[Author Prev][Author Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Author Index][Thread Index]

[dewayne@warpspeed.com: [Dewayne-Net] Bypassing the Great Firewall of CHina]

----- Forwarded message from Dewayne Hendricks <dewayne@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> -----

From: Dewayne Hendricks <dewayne@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2006 17:39:04 -0800
To: Dewayne-Net Technology List <dewayne-net@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [Dewayne-Net] Bypassing the Great Firewall of CHina
X-Mailer: Apple Mail (2.746.2)
Reply-To: dewayne@xxxxxxxxxxxxx

[Note:  This item comes from reader Randall.  DLH]

From: Randall <rvh40@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: March 3, 2006 1:16:40 PM PST
To: cyberia <CYBERIA-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, Dave <dave@xxxxxxxxxx>,  
Dewayne Hendricks <dewayne@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Bypassing the Great Firewall of CHina


Friday, March 03, 2006 at 4:14 PM EST
Peggy Lim and Anne Krishnan, Staff Writers
Bill Xia wants to lead a life guided by simple principles.

Truthfulness. Compassion. Tolerance.

But he's caught up in a complicated business: staying a step ahead of
China's Internet censors.

Xia's North Carolina-based company, Dynamic Internet Technology,
disguises Web sites so they can slip past China's firewall filters. It
allows Internet users in China to browse otherwise blocked pages
involving such taboo topics as human rights, banned religious groups and
peasant uprisings.

Trying to outwit China's cybercops is a cat-and-mouse game, not without

Xia is reluctant to have his photograph taken. He agreed to be
interviewed on the condition that the city where he lives and works not
be disclosed. He met with a reporter in a quiet corner of a Triangle

Though they keep a low profile, Xia and like-minded people who have been
dubbed "hacktivists" have recently been thrust into the international

On Feb. 15, a congressional subcommittee hauled executives from Google,
Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco Systems into hearings about their business
dealings in China. Legislators also recently introduced bills that would
prohibit U.S. businesses from bending to censorship in other countries
and promote technology like Xia's to let people circumvent government
censorship online.

"It's not that suddenly we did something new," said Xia, who founded
Dynamic Internet Technology in 2001. But attention on the other
companies, he said, prompted people to ask: Is it possible to get around
China's firewall?

"And yes," he said, "actually, people have been succeeding at this for

Studying physics in an Ohio graduate school in the 1990s, the Chinese
native was once content to be ensconced in some university library,
cozying up to an equation-filled textbook. He planned to become a

But that trajectory changed.

Finding a mission

Xia became friends with some computer science students. And he joined
Falun Gong, a group that combines calisthenics with spiritual
cultivation. The Chinese government banned Falun Gong as a subversive
organization in 1999.

Xia, who is in his early 30s, said his dramatic awakening came in July
1999 when China started to crack down on millions of Falun Gong
followers, imprisoning and punishing practitioners. "Then it became
personal," Xia said.

He noticed the discrepancy between his own experience in Falun Gong and
news about it from China, which branded it an "evil cult." He saw how
discussion was restricted on online Chinese forums, how e-mail
mentioning the subject got dropped.

"I started to see the need to let people access uncensored info," Xia

Each day, his company sends out e-mail to millions of Chinese Internet
users with links to the Web pages of a short roster of clients,
including Human Rights in China and the United States-sponsored Voice of
America and Radio Free Asia. Visits to such sites spike whenever there
seems to be a government cover-up, as during the initial outbreak of a
deadly respiratory virus in 2003 or the reported shooting of protesting
villagers in December.

Organizations such as Voice of America are an important source of income
for Xia's company. Over the past three years, the U.S. Broadcasting
Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America and Radio Free Asia,
has directed about $2 million to Xia's company, Dynamic Internet
Technology, and $66,000 to UltraReach, another company that circumvents

The money pays for Dynamic Internet Technology's e-mail service for VOA
and Radio Free Asia. It also supports technology that continuously
changes the organizations' Web addresses to escape Chinese government

Still, Xia, who depends on his wife's salary and a team of about 10 core
volunteers, says the company is constantly on the brink of bankruptcy.
"We spend all we have on DynaWeb," he said.

DynaWeb, Dynamic Internet Technology's main tool, offers Web users in
China portals and software to anonymously view practically any blocked
Web site, except some pornographic sites that the company also blocks.

Pressure from China

To grab a piece of the booming Chinese market, American Internet
companies have bowed to pressure from Chinese censors.

