu, Mar 22nd, 2012 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

Troy Hunt, a software architect and Microsoft MVP, decided to test what it was like to surf the Internet from behind the Great Firewall of China. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook -- among many other sites -- are blocked. The article is lengthy, but it is fascinating to see the results from the various sites he visits. And while some are blocked for obvious politico/economical reasons, other make absolutely no sense.

However, what surprised Troy the most were the inconsistencies: you may not be able to visit Twitter, but Tweets will still reach your mobile phone and you can still post them. You may not be able to read a particular article on a blog, but you can see it through Instapaper. And so on.

Speaking to folks in China, it seems that the filtering is somewhat erratic. Some resources that couldn't be accessed yesterday, can be today. And vice versa. This is consistent with the observation I made earlier on; sometimes things load just fine, sometimes they don't. Who knows what you're going to get each time you fire up the browser; will the deep packet inspection kick in and withhold the request? Who knows.

For me, that was really the most frustrating thing as I never knew whether the connection had just dropped (hotel WiFi has a habit of doing that), or if the site was being censored. Personally, I would have been happy to have seen a government page saying the site was off limits -- at least its explicit feedback. And it's exactly the same problem when I send folks in China a link as I have no idea whether they can access it or not. You can't tell from domain alone whether it might be on Blogger or Heroku and therefore off limits (you're not going to run a WHOIS against every link you send).

Read the full article here.

You can also check a list of The Most Censored Words On The Chinese Internet.

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