Cyber activists are pushing back against the Chinese government's censorship of foreign media websites by taking advantage of an apparent weakness in China's enormous internet control apparatus, the Great Firewall.
China recently blocked the Wall Street Journal's and Reuters' Chinese-language websites after both ran stories on a New York Times piece that revealed business connections between JP Morgan Chase and Lily Chang, daughter of former premier Wen Jiabao. The New York Times' English and Chinese-language sites have been blocked since 2012.
Charlie Smith, co-founder of GreatFire.org, a site that monitors internet censorship in China, has helped find a way to make these sites accessible in China without the need of firewall-circumventing software. The strategy involves creating replicas of existing sites, also known as mirror sites, which Beijing is unable to block without shutting down a significant portion of overall internet traffic. GreatFire.org created a mirror site for Reuters Chinese that can be accessed in China.
The mirror sites are special because instead of using their own domains, they use a subpath of Amazon or Google's domains. Chinese authorities can't block the mirror sites without blocking the entire domains for Amazon and Google.
GreatFire.org also uses the method of mirroring for its own blocked website, FreeWeibo.com. Free Weibo displays Weibo content that has been blocked by Sina and the Chinese Communist Party.
The Chinese have long used annoying tactics like internet censorship, denials of visas to journalists and verbal warnings when they feel threatened by foreign news agencies. Mirror sites are more vital than ever, especially now that western media outlets like Bloomberg are choosing self-censorship in exchange for financial gain. Will free speech prevail?
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