Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Great Firewall Strikes Again

Like the border between the United States and Mexico, the Great Firewall of China has occasional gaps. After a brief reprieve in May, the Chinese government shut down access to Blogger again. I have heard from friends that they have been able to access Blogger intermittently, but I haven't yet gained access. Therefore, I am writing this post via people back in the U.S., who are kind enough to log on and post my emails. I should also note that at the same time that Blogger was blocked again, the Chinese government also blocked access to images hosted on Flickr. Unlike with Blogger, access to the website was not banned, just the images themselves, under the pretense that Flickr images are not editorially controlled and may contain explicit or otherwise inappropriate images. Some web commentators think it’s because images of the Tiananmen Square massacre were posted and widely publicized.

The combined impact is that my posts will see a dramatic reduction in images. I hope to find a workaround in the near future. Some people have suggested using proxy servers based in the United States. While this works for casual browsers, it does not work for sites such as Blogger that require logging in. Using a proxy server then requires that you send all your login/password information through an untrusted computer that is specifically setup to help avoid compliance with legal regulations – not my idea of best practice, especially when my Blogger account is linked to my Google account, which is of course linked to Gmail, Google Checkout, etc.

In any case, I apologize for the repeated interruption and hope you will continue to come back to the blog for updates.

P.S. I have been able to find a workaround for the Flickr problem. A developer in Iran (another bastion of repression and state media control) has created a plug-in designed for my browser to automatically pull images from a proxy server. Thomas Friedman would be happy to know that the world is flattening for free speech.

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