amw (amw) wrote,
amw
amw

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great firewalls, great cannons and great big fascists

The Chinese government has killed VPNs again this week. Since this year they have also blocked pretty much every website i read daily (Wikipedia, Hackernews, The Guardian and more), it means i am living in a bubble where the only overseas sites that work are LJ and vapid tabloid media. And even those sites don't work so well when YouTube and Twitter embeds are gone, not to mention many GIFs and photos.

I don't know what their latest reason is for blocking the world. Is it Hong Kong protests? I don't know because i am blocked from accessing any Hong Kong media. Maybe they are just butthurt that the people of Hong Kong resoundingly rejected conservative candidates in the recent local council elections? Turns out that the "silent majority" wasn't secretly in favor of police brutality. Who would've thunk it?

Of course the new propaganda spin is that the "silent majority" in Hong Kong was afraid to vote their true conscience because they were worried about terrorist backlash, which by the way is entirely masterminded by the "black hand" of America. For fuck's sake.

At the same time, this week the Chinese government launched a "Great Cannon" attack on a Hong Kong social media site that locals are using to organize: https://cybersecurity.att.com/blogs/labs-research/the-great-cannon-has-been-deployed-again

If you don't understand all the tech talk, don't worry. Just know that unless every website you visit is HTTPS (look for the padlock near the address), your browser may be hijacked by Chinese government agents who are using it (combined with millions of other hijacked browsers) to try take down a platform for free spech in Hong Kong. If the websites you visit do not support HTTPS, please write the admins and complain. HTTPS isn't perfect, but it does make it slightly more difficult for hackers to inject malicious code. A more aggressive step would be to install uBlock Origin and stay mindful of all the third-party tracking code running in the background of your browser.

Here in the mainland you just kind of have to live with the reality that you have been hacked out of the box. HTTPS is less trustworthy, since Chinese devices can come from the factory with compromised certificates. All of the local ISPs hijack DNS, which is how your computer knows that "wikipedia.org" is located at the address 91.198.174.192. In China you might get a different number that takes you to a page that looks almost exactly the one you were intending to visit, but the content is modified, or your accesses are logged. There are ways around this, but they're a pain for everyday users. VPN is the most common solution, so when VPNs are blocked you can't really trust anything online any more.

Another thing that happened recently is that Bing has updated their search results in China to not show the address of the website that it links to. So you can't confirm that a link is really going to take you to "wikipedia.org" until after you clicked on it. I sent Microsoft a bunch of angry messages but got no response. So far if you access foreign Bing from inside China you can still see the website address, but i suppose it's only a matter of time.

I kind of get it now when people say that China is fine, until it isn't. If you just come here on vacation you might be a little put out by all the security guards and cameras, but for the most part you will have a nice time. Even if you live here for a while it seems pretty nice. Stay in the rich areas and it is very clean, very safe, very efficient. Don't poke your head out of the Great Firewall, just consume Chinese media you will have a blast. There are hundreds of games and movies and shows filled with CPC-approved content to keep you entertained. But... you know. Then you realize if you want outside that bubble they will try block you at every turn. And under Xi it just keeps getting worse and worse. I guess his hope is that locals will be so enthralled by the domestic media that they won't notice or care.

Well, i notice and care, and it pisses me off.
Tags: china, teh internets
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