Climbing the Great Firewall of China

by beagooddad on July 2, 2009

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The Chinese government has a firewall that they use to block websites that they don’t like. Most of the sites blocked that I’ve heard about are ones that either let people within China voice their thoughts about things going on in the country or that provide information that people in the country could use to get a better idea of what is really going on in the world.

I have a fairly thorough Zero Tolerance program for government censorship. I’m perfectly capable of deciding what is appropriate for myself and my children, thank you very much.

My wife has a friend who moved to China when her husband accepted a position in his company over there. They are going to be there 2-3 years if I remember correctly. She wanted to set up a WordPress hosted blog to share photos and stories of her kid(s) and daily life over there so that friends and family back here could keep up with her life.

Last month was the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests. China started blocking sites like Twitter, Flickr, some news sites, etc. One of the things on the list happened to be WordPress hosted sites.

Since all of the WordPress domains are subdomains of the wordpress.com domain, the firewall just has to block anything that has wordpress.com in it’s domain. So, myneatsite.wordpress.com gets blocked just by the Chinese government blocking all *.wordpress.com sites.

Sucky.

My wife’s friend couldn’t share her pictures with her friends and family.

Shame on you Chinese government.

I believe a lot of those blocked sites are now available for use inside China once again but rather than waiting for the next act of censorship or trying to constantly find ways through the firewall, I’m going to set up a real self-hosted WordPress site with her own domain (that the government won’t be able to block unless they specifically block her domain) so that she can keep in touch with her friends.

To a great degree, I really don’t care what a person believes or what they want to know and/or never learn but when governments start deciding what we are allowed to have a chance to read or believe or learn, I get pretty pissed.

For the record, I’m of course not the only one who gets pissed by this sort of stuff. There is in fact a fairly large organization in the US that specifically fights for our electronic rights. They are called the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the stuff they do is very important.

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