China: Online Behavior, Censorship, and Innovation

September 12, 2017

My recollection of China is fuzzy. The place is big, so details are tiny fragments. That’s why I find reports like “China’s Ever-Tighter Web Controls Jolt Companies, Scientists.” The operative words are “control” and “jolt” in the headline.

I noted these “real” facts:

  • Consumer research firm GlobalWebIndex said a survey of Chinese Web surfers this year found 14 percent use a VPN daily.
  • 8.8 percent of people in the survey use VPNs to look at “restricted sites”
  • [China’s] government spokespeople refuse to acknowledge any site is blocked, though researchers say they can see attempts to reach sites such as Google stopped within servers operated by state-owned China Telecom Ltd., which controls China’s links to the global internet.
  • The agency in charge of the crackdown [is] the Cyberspace Administration of China

As I noted in my short article “Dark Web Explained” in the Recorded Future blog, censorship will squeeze some online behaviors to the Dark Web. Perhaps China will take even more aggressive action to make the use of Tor and i2p an opportunity for corrective instruction. Developers may find the tighter controls a reason to innovate.

In short, the cat-and-mouse games are about to get underway in earnest.

Stephen E Arnold, September 12, 2017


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