Originally published: January 18, 2010
Last updated: November 29, 2010 - 11:32am
The Great Firewall of China is hardly impregnable.
Just as Mongol invaders could not be stopped by the Great Wall, Chinese citizens have found ways to circumvent the sophisticated Internet censorship systems designed to restrict them. They are using a variety of tools to evade government filters and to reach the wide-open Web that the Chinese government deems dangerous — sites like YouTube, Facebook and, if Google makes good on its threat to withdraw from China, Google.cn. It's difficult to say precisely how many people in China engage in acts of digital disobedience. But college students in China and activists around the world say the number has been growing ever since the government stepped up efforts to "cleanse" the Web during the Beijing Olympics and the Communist regime's 60th anniversary last year. As part of that purge, the Chinese government shut down access to pornography sites, blogs, online video sites, Facebook, Twitter and more.
While only a small percentage of Chinese use these tools to sidestep government filters, the ease with which they can do it illustrates the difficulty any government faces in enforcing the type of strict censorship that was possible only a few years ago.
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