Internet Filtering in China

Overview

The government of the People’s Republic of China has a longstanding set of policies restricting the information to which citizens are exposed, and that which they may themselves publicly say. The Internet poses a new challenge to such censorship, both because of the sheer breadth of content typically available, and because sources of content are so often remote from Chinese jurisdiction, and thus much more difficult to penalize for breaching restrictions on permissible materials. There is some evidence that the government has attempted to prevent the spread of unwanted material by preventing the spread of the Internet itself, but a concomitant desire to capture the economic benefits of networked computing has led to a variety of strategies to split the difference. For example, the government might encourage Internet access through cybercafes rather than in private spaces so that customers’ surfing can be physically monitored by others in the cafe. As a technical matter, anecdotal reports have described a shifting set of barriers to surfing the web from Chinese points of access — sites that are reported unavailable or domain names that are unknown to the system or that lead to unexpected destinations, individual pages that are blocked, and the use of search keywords that results in temporary limits to further searches.

As with most filtering regimes, whether implemented at the client, ISP, or government level, no list is made available of the sites blocked or of the methodologies used to block them. Further, while the government-connected Internet Society of China (not a chapter of the international Internet Society) has asked Internet service providers and content creators to sign a pledge including self-filtering, few official statements document the existence of government-maintained web filtering, much less the criteria employed and thresholds necessary to elicit a block. We therefore sought to investigate the growing set of methods by which Internet filtering is accomplished, and to collect and distribute a list of blocked sites and pages — a list that is large in absolute terms even if small relative to the size of the Internet and to the total amount of blocked content, and a list that is diverse even if not perfectly representative of all blocked content. Such a list allows us and others to begin to assess the nature and scope of filtering within China, with particular attention to non-sexually explicit web sites rendered inaccessible there.

Having requested some 204,012 distinct web sites, we found more than 50,000 to be inaccessible from at least one point in China on at least one occasion. Adopting a more conservative standard for determining which inaccessible sites were intentionally blocked and which were unreachable solely due to temporary glitches, we find that 18,931 sites were inaccessible from at least two distinct proxy servers within China on at least two distinct days. We conclude that China does indeed block a range of web content beyond that which is sexually explicit. For example, we found blocking of thousands of sites offering information about news, health, education, and entertainment, as well as some 3,284 sites from Taiwan. A look at the list beyond sexually explicit content yields insight into the particular areas the Chinese government appears to find most sensitive.

This report is intended as a milepost, part of an ongoing empirical investigation documenting filtering levels and methods over time. As we continue to collect data on the evolving accessibility of a diversified “basket” of web sites, we will seek to say more about overall trends in Chinese web filtering, and further see if such trends are credibly linked to government statements of Internet policy and, for particular categories of sensitive sites, whether shifts in the Chinese government’s substantive policy (for example, a noted change in tension levels with Taiwan) are reflected in levels of web filtering. This, in turn, can shed light on how important a priority web filtering is to the government.

In other work, the authors will expand analysis to Internet filtering systems in other countries and will generate additional URLs to test based on queries invoked in the local language. Sign up to receive updates. The authors are also developing a distributed application for use by Internet users worldwide in testing, analyzing, and documenting respective Internet filtering regimes. Get more information and sign up to get involved. The authors previously provided access to a web-based system to test web filtering in China which remains available. Finally, the authors prepared screenshots documenting the September 2002 redirection of requests for google.com to other search engines.
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All my website links are being filtered in China

I have accessed BaiDu.com and accessed their search results and have done an indepth analysis of the typical approaches to their technologies used to block access, and will post here all the ways to bypass their solutions.

Contributed by Oogle.
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ICP License in China: What you need to know
Extracted from Http://blog.sinohosting.net

There are many misconceptions about the ICP concept so this post would attempt to clear them.

By definition, all websites hosted on a Chinese server are required to register for an internet content provider (ICP) license. It is basically a permit issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology that is needed to operate a website in mainland China. The license can be obtained through a simple registration at http://www.miibeian.gov.cn , where relevant information about the website owner, its content, the hosting provider etc. needs to be provided.

Once the application is submitted, the hosting provider will confirm this information which finally is submitted to the relevant bureau for the province the server is physically located in. It can take from a few days to a couple of weeks for the application to be confirmed. If rejected, reasons will be sent to the registered email for further modifications and re-submission.

In most cases, in order to avoid mistakes or repeated submissions due to rejections, your hosting provider will handle the application for you. You still need to provide the relevant information though. SinoHosting, for instance, will send to all new clients who signed up for a China plan, an ICP information form to fill and will take care of the rest.

A Chinese address and a contact person in China (with local phone number) would be required for the application, which can constitute a problem for companies operating overseas without a presence in China. In this situation, we recommend to ask a Chinese partner, agent or even friend to make the application on your behalf. He/She will not have any legal implication in doing so.

If you just have nobody to help you with the registration in China but still want to have better connectivity from the country, the next best alternative is Hong Kong. Indeed, Hong Kong is also considered “overseas” and in that regard websites hosted in Hong Kong are not required to apply for an ICP license, while being less likely to be blocked (which happens sometime though). SinoHosting provides Hong Kong web hosting services as well, feel free to contact us if you need more information on that regard.

Officially, business sites need to provide a business license number to register but in reality the registration can be successful even when done under a personal name (Chinese name + ID card)

[UPDATE: Now ICP licenses applications for business sites with a personal ID or passport are rejected. You need a a China-registered business to apply for an ICP license for such website]

Other useful facts about the ICP license:
-If your website is hosted overseas, you do not need to have an ICP license. In fact, you cannot apply for it (as during the submission you need to specify the provider, which should be in the ministry of information database, and which in most cases is China based).

-ICP licenses are not a guarantee that your site won’t be blocked.

-Without an ICP license, your site can be taken down anytime. If hosted in China, your site can be tracked down to its host who can be instructed to take the site down if its registration doesn’t appear in the ICP database.

-Applications done entirely using overseas addresses and contact persons have, to our knowledge, always been denied.

-It is illegal to operate a website in China without an ICP license. Hosting companies are required to shut down websites which do not obtain an ICP license within a certain period of going live, although this is loosely enforced.

-Domain extension is irrelevant to the need or not of an ICP license: it doesn’t matter if your domain name is a .com, .net, .org, .cn, .com.cn, .hk, .asia etc., or if you bought your domain name in China, the US or elsewhere. What matters is the physical location of your web pages, if they are in China then the ICP license would be a requirement.

-The ICP registration is free, although some hosts would charge you for it. You must understand that this fee is not paid to the government. We used to charge for it as well but now this is included in our China hosting packages.

Author: Gilbert Tan TS

IT expert with more than 20 years experience in Multiple OS, Security, Data & Internet , Interests include AI and Big Data, Internet and multimedia. An experienced Real Estate agent, Insurance agent, and a Futures trader. I am capable of finding any answers in the world you want as long as there are reports available online for me to do my own research to bring you closest to all the unsolved mysteries in this world, because I can find all the paths to the Truth, and what the Future holds. All I need is to observe, test and probe to research on anything I want, what you need to do will take months to achieve, all I need is a few hours.​

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