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Chinese Activist Calls for Internet Boycott on July 1st

23 06 2009 – From July 1st and onwards, all PCs sold in China must be shipped with an Internet filtering program called Green Dam. This application, besides being a possible security risk, is supposed to protect the people of China from online pornography, but it could also be used to monitor their online activities and block other, non-pornographic sites.

In protest of this action from the Chinese government, Chinese artist, architect and activist Ai Weiwei has called all Chinese Internet users to stop all online activities on July 1st. “Stop any online activities, including working, reading, chatting, blogging, gaming and mailing. Don’t explain your behavior,” he wrote on Twitter.

Ai is perhaps best known as the artistic consultant for design of the the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics, also known as the “Bird’s Nest,” a project he later distanced himself from. He also started an investigation into student casualties in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, collecting a list of over 5,000 names. He published his findings on his blog, which has been subsequently shut down.

It is hard to judge how effective Weiwei’s call to action will be, since his online communication has been heavily monitored, censored and partly shut down. Furthermore, it’s hard to imagine all of China boycotting all online activities for even one small part of the work day, especially those who have to be online to be able to work. However, if the boycott turns out to be even partly successful, it’ll show that there’s a significant portion of Chinese people who aren’t happy with the introduction of Green Dam – however innocent the authorities claim it will be – and censorship in general.

Source: mashable.com

The Great Firewall of China Goes Local

08 06 2009 – Last week we wrote about China’s blockade of most major social networks and search engines during the anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre on 4th of June. Now, the Chinese authorities want to take it a step further, ordering that all PCs sold in the country, starting July 1, must come with software that blocks certain websites.

According to the Chinese government, who haven’t yet gone public with the announcement, but have warned PC makers about the deadline, this measure’s aim is to protect the Chinese from harmful content, primarily pornography. But since this same government has blocked sites like Twitter, YouTube, MySpace and Bing, it’s quite possible that this software’s primary aim is adding another layer of censorship over the existing Great Firewall.

The Chinese authorities have, however, taken a somewhat lax approach – for now. According to the WSJ, the software, whose Chinese name is “Green Dam-Youth Escort” needn’t be pre-installed on the PCs; it may simply come in the form of a CD, and the users can choose whether they want to install it or not. The software is designed in such a way that it allows transferring of user’s private information, as well as blocking sites other than pornography; according to software’s developer, Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co, it would have no reason to do so. It doesn’t sound very convincing, and given a choice, I’d definitely skip it; it’s unclear, however, whether the authorities plan to somehow pressure users into installing the software.

There’s always hope that the PC makers will try to resist these claims from the Chinese authorities, but it’s hard to imagine them saying no, given the importance of the Chinese market. Furthermore, as we’ve seen in this latest blockade, there’s always a technical workaround for these types of censorship attempts. However, if Chinese censors had control of what happens on user computers locally, as well as being able to block certain online destinations, it would make it much harder for users to circumvent such measures.

Source: mashable

Νέα οδηγία για την εισαγωγή υπολογιστών στην Κίνα

03 06 2009 – Με συγκεκριμένο, εγκεκριμένο από τις αρχές λογισμικό ελέγχου των ιστοσελίδων θα εισάγονται πλέον οι υπολογιστές στην Κίνα σύμφωνα με απόφαση του υπουργείου Βιομηχανίας και Πληροφορικής.

image Το πρόγραμμα «Πράσινο Φράγμα» λειτουργεί σαν φίλτρο επισκεψιμότητας ιστοσελίδων, δίνοντας τη δυνατότητα σε αυτόν που το ελέγχει να παραμετροποιεί τις ιστοσελίδες και το περιεχόμενο στο οποίο έχει πρόσβαση ο χρήστης.

«Κατόπιν δοκιμών, το λογισμικό αυτό κρίθηκε κατάλληλο στο να εμποδίζει την πρόσβαση σε μη υγιές περιεχόμενο, εικόνες και κείμενα στο ίντερνετ», αναφέρει η σχετική ανακοίνωση.
Σύμφωνα με την ειδοποίηση, οι υπολογιστές που θα πωλούνται στην Κίνα θα πρέπει να έχουν προ-εγκατεστημένη την τελευταία έκδοση του «Πράσινου Φράγματος», το οποίο θα βρίσκεται στον σκληρό δίσκο του υπολογιστή αλλά και στο συνοδευτικό CD επαναφοράς του συστήματος. Παράλληλα, το εν λόγω λογισμικό θα έχει διαμορφωθεί ώστε να είναι συμβατό με τους υπολογιστές που εισάγονται στη χώρα.
Το μέτρο θα ξεκινήσει να εφαρμόζεται από την 1η Ιουλίου.

Πηγή: forthnet.gr