The Great Firewall of China | James Griffiths

Summary of: The Great Firewall of China: How to Build and Control an Alternative Version of the Internet
By: James Griffiths


Embark on an eye-opening journey through the intricate and dark world of China’s internet censorship with James Griffiths’ ‘The Great Firewall of China: How to Build and Control an Alternative Version of the Internet’. This book highlights how China transformed the internet from a beacon of hope for free speech into an effective authoritarian weapon for surveillance and control. Discover Beijing’s exploits to monitor its citizens, its influence on tech giants like Google and Facebook, and the chilling details of its scoring system that rates the adherence of Chinese citizens to party rule. Gain valuable insights into the workings of the Great Firewall and learn how other nations, such as Russia, are following China’s notorious footsteps.

China’s Internet Censorship

Journalist James Griffiths exposes how China’s government controls the internet to maintain power, rather than promoting free speech and democracy as previously hoped. Through examples of censorship and surveillance, Griffiths shows how the internet is a tool for authoritarian control and silencing dissent.

China’s Online Monitoring System

China initially saw the internet as a tool for academia with only 2000 people accessing it in 1994. However, by 1996, people were barred from using it to contest the government. The government now heavily monitors its citizens through the internet.

Overcoming China’s Great Firewall

China’s extensive internet censorship, known as the Great Firewall, blocks access to banned content and has resulted in harsh consequences for those who try to evade it. Li Gang, a computer developer, created an anti-surveillance protocol that successfully broke through the firewall in 2015. However, the Chinese government threatened to arrest him if he continued to develop the protocol. Despite this, he paved the way for internet freedom and inspired others to follow in his footsteps. While internet censorship in China remains widespread, a small percentage of users still resist the Great Firewall to access the information they want.

Chinese Authorities’ Iron Fist on Internet Usage

In 2005, Li Yuanlong dared to criticize China’s leaders and praise the US. He posted his essay on Epoch Times using FreeGate, a tool to tunnel through the Great Firewall, under a pseudonym. However, he was arrested, put on trial, and sentenced to 2 years in prison for subverting the state. Similarly, after a riot at a factory, Chinese authorities blocked internet access to the entire region of Xinjiang, encompassing 20 million people. These incidents illustrate how the Chinese government uses its power to control the internet and limit its citizens’ freedom of expression.

Unveiling China’s Grip on Tech Giants

In the early millennium American companies such as Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft initiated search engines and social media platforms in China, seeking to revolutionize the digital space – but the government had other plans. By succumbing to government pressure, Yahoo was responsible for the sentencing of a journalist, Microsoft deleted posts by a critic, and Google even engineered its engine to avoid showing criticism of the Falun Gong. The retreat of Silicon Valley companies made space for Chinese tech giants such as Baidu, which overtook Google, and eventually resulted in the ban of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube under the guise of maintaining national security.

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