The Chinese authorities seem to have stopped blocking access to the international version of Google’s search engine, Google.com. Tests carried out by Reporters Without Borders show that it is again accessible in Beijing and Shanghai. Google’s unblocking tends to confirm the theory that online censorship was stepped up for the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on 4 June. To get round Internet censorship in China, Reporters Without Borders recommends downloading DynaPass, a programme that has just been updated.
Google.com blocked as vice tightens on Chinese Internet users
Reporters Without Borders today condemned the current unprecedented level of Internet filtering in China, which means the Google.com search engine can no longer be accessed in most provinces - although the censored Chinese version, Google.cn, is still accessible - and software designed in the United States to get round censorship now only works with great difficulty.
The organisation also deplored the fact that the 17th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on 4 June has been used to tighten the vice on Chinese Internet users.
“It was only to be expected that Google.com would be gradually sidelined after the censored version was launched in January,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Google has just definitively joined the club of western companies that comply with online censorship in China. It is deplorable that Chinese Internet users are forced to wage a technological war against censorship in order to access banned content.”
Internet users in many major Chinese cities have had difficulty in connecting to the uncensored international version of Google for the past week. The search engine was totally unaccessible throughout the country on 31 May. The blocking then gradually extended to Google News and Google Mail. So the Chinese public is now reduced to using the censored Chinese versions of these services.
At the same time, the authorities have largely managed to neutralise software designed to sidestep censorship since 24 May. Such software as Dynapass, Ultrasurf, Freegate and Garden Networks is normally used by about 100,000 people in China to gain access to news and information that is blocked by the firewall isolating China from the rest of the worldwide web.
Bill Xia, the US-based exile who created Dynapass, said the jamming of these programmes had reached an unprecedented level and he was convinced the authorities were deploying considerable hardware and software resources to achieve it.
Software engineers based abroad have been trying to update these programmes on the basis of information they have received from Internet users inside China. A new version of Dynapass was released a few days ago, but its effectiveness is still extremely limited.
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