China’s authorities currently block overseas-based sites they disapprove of, such as those relating to Tibetan independence, or the Falun Gong spiritual movement, with a mesh of filters and keyword restrictions, widely known as the ‘Great Firewall’. Control over domestic servers is applied through instructions to content providers and search engines, which must self-censor to stay in business.
Computer makers in China have now been instructed to pre-install blocking software on every PC hard drive from next month, under a government push to control access to the internet. A new software – called ‘Green Dam Youth Escort’ – potentially adds a powerful new tool at the level of the individual computer. It updates a list of forbidden sites from an online database, much as network security programs automatically download the latest defences against new worms, trojans and viruses.
The related software developing companies have long-term working relationships with the Public Security Bureau and the People’s Liberation Army.
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My ‘Nets’ project work includes control and prevention of the flow of information by various surveillance systems – including the above. More generally, I’m intrigued with metaphors and analogies that derive from connections between all types of working nets.