I read an interesting article a couple of weeks ago, about how Myanmar has recently unblocked access to the popular social networking site – Facebook. Mynamar (or Burma) was one of the very few countries in the world which was blocking access to this site. Now the reason it was quite interesting and just a little bit funny was the article was written by the Chinese Ministry of information and technology. At the end of the article they mentioned that the social networking site was now only inaccessible in four countries – Iran, North Korea, Cuba and “another country”.
That other country is of course China itself, and you can sense the shame that the Chinese Government feel to be part of that list. A country that wants to trade with the rest of the world, that wants to be part of the open and free economy of the world – because of it’s oppressive internet filtering is included in a list of the most oppressive countries in the world. Which of course is why they refer to themselves as ‘another country’ when appearing on these lists.
Burma has of course changed drastically in the last year or so, with many political prisoners being released and the barriers of the previous oppressive regimes gradually being torn down. China is looking increasingly isolated with it’s huge Great Firewall and internet monitoring facilities across the country. Facebook is not the only site blocked of course, there are thousands of others which encourage free speech. The Chinese population are of course well used to this and spend much of their time circumventing these filters.
This video for example, shows how you can use a popular security software to bypass these blocks by routing through a proxy.
The technology war is growing however for this sort of censorship, most countries don’t get anywhere near restricting access – China is probably one of the exceptions purely based on the resources it pours into their efforts. Yet still there are many thousands of proxies, VPNs and other methods available to bypass any sort of firewall. Many experts believe that the only way you can completely control access is by pretty much blocking everything like North Korea does, which has effectively just shut off the internet to all but a few high ranking citizens.