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Friday, August 20, 2004 

Holes in the Great Firewall?

Probing Chinese search engine filtering, the latest research report by OpenNet Initiative brings into light some new understanding of the Great Firewall. [via China Digital News]

"It is generally believed that China's national filtering regime is centralized and uniform but the fact that the search engines spiders are able to index some of these "blocked" sites indicates that there may be holes in the Great Firewall, that the crawlers have a special exemption from the filtering regime or that the crawlers operate from a third country."

The report also provides a technical explanation as to how and why users who searched for banned ideas are penalized with a temporary ban on internet access through a web-browser.

Again, the issue of corporate social responsibilities is raised in the report given Google's investments in Baidu, a chinese search engine that was being examined in this report:
"Considering both Yahoo!'s and Google's investment relationships with these [chinese search engine] companies, it is certainly legitimate to raise questions of corporate responsibility."

But from what the report describes, it seems to be that even if the search engines don't filter or what the report coined as downstream filtering, censorship can still be at work through upstream filtering (those temporary dyfunctional web-browsing sessions).

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