GreatFire, a group of activists and militants, decided to fight against the Chinese censorship by drilling a hole in the “Great Firewall” , the nickname of the digital divide which are stronger than the Great Wall of China.
Filtering performed by the Chinese authorities is actually basic and brutal : the domain names of sites to block that are filtered at the DNS server , so that Chinese navigators do not know what server to query access banned sites. It is also possible to block more finely certain URLs when accessed in non-secure HTTP.
Greatfire activists actually created a mirror site of the Reuters relayed the same data as the site for information but in a similar format. As reported by The Next Web, GreatFire decided to test the Chinese censorship by creating a secure mirror site of Reuters China that will be politically impossible to block.
All news agency releases are indeed posted in real time on the mirror site s3.amazonaws.com/cn.reuters/index.html on a HTTPS secured URL access that belongs to Amazon, and more specifically its hosting services cloud.
So this is a mirror site, but stored on another server: it is often impossible to post comments on a mirror site, but the information can be at least read. Activists had already tested their method on their own FreeWeibo site, which relays the data censored on Weibo, the Chinese authorized and controlled social network.
For their copy Reuters GreatFire used Amazon servers and Google, which can be protected by a secure connection. If security is not optimal, censorship could still exercise itself. But blocking access to Google and Amazon servers would put down so many websites that even the Chinese censorship cannot allow itself to do so.
However, this solution may not last either if the two American giants contacted by Chinese censorship services could make their own decision to cut off access to such site. Hopefully the will to preserve the image of freedom of expression shall prevail.
And for the Chinese government, the goal is not to ensure that sites censored are totally impossible to see. It is to avoid the mass of webusers to access to them. In fact, most of them would not even know where to find the mirror. The effort is commendable, but its effect will be limited.
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