New semi-censorship on Sina Weibo, and lots of keywords blocked and unblocked during September

New Semi-Censorship

We are currently monitoring more than 12,000 keywords on Sina Weibo, out of which around 2500 are currently blocked. When searching for any of those blocked keywords, you get the following message:

根据相关法律法规和政策,“[the blocked keyword]”搜索结果未予显示。

This translates into:

According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, search results for [the blocked keyword] can not be displayed.

These keywords generate no search results at all. Recently, however, a new form of self-censorship has emerged in which some results are returned but not all (big thanks to Jason Ng at BlockedOnWeibo for letting us know). Take, for example, weibo: 八九纪念 ("remember 89") and weibo: 河蟹 ("river crab", used instead of 和谐 which means "harmony" and is used to refer to censorship). These had been fully blocked since we started monitoring them in May this year. However, sometime in September, searching for either of the two started returning some results, followed by this new message:

 根据相关法律法规和政策,部分搜索结果未予显示。

which translates into:

According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, some of the search results for [the blocked keyword] can not be displayed.

An even more interesting example is weibo: 民泽江. It used to be fully blocked, but in September was partially unblocked (displaying the message quoted above). Then, at least as of October 1, it has been fully unblocked.

This new semi-censorship level resembles the one practiced by Baidu, which admits to self-censoring but still returns selected results.

Blocked and Unblocked

The following keywords were not blocked prior to September, 2012, but have been blocked since that month and onwards.
  1. weibo: 三表哥
  2. weibo: 克强
  3. weibo: 张培莉
  4. weibo: 砸毁警车
  5. weibo: 自焚

And these keywords were all blocked before September, but are not blocked anymore:

  1. weibo: 3月20日
  2. weibo: 4月3日
  3. weibo: 5人被刑拘
  4. weibo: 8x8
  5. weibo: BJ日报
  6. weibo: fang binxing
  7. weibo: guangcheng
  8. weibo: q=cache
  9. weibo: qd
  10. weibo: xing 爱
  11. weibo: xing 爱
  12. weibo: youtube
  13. weibo: 九八
  14. weibo: 二胡
  15. weibo: 互联网信息办公室
  16. weibo: 五套 功法
  17. weibo: 倪玉兰
  18. weibo: 八九纪念
  19. weibo: 公告
  20. weibo: 冤案
  21. weibo: 加兹温
  22. weibo: 勿忘
  23. weibo: 北戴河会议
  24. weibo: 吃人
  25. weibo: 吃少年
  26. weibo: 合肥 法院
  27. weibo: 国家 军队
  28. weibo: 大使馆
  29. weibo: 大力王
  30. weibo: 大腿肉
  31. weibo: 孤立事件
  32. weibo: 审理
  33. weibo: 尼尔伍德
  34. weibo: 师傅 天线
  35. weibo: 康 宝宝
  36. weibo: 开来
  37. weibo: 抗议
  38. weibo: 护士长
  39. weibo: 抵制日货
  40. weibo: 无修正
  41. weibo: 晚自习后
  42. weibo: 暴露
  43. weibo: 替身
  44. weibo: 杀人狂
  45. weibo: 正无
  46. weibo: 毒杀
  47. weibo: 民泽江
  48. weibo: 江绵恒
  49. weibo: 法广
  50. weibo: 熙来
  51. weibo: 立军
  52. weibo: 立案
  53. weibo: 纪委
  54. weibo: 纳米比亚
  55. weibo: 经济观察报 查封
  56. weibo: 美 大使
  57. weibo: 腌肉
  58. weibo: 自行离开
  59. weibo: 薄
  60. weibo: 藏 里
  61. weibo: 讲真相
  62. weibo: 起东
  63. weibo: 连环失踪案
  64. weibo: 邪恶的党
  65. weibo: 阿炳
  66. weibo: 非法献花
  67. weibo: 韩耀
  68. weibo: 领馆
  69. weibo: 食人魔
  70. weibo: 马力宏
  71. weibo: 驻华大使馆
  72. weibo: 骆 信访办
  73. weibo: 骆家辉 信访办
  74. weibo: 高干子弟
  75. weibo: 高瞻
  76. weibo: 鸵鸟肉
  77. weibo: 黄奇帆
  78. weibo: (梅)宁华

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Fri, Mar 27, 2015

CNNIC censored Google and Mozilla’s posts about CNNIC CA

This week, Google found unauthorized digital certificates for several Google domains, the root CA of which is CNNIC. Google and Mozilla both publicly disclosed this security incident and published blog posts(Google, Mozilla). However, Chinese translations of Google’s and Mozilla's blog posts were censored on the Chinese Internet.

  • William Long is a prominent Chinese blogger on IT and tech. He translated Google’s security post without adding any personal opinions. The Chinese blogpost ranked #1 when searching CNNIC MITM in Chinese on Google and Baidu. He tweeted that he received a phone call from propaganda department demanding the post to be removed immediately. The post http://www.williamlong.info/archives/4183.html was deleted. Google cache is still available.

Wed, Mar 25, 2015

Evidence shows CNNIC and CAC behind MITM attacks

Since 2013, we have repeatedly called on major software vendors to revoke CNNIC-issued certificates. Most notably, we raised this issue when we reported on the Cyberspace Administration of China’s (CAC) man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks on Google, Microsoft’s Outlook, Apple, Yahoo and Github. Mainstream media have reported about these security vulnerabilities before and on March 24, Ars Technica reported on Google’s announcement that they have definitive evidence that CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center) was behind a new MITM attack on Google.

From our October, 2014 blog post:

Thu, Mar 19, 2015

We are under attack

We are under attack and we need help.

Likely in response to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), we’ve experienced our first ever distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. This tactic is used to bring down web pages by flooding them with lots of requests - at the time of writing they number 2.6 billion requests per hour. Websites are not equipped to handle that kind of volume so they usually “break” and go offline.

This kind of attack is aggressive and is an exhibition of censorship by brute force. Attackers resort to tactics like this when they are left with no other options.

We are not equipped to handle a DDoS attack of this magnitude and we need help. Some background:

  • The attack started on March 17 and we are receiving up to 2.6 billion requests per hour which is about 2500 times more than normal levels.

Thu, Mar 12, 2015

Collateral Freedom and the not-so-Great Firewall

Recognizing that the authorities have been hesitant to crackdown on our method of circumvention, we have accelerated our expansion of the development of collateral freedom, in three key areas.

Mon, Jan 26, 2015

An Open Letter to Lu Wei and the Cyberspace Administration of China

January 26, 2015

Beijing, China

 

Mr. Lu Wei

Director of the Cyberspace Administration of the People’s Republic of China 中央网络安全和信息化领导小组办公室主任

Director of the State Internet Information Office 国家互联网信息办公室主任

Deputy Director of the Central Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party 中共中央宣传部副部长

Cyberspace Administration of China,

Floor 1, Building 1,

Software Park, Chinese Academy of Sciences,

4 South 4th Street, Zhongguancun,

Beijing, China, 100190

 

Dear Mr. Lu,

On January 22, 2015, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), which is under your direct control, wrote a response to a story we published about an MITM attack on Microsoft. In the post, your colleague, Jiang Jun, labelled our accusations as "groundless" and  "unsupported speculation, a pure slanderous act by overseas anti-China forces".

We at GreatFire.org take great offense to these comments and we will refute them in this letter.

Subscribe to our blog using RSS.

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