Sunday, November 30, 2008

Insiders Look At...

...The Internet In China

This is a special post for my Geek friends living outside China. Firefox has a plug-in (China Channel) so that you can experience using the internet behind the Great (Fire)Wall of China without leaving the comfort of your own home….It’s a great way to save you a lot of money on plane tickets!

It will slow down your browsing and even makes some web sites inaccessible for no discernible reason. After installation, getting to experience Web surfing the way the Chinese do isn't hard at all. Users have three ways to activate China Channel: via the China Channel toolbar, a navigation bar button that you must drag and drop onto the bar to get access to, and a status bar button. The buttons function by opening a menu, from which you choose to switch from None to the China Channel. Much like the IE Tab extension, the page will then render as if your IP address is inside China.
The toolbar is interesting for a slightly different workflow that results in a Web page that informs you of your IP address and its country of origin. Choose the China Channel from the drop down, and then hit the big red Go button. With China Channel activated, the page will declare that the plug-in has been activated. Switch back to None and refresh the page, and it changes to reflect your proxy server-free surfing experience.

The tool makes a point of just how severe Internet censorship is in China, going beyond government hot-topic issue like T1bet and T1ann@men Squ@are to that of Wikipedia or even my Blog*, which as you know has highly sensitive material (where to shop, where to eat, who is the town best hairdresser…). Sensitive material seems to be permanently blocked; the 30,000 employees of the Great Firewall appear to apply their censorship in a more arbitrary manner for less topical web sites.

* Wikipedia and my Blog are not censored as I’m writing this but might be in a few hours minutes!