Chinese government’s ‘great firewall’ steps up Internet security

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(CNN) — The Chinese government is making it more difficult for its country’s Internet users to access banned websites. Users had found work-arounds to gain access to those censored sites, including Google. But China has stepped up its Internet security to prevent that from happening.

The Chinese Communist party enforces a draconian system of censorship of the web, dictating what more than 600 million Chinese can search. They have done it for years.

People call it the “great firewall” of China and the scope is of censorship is breathtaking. On Chinese search sites, many thousands of terms are blocked. Some are obvious threats to the party, like “tank man” or “end one-party dictatorship.” But then. “China’s first lady” is censored.

For a long time, there were ways to get around it. People in China would use VPN, or virtual private networks — think of it like tunneling under the great firewall and accessing the unfiltered Internet overseas. But now, the Communist party is shutting them down.

Jeremy Goldkorn, founder of the media tracking website Danwei, has tracked the Internet here for more than two decades, and he says the party is becoming aggressive.

“It is kind of like the gloves are off,” he said, “we are going to manage our Internet our way and we don’t care what anyone thinks.”

The party calls it “Internet sovereignty,” but without unrestricted access to business and research tools, it may be putting China’s budding “knowledge economy” at risk.

Now, with nearly a fifth of the world’s population stuck behind the great firewall, you can’t really call it a worldwide web at all.

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