Internet Censorship in China

Internet Censorship in China

Treasa Nic Giolla Chomhaill (Computer Science Department, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Ireland), Nigel McKelvey (Computer Science Department, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Ireland), Kevin Curran (School of Computing and Intelligent Systems, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland) and Nadarajah Subaginy (School of Computing and Intelligent Systems, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch137

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Censorship has always been prevalent in China and its media. The CCP introduced the people of China to the Internet in 1990. From the beginning of this introduction the Internet was treated no different to any other form of media and so came with it. It is only set of censorship laws. Some would argue that regulating the Internet is a good thing if the intention is to prevent such crimes as child pornography, and other online criminal acts. It is written in the constitution of China that every citizen is granted the right to freedom of speech; however these censorship laws seem to contradict this right to freedom of speech (Bennett, 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Network Disconnection: A technically simpler method of Internet censorship is to completely cut off all routers, either by software or by hardware (turning off machines, pulling out cables) e.g. Egypt in 2011.

Internet Protocol (IP) Address Blocking: Access to a certain IP address is denied. If the target Web site is hosted in a shared hosting server, all websites on the same server will be blocked. This affects IP-based protocols such as HTTP, FTP and POP.

Connection Reset: If a previous TCP connection is blocked by the filter, future connection attempts from both sides can also be blocked for some variable amount of time. Depending on the location of the block, other users or websites may also be blocked, if the communication is routed through the blocking location. A circumvention method is to ignore the reset packet sent by the firewall.

Packet Filtering: Terminate TCP packet transmissions when a certain number of controversial keywords are detected. This affects all TCP-based protocols such as HTTP, FTP and POP, but Search engine results pages are more likely to be censored.

Internet Censorship: The control or suppression of what can be accessed, published, or viewed on the Internet. It may be carried out by governments or by private organizations at the behest of government, regulators, or on their own initiative. Individuals and organizations may engage in self-censorship for moral, religious, or business reasons, to conform to societal norms, due to intimidation, or out of fear of legal or other consequence.

Over- and Under-Blocking: Technical censorship techniques are subject to both over- and under-blocking since it is often impossible to always block exactly the targeted content without blocking other permissible material or allowing some access to targeted material and so providing more or less protection than desired.

Computer Network Attacks: Denial-of-service attacks and attacks that deface opposition websites can produce the same result as other blocking techniques, preventing or limiting access to certain websites or other online services, although only for a limited period of time. This technique might be used during the lead up to an election or some other sensitive period. It is more frequently used by non-state actors seeking to disrupt services.

Domain Name System (DNS) Filtering and Redirection: Blocked domain names are not resolved, or an incorrect IP address is returned via DNS hijacking or other means. This affects all IP-based protocols such as HTTP, FTP and POP. A typical circumvention method is to find an Alternative DNS root that resolves domain names correctly, but domain name servers are subject to blockage as well, especially IP address blocking.

Uniform Resource Locator Filtering: URL strings are scanned for target keywords regardless of the domain name specified in the URL. This affects the HTTP protocol. Typical circumvention methods are to use escaped characters in the URL, or to use encrypted protocols such as VPN and TLS/SSL.

Splinternet: The term sometimes used to describe the effects of national firewalls. The verb “rivercrab” colloquially refers to censorship of the Internet, particularly in Asia.

Portal Censorship and Search Result Removal: Major portals, including search engines, may exclude web sites that they would ordinarily include. This renders a site invisible to people who do not know where to find it.

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