What Is the Great Firewall of China and How Does It Work?
China’s Great Firewall, officially called the Golden Shield Project, is a sophisticated internet censorship system that blocks or filters online content deemed inappropriate or sensitive by the government. The system operates at the national level and is supervised by the Chinese government’s Cyberspace Administration. The Great Firewall has been in place since the early 2000s and has become increasingly complex and sophisticated ever since.
The Great Firewall works by blocking internet traffic between China and the rest of the world at the points where that traffic crosses the borders of the Chinese network. The Chinese government has set up a series of routers and servers that filter and screen all traffic coming into and out of the country for sensitive keywords and URLs. If the filter detects any prohibited keywords or prohibited websites, it will block access to the website or content.
The Great Firewall’s filtering system is powered by a combination of automated keyword detection and human intervention. The Chinese government’s Cybersecurity administration employs thousands of people as content monitors who manually censor sensitive content. According to some reports, there are as many as 2 million workers who use sophisticated algorithms and AI systems to monitor the content and block any internet traffic deemed inappropriate.
The Great Firewall blocks a wide range of content deemed sensitive by the Chinese government. This includes websites that are critical of the Chinese government, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, foreign news sites, search engines like Google, and even some western entertainment sites. The system also blocks content that touches on sensitive topics like human rights abuses, Tibet, and the Tiananmen Square incident.
The Great Firewall has several advanced technologies, such as deep packet inspection, actively probing connections, and even using a Man-In-The-Middle attack to monitor and control the flow of data. Furthermore, the Chinese government requires all internet service providers to apply the censorship system, making it practically impossible for internet users to circumvent the firewall.
Attempts to bypass China’s firewall have led to an ongoing game of cat-and-mouse between Chinese authorities and pro-democracy activists. Some methods that have been used to bypass the Great Firewall include using a virtual private network (VPN), using Tor, switching to uncensored DNS servers, and using tools that mimic the traffic found on sites that have not been blocked.
In conclusion, the Great Firewall of China is not just a technical system, but also a symbol of the Chinese government’s approach to controlling the flow of information within the country. While it is an important tool for the government to maintain authoritarian rule, it restricts the Chinese people’s access to free and open information, stifling freedom of speech and limiting their access to the rest of the world.