6/4 & Censorware

tiananmen.jpg Today, June 4 2004, is the 15 anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre and the world is remembering. The authorities are trying to snuff out any protest and maintaining a strict censorship policy, including Internet censorship. The cyberpolice keep a close watch over the Internet and restrict access to many web sites. In the past, researchers have attempted to document censored content and various methods of Internet filtering in China. But one aspect of Internet filtering that has not been fully explored is censorware products targeted at the client/small network level and implemented in schools, libraries, and web cafe’s.

In China, domestic firms have developed Internet security software, including content filtering software which is approved by Ministry of Public Security. This software, acting like other commercially available products, block access to a wide variety of websites that contain pornographic, violent and other “objectionable content” including politically sensitive topics. These products are primarily marketed to parents, schools, and web café’s. In addition to extensive website blocking, these products also monitor and store information on users’ Internet browsing. Furthermore, the software can often be set up to alert authorities when attempts are made to access banned content.

filterking.gif A popular content filtering product in China is Filter King. Filter King is available in several versions including an enterprise net management systems, family version and campus gateway. Filter King blocks websites which fall into categories such as pornography, gambling, narcotics, violence, cults and reactionary doctrines. It contains key word filtering options, block list and white list configurations and records detailed logs of users’ Internet activity.

net110.gif Another well known product is Net Police 110, software that is targeted towards Internet café’s. In addition to the blocking of pornography and violent materials Net Police 110 also blocks politically sensitive websites. Xinhua News reported that Net Police 110 has built-in ability to notify police of Internet transgressions in real time and also provides the police with full logs of browsing history including visited websites and key words used in search engines.

Note that the information used for this entry was translated with Babelfish, which indicates my inability to read Chinese one of the main reasons why these products remain unexamined.

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