Hey China. Censor this!
6/4/89: Date of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
64.89: Amount the Shanghai Stock Exchange fell on Monday, the 23rd anniversary of that event.
In a country where numerology is taken very seriously, Chinese censors quickly began blocking searches for “stock market,” “Shanghai stock,” “Shanghai stock market,” “index” and other related terms. They also deleted large numbers of microblog postings about the numerical fluke.
And even before tens of thousands of demonstrators, clad mostly in black, gathered several hours later around Victoria Park in downtown Hong Kong for the annual vigil, censors were also blocking searches for “Victoria Park,” “black clothes,” “silent tribute” and even “today.”
At bottom, the sex party is vexing for the Party because it highlights the gap between the artifice of official solemnity and the unadorned reality beneath, a gap that has become more pronounced in recent years as the Web eats away at the monopoly on authority. …
Until the hive moves on, government censors are seeing to tamp down the discussion. The State Council Information Office has sent out an advisory to Chinese news and discussion portals: “All websites must stop following and hyping the so-called ‘Lujiang Indecent Photos Incident.’ Interactive platforms must quickly remove all related photos.”
[BTW, I love the keyword tags for this post: China, censorship, corruption, orgy, and swingers. I clicked on “orgy,” just to see what it would yield. Shockingly, not a common topic in The New Yorker. Same goes for “swingers.”]
NYTimes.com — yes, the entire site — has been blocked since a few hours after this story went live. First time that’s happened since I moved here a year ago.
China Blocks Google
China’s blocked pretty much all of Google as its 18th Party Congress to choose new leaders takes place. Services down include Mail, Maps, Docs, and Google Analytics among others.
Via the Washington Post:
Google and many of its most popular subdomains, including Google e-mail, have been blocked by a “DNS poison” in China, according to Chinese Web monitoring site GreatFire.org, an extraordinary step in Web censorship even for the Chinese government. Attempting to access the Google services in China leads to a vacant IP address.
Via GreatFire.org, which monitors online censorship in China and reported the block:
We’ve argued before that the authorities didn’t dare to fully block GMail since it has too many users already. Fully blocking Google goes much further. … According to Alexa, it’s the Top 5 most used website in China. Never before have so many people been affected by a decision to block a website. If Google stays blocked, many more people in China will become aware of the extent of censorship. How will they react? Will there be protests?
Image: Twitter screenshot from GreatFire.org
This has been a major pain in the ass. When my VPN kept crapping out on me last week, I visited my provider’s customer support page and found a special “CHINA USERS - Nov 6th, 2012” note; they actually updated the software. (It works now, sort of.)
Via the New York Times:
As the Chinese cyberpolice stiffened controls on information before the Communist Party leadership transition taking place this week, some companies in Beijing and nearby cities received orders to aid the cause.
Starting earlier this year, Web police units directed the companies, which included joint ventures involving American corporations, to buy and install hardware to log the traffic of hundreds or thousands of computers, block selected Web sites, and connect with local police servers, according to industry executives and official directives obtained by The New York Times. Companies faced the threat of fines and suspended Internet service if they did not comply by prescribed deadlines.
The initiative was one in a range of shadowy tactics authorities deployed in the months leading up to the 18th Party Congress, which is scheduled to end on Wednesday, in an escalating campaign against information deemed threatening to party rule. The effort, while spottily executed, was alarming enough to spur one foreign industry association to lodge a complaint with the government. Several foreign companies quietly resisted the orders, which posed risks to communications and trade secrets that they take pains to secure.
The Times article notes one local company was told it would be fined approximately $2,400 and lose Internet access for six months if it did not install the required hardware and software.