Sunday, July 23, 2006

Experiencing web filtering in China

Yesterday, I read some Chinese book reviews of a biography, The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin, who was the former president and party chief of China from 1989 to 2003; and I incidentally experienced how Chinese websites filter the web contents themselves.

When I jumped to a Chinese web page at www.chuangkou.com from one of the search results of Google, instead of displaying the actual content of that page, a strange page titled "The First-Class Information Monitoring and Blocking (IMB) System" was shown as follows:

"The Information Monitoring System reminds you: it is regretted that, since the content that you have submitted or accessed contained forbidden keywords OR your IP was access restricted, your request has been cancelled. The system has logged your IP and the data that you have submitted. Please be advised that do not submit any content that may violate the state's regulation. The intercepted keyword in this session was: Jiang Zemin"

Of course, the original information shown above was in Chinese:

"一流信息监控拦截系统 (IMB System)"

"信息监控系统提醒您:很抱歉,由于您提交的内容中或访问的内容中含有系统不允许的关键词或者您的IP受到了访问限制,本次操作无效,系统已记录您的IP及您提交的所有数据。请注意,不要提交任何违反国家规定的内容!本次拦截的相关信息为:江泽民"

Afterward, my Firefox prompted "The connection was reset". According to the WHOIS result from APNIC, this web server should be physically located at the IDC Center of Beijing Telecom, Beijing, China.

I then curiously googled the above title and prompt in Chinese and realized that the blocking was conducted by a third party software running on the web site, not the well-known Great Firewall operated by the government.

This software is developed by Xing Wai Information Technology Co., Ltd., a server software provider in China. They have just upgraded their IMB system to version 3.35 which has supported automatic permissions presetting. They have also listed some of their clients on their web site, including local governments, ISPs, ICPs and hotels.

The funny thing is that how they select the default keywords to be intercepted. They always treat the state leaders' names, such as Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, as the forbidden keywords, even demonstrate the variant names of Jiang in their promotion introduction.

Together, Google shows that the other prohibited keywords include, but not limited to, 六合彩 (Mark Six, a lotto game in Hong Kong), 赌博 (Gambling), 达赖 (Dalai Lama, the supreme head of Tibetan Buddhism), 大法 (the short form of Falun Gong), 国民党 (Kuomintang, a political party currently active in Taiwan), 台独 (Taiwan Independence ), 中共 (the acronym of Communist Party of China), 反共 (Anti-communism) and 民运 (the acronym of Chinese Democracy Movement), as well as those porn related words, such as 激情电影 (Adult Film), 强奸 (rape), 口交 (oral sex) and the names of sex organs.

So the really funny thing is that the IMB system actually classifies the state leaders' names and the hardcore words in the same category. This is workable, but sounds like a black comedy, hehe... ;-))

As to the reason of why a lot of websites have deployed this IMB system, it is quiet simple: to minimize the business disruption from the government departments. The website owners may as well to monitor their web content themselves as to be forcedly censored with spending extra time and money to negotiate with the officials.

By the way, I believe this post will be absolutely kicked out by any Chinese blog system and online forum in China because it contains too many bloody words to be banned, hehe. :-))

Moreover, I have also noticed that this post is NOT recommended by Blogger.com while people clicking on the Next Blog button at the top of each blog page, probably because of the enumerated pornographic words, though the subject of this post is very serious.

Censorship is anywhere!

1 comment:

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