Yahoo China revealed private information to the Chinese government that
led to the jailing of a journalist. Microsoft's MSN yanked a
controversial web log from the Internet. Congress summoned Cisco for
making the hardware China uses to censor the Internet.

And in January, Google announced that it had launched a search engine
that filters out results proscribed by the Chinese government.

A search for "Falun Dafa" on Google.com and on the company's
China-specific portal Google.cn, yields different results on a
comparison tool developed by the OpenNet Initiative, a collaboration of
universities in the United States, Canada and England.

Google.com returns official and informational Web pages about the Falun
Gong or Falun Dafa faith; Google.cn returns Chinese government memos and
sites calling Falun Gong heretical and absurd.

Google's vice president of global communications testified in
congressional hearings that the company had to obey the communist
government's rules to provide good service for Chinese customers and
shore up its declining market share in the face of "explosive growth" of
the Internet in China.

Arvind Malhotra, a global entrepreneurship professor at Kenan-Flagler
Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill, said he thinks Google made the right
business decision.

"We hold values here," he said, "but it is just too big of a market, too
good of a market to not compromise and bend a little bit."

But businesses have more leverage than they think, said Xiao Qiang,
director of the China Internet Project at the University of California
at Berkeley's graduate journalism school. American companies provide the
best technology and the best services, he said, and China's Internet
could not develop as well without them.

Two-way leverage

"They obviously need the China market, but China also needs these
companies," he said. "When the companies are being pushed by the public
here and the government, there will be a space for them to negotiate
with the [Chinese] government, pushing back much more than they are

So far, Xia and his colleagues have been able to avoid a backlash from
the U.S. side of the technology world.

In 2004, the anti-virus company Symantec briefly labeled Xia's software
a Trojan horse, which masquerades as a useful program, but once opened
executes malicious code. Symantec quickly removed Xia's software from
its list of viruses after articles about the technology came out.

Joe Freddoso, a spokesman for Cisco Systems in Research Triangle Park,
said he doesn't consider tools that redirect Web surfers to different
sites to be a security threat, either.

"When there's something that interrupts the information flow, you're
going to have smart minds that figure out ways around that stoppage," he
said. "It's normal business on the Internet."

Still, Xia is protective of the identity of his small team of
volunteers, some of whom are software programmers in major companies
across the United States. Xia, the company's only full-time staff
member, doesn't want the others to risk their jobs for the maverick work
they do on the side.

He also acknowledges that his company must limit DynaWeb to Chinese-only
versions. The company hides it from English-language users for fear they
might use it to skirt corporate firewalls at their workplaces.

When outrunning China's censors while remaining incognito gets
stressful, Xia retreats inward to meditate on the basic Falun Gong
tenets that motivated him in the first place.

Truthfulness. Compassion. Tolerance.

But he reflects: "To be a good person ... throughout the years, I
discover, that's really hard to do."
Staff writer Peggy Lim can be reached at 836-5799 or


What does Dynamic Internet Technology do?

* It sends out mass e-mail messages for organizations including Voice of
America (VOA), Radio Free Asia and Human Rights in China. It uses
techniques similar to spam's to get by Internet Service Provider
filters. It might, for instance, substitute "V_O_A" for blacklisted
words such as "VOA."

* Its main technology, DynaWeb, allows Chinese Web users to anonymously
view practically any blocked Web site.

How does a user access DynaWeb?

An Internet user in China can send the company e-mail or an instant
message to get the latest working IP addresses or URLs for DynaWeb. A
DynaWeb site acts as a portal from which a user can connect to
practically any banned site. The Web addresses must constantly change,
because China's cybercops can block a Web site within several weeks or

A user can also download DynaWeb software called Freegate. Freegate
enables Internet browsers to directly access banned content. "The
software knows lots of holes and how to identify new holes," company
founder Bill Xia said.

Who uses DynaWeb?

About 100,000 people in China use DynaWeb each day, Xia said.

That's a tiny fraction of China's estimated 120 million Web users.

But Xiao Qiang, a University of California, Berkeley, professor, says
Freegate is important because of the types of people who use it:
journalists, writers and academics who are thinking and writing about
international politics and China's domestic affairs.


Dynamic Internet Technology




You can test how the search engine results on Google.com differ from
those on Google.cn at www.opennet.net/google_china.


Weblog at: <http://weblog.warpspeed.com>

----- End forwarded message -----
Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org";>leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820            http://www.ativel.com
8B29F6BE: 099D 78BA 2FD3 B014 B08A  7779 75B0 2443 8B29 F6BE

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: Digital signature