The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Thursday, January 09, 2003


One of the mottoes of the Internet is this quote attributed to John Gilmore: "The Internet sees censorship as damage, and routes around it." Now that China has censored blogger.com -- assuming this is not a temporary glitch in the way that censorship works -- what "routing around" can the Chinese do to defeat the blocking?

Two workarounds occurred to me. (Disclaimer: I am not a security expert. I did spell "occurred" right though. I spell-checked it.) First, there is the Google cache. China has made noises about censoring Google but has backed off; if Google is safe so is Blogger (though of course there will be some time lag).

Another possibility is proxies. A proxy allows you to go to a web page, submit a URL, and have the proxy serve the page for you. This defeats censorship because the local routers don't see the proxied site, just the URL of the proxy. I Googled a bit to find proxies, and all the ones I found were anonymizers, like anonymizer.com.

The problem with proxies is that if the censors figure out that proxies are being used, they will block the proxy site. It would help if some interested private individuals could step up to fill in this breach by donating their servers to become proxies for Chinese web surfers. If the Chinese catch on, no big deal, you just take your server offline and pat yourself on the back for doing your bit in the fight against tyranny.


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