Monday, February 13, 2012

Penetrating the Great Firewall of China

At our gate in the Taipei airport, John and I were furiously writing and uploading photos for our last Taiwan entry, just so we could be finished with Taiwan before going behind the GFC. Our flight was called. John had to click "publish" before he had a chance to put in all the photos.

The more I thought about the situation, the more outraged I became. I vowed to break through the GFC. For non-techies, there is a plethera of anti-censorship services that use tunneling (VPN) or proxy technology. We could always pay for a service, buying our way to freedom. This would be a very good use of our money.

The challenge is that the GFC blocks the websites of anti-censorship services and all information about those services. In between all the CNY festivities, I was searching desperately. Eventually, my breakthrough came when I happened upon an unblocked website of a service that offered a two-day trial.

During those two days I must have tried out 20 to 30 different services. In the end I found a number of free services that are working in China (as of Feb 2012) at least some of the time: SecurityKiss, ProXPN, Psiphon, UltraSurf, Freegate, GPass, GTunnel, FreeU, DynaPass, over half which are supported by the Falungong (I am mentioning this without passing any judgement). The important thing is that we are once again a part of the free world. It is so true how we take freedom for granted until we do not have it.


Crash Eddy said...

For a network geek like you, Sun-Ling, this VPN/proxy challenge must've been child's play.

john said...

Exactly....And since that post she's conquered some unusual internet connection schemes at 2 hotels.

Charles said...

Now that I am out of Iran, I can see this. I should have done my homework before going to Iran. I tried to break through their censorship while I was there. I was only partly successful. Anything that can be accessed via HTTPS was easy to get to - such as YouTube, Facebook, etc. Just go through an HTTP proxy that does SSL (get them from For unencrypted sites this does not work. Iran also blocks VPNs. I found a VPN that somebody said worked in Iran but it was so slow as to be completely unusable. After a while I just gave up because I did not want to spend my limited time in Iran sitting in a hotel room trying to circumvent their censorship. I should have done more homework in advance :-)

I wonder how the computer scientists who develop censorship technology see themselves.

Sun-Ling said...

You were not going to there for very long. It was no biggie. Nonetheless you must felt outrage. No matter how much we complain about the going-on's in the US, we have freedom of press, speech, information....