Reality and GFW Redux

Nicholas Kristoff of the NY Times created two blogs on hosting services in China and posted content intended to be provactive. To his “frustration” he was not immediately censored (other than crude filtering, such as replacing keywords with asterizes). This expectation of instant censorship stems from myths surrounding internet censorship in China. Kristoff repeats the 30,000 internet police myth although referring to ineptitude rather than the usual omnipotence. This demonstration leads Kristoff to conclude that “the Internet is just too big and complex for State Security to control” and that he doesn’t “see how the Communist Party dictatorship can long survive the Internet”.

It’s funny. There always seems to be two approaches to the topic of censorship in China: the “1984” and the “technoptimist”.

The “1984” approach overstates China’s capabilties claiming that legions of internet police monitor everything in “real time” and are just one kick away if you make the wrong click. The “technoptimist” approach understates China’s capabilites and claims that the internet is a democracy-battering-ram chipping away at the crumbling walls of oppressive regimes.

Both are short on detail and long on hubris.

So, here’s a repost of “Reality and GFW” Part 1 and Part 2.

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