New Version of GreatFire.org

We are very pleased to unveil a new version of GreatFire.org today. Here are some things we've been working on in an effort to improve the web site and to bring transparency to online censorship in China. 

Real Time Testing 

You can now test whether any URL is blocked or restricted in China in real time. Just enter any website in the main search field on the top of this page and click Test Now. Or, when browsing a report on a particular URL, you can request to have it retested immediately by clicking Test Now on its page. This is the first time that real-time monitoring of key words in China has ever been publicly available. Other web sites share information about key words which may have been blocked in the past but which are now unblocked (or vice versa). Our real-time service will allow visitors to the site to monitor blocked key words in relation to breaking news stories in China. Visitors will also gain insight into anomalies that sometimes occur with the Great Firewall including the ability to see if blocked sites like Facebook and Twitter happen to be open in China for short periods of time. 

Percentages 

We now report blocks and restrictions as percentages over the last 30 days. For example, if a URL has been tested 10 times in the last 30 days, and as a result of those tests the connection was reset 5 times and the download speed was slower than 5 kbps 2 times, our report would state that the web site is 50% blocked (5 /10) and 20% otherwise restricted (2 / 10). This means that our reports will be more reliable by providing more information about how exactly these sites are being blocked or throttled. There are frequent glitches in the Great Firewall and the previous version of our website reported only on the latest status of a web site, which could give distorted impressions. 

To qualify as a Website Blocked By The Great Firewall of China or a Search Blocked By The Great Firewall of China a URL has to have been blocked at least 50% in the last 30 days. 

Types of Censorship 

Rather than just reporting a URL as blocked, we now use algorithms to try to deduce the technical type of censorship that is occurring. Current categories are Connection Reset, DNS Poisoning, Redirected To China, Self-Censorship, Throttling and Timed Out. For any given URL, you can click on the days in the calendar to view details on how the URL was determined to be blocked or restricted. More info in our new FAQ

Baidu Self-Censorship 

Last but not least, we now also track Baidu Self-Censorship. We do this by checking for the existence of a self-censorship admission message shown on Baidu for certain sensitive keywords. Please try it out and let us know what you think on info at greatfire dot org or by commenting on this site. Historically, information which appeared about the Great Firewall has focused on what web sites are blocked to users in China, Frequently, this information focused on either popular web sites (like Facebook and Twitter) or on organizations which China has deemed to be detrimental to the people of China. For the first time, we are providing insight into what information is blocked on the biggest search engine in China. Internet users in China for the most part are aware of the fact that large web sites like Facebook are blocked. Our new feature now gives users in China a view on what Chinese keywords are being blocked on Baidu.

We have many more features to add, and you can help us in this process. Please add comments on any page with suggestions on what we can do better or problems we need to fix. Let's work together to bring transparency to online censorship in China.

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Tue, May 23, 2017

Is China establishing cyber sovereignty in the United States?

Last week Twitter came under attack from a DDoS attack orchestrated by the Chinese authorities. While such attacks are not uncommon for websites like Twitter, this one proved unusual. While the Chinese authorities use the Great Firewall to block harmful content from reaching its citizens, it now uses DDoS attacks to take down content that appears on websites beyond its borders. For the Chinese authorities, it is not simply good enough to “protect” the interests of Chinese citizens at home - in their view of cyber sovereignty, any content that might harm China’s interests must be removed, regardless of where the website is located.

And so last week the Chinese authorities determined that Twitter was the target. In particular, the authorities targeted the Twitter account for Guo Wengui (https://twitter.com/KwokMiles), the rebel billionaire who is slowly leaking information about corrupt Chinese government officials via his Twitter account and through his YouTube videos. Guo appeared to ramp up his whistle-blowing efforts last week and the Chinese authorities, in turn, ramped up theirs.

via https://twitter.com/KwokMiles/status/863689935798374401

Mon, Dec 12, 2016

China is the obstacle to Google’s plan to end internet censorship

It’s been three years since Eric Schmidt proclaimed that Google would chart a course to ending online censorship within ten years. Now is a great time to check on Google’s progress, reassess the landscape, benchmark Google’s efforts against others who share the same goal, postulate on the China strategy and offer suggestions on how they might effectively move forward.

flowers on google china plaque

Flowers left outside Google China’s headquarters after its announcement it might leave the country in 2010. Photo: Wikicommons.

What has Google accomplished since November 2013?

The first thing they have accomplished is an entire rebranding of both Google (now Alphabet) and Google Ideas (now Jigsaw). Throughout this blog post, reference is made to both new and old company names.

Google has started to develop two main tools which they believe can help in the fight against censorship. Jigsaw’s DDoS protection service, Project Shield, is effectively preventing censorship-inspired DDoS attacks and recently helped to repel an attack on Brian Krebs’ blog. The service is similar to other anti-DDoS services developed by internet freedom champions and for-profit services like Cloudflare.

Thu, Nov 24, 2016

Facebook: Please, not like this

Facebook is considering launching a censorship tool that would enable the world’s biggest social network to “enter” the China market. Sadly, nobody will be surprised by anything that Mark Zuckerberg decides to do in order to enter the China market. With such low expectations, Facebook is poised to usurp Apple as China’s favorite foreign intelligence gathering partner. If the company launches in China using this strategy they will also successfully erase any bargaining power that other media organizations may hold with the Chinese authorities.

Tue, Jul 05, 2016

GreatFire.org now testing VPN speed and stability in China

There is a commonly held belief in China that if you have a VPN that works then you should keep quiet about it. In terms of freedom of access to information, the problem with this approach is that access to knowledge suddenly is a secret. Today we are launching a project that we hope will destroy that model.

Our newest website, Circumvention Central (CC), aims to provide real-time information and data about circumvention solutions that work in China. Since 2011, we have been collecting data about blocked websites in China and now we will add data about the effectiveness of VPNs and other circumvention tools.

We are launching CC with four main objectives in mind.

Our first objective is to help to grow the number of Chinese who circumvent censorship restrictions in China. By sharing our information and data about these tools, we hope to show a wider audience which circumvention tools are working.

Our second objective is to improve the circumvention experience for users in China by bringing transparency to tool performance. We will measure these tools on speed (how quickly popular websites are loaded) and on stability (the extent to which popular websites load successfully).

Sat, May 07, 2016

The New York Times vs. The Chinese Authorities

Could the New York Times be setting the best path forward for news organizations in China?
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Comments

New design is great, i love it. Hope it will help people to know greatfire ! (i've made a site about vpn services in the world: http://www.best-vpn-provider.com )

Best article I've seen so far in this topic!

GreatFire is clearly leading the way in the cat-and-mouse game to escape great firewall of China censorship.

Just one word : PKG, Please Keep Going!!!

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