In light of the recent blocking of websites in India and the cries of "CENSORSHIP!" all across Twitter, spare a thought for our Chinese neighbours who have long been suffering beneath the cudgels of the Great Firewall of China. Censorship of the Internet in China began in the late 90s and soon developed into an insidious program that controls not only what the country's citizens can access, but even what they can talk about on the Internet. In other words, besides blocking individual webpages and websites, the "Golden Shield" project also monitors keywords used in social networking, blogs and chat applications. An estimated 30,000 government employees help with this filtering.
Furthermore, the press are discouraged from linking to any overseas sites without prior permission.
Capriciousness is an inherent attribute of the Great Firewall. The website block list is ever changing with sites rendered inaccessible for days on end with brief bursts of accessibility every now and then. Here's a small sample of the sites consistently blocked in China:
- Google Plus
- Reporters Without Borders
[dramatic pause for effect]
Some sites are accessible only from certain parts of the country. There are of course ways to get around these blocks, once you know how. But the average citizen's Internet experience is guided by the benevolent Politburo at all times which overhauls its restrictions on a regular basis to account for changes in technology.