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Activists Put a Hole in the Great Firewall of China

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, November 18 2013

The man with the golden cam/flickr

When the Chinese versions of Reuters and the Wall Street Journal were censored on Friday, the team at quickly got to work in restoring them by creating what they call “mirror sites.” Much like a reflection, they are essentially impossible to eliminate without causing significant economic damage to China, according to Great Fire co-founder Charlie Smith. Read More


Interactive Gallery of Images Censored on Sina Weibo

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, November 15 2013

Bo Xilai has his own category of censored photos (Wikipedia)

Yesterday ProPublica launched an interactive photo gallery of all of the images deleted since May from the popular Chinese microblogging site, Sina Weibo. In those five months, a program has been checking 100 Weibo accounts, noting which posts contain an image and of those, which are deleted. Of the 80,000 posts collected, more than 5 percent (roughly 4,200) were deleted.

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First POST: Contained Fury

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, October 30 2013

Members of the House Intelligence Committee disagree about whether the NSA has kept them fully informed; Sen. Rand Paul a serial plagiarizer?; An antidote to technolibertarianism; and much, much more. Read More


Apple Kicks Out Another Anti-Censorship App From Their Chinese Store

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, October 25 2013

Just when it seemed like a small opening for controversial apps had appeared in the Chinese Apple App store, it quickly closed again. Yesterday,'s Free Weibo, a tool that allows you to search and find censored tweets on China’s popular microblogging platform, Sina Weibo, was finally made available in the Apple apps store in China after being previously blocked. When I asked Charlie Smith, who along with Martin Johnson created Great Fire, a website that monitor's censorship in China, "why the sudden reversal?", the answer was clear: it was an oversight. Read More


Zambian President Admits to Spying on Fellow Officials

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, October 16 2013

President of Zambia Michael Sata (Commonwealth Secretariat/flickr)

During his 2011 election campaign, the current president of Zambia, Michael Sata rose to popularity by playing on anti-Chinese sentiment and the anger of laborers over poor standards at the many large Chinese-run mines in Zambia. Now it seems Sata is taking a cue from his key economic partner with what appears to be a worrying surveillance program of other Zambian officials. According to Global Voices, he tapped the phone of his foreign minister and also planted a bug underneath a chair in the office of the leader of Barotseland region, whose citizens want to secede from Zambia. Read More

First POST: Reverberations

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, October 7 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: The NSA vs the Tor Project; was just overwhelmed by unexpected demand; China's "maker" movement; the Supreme Court still "doesn't get" email; and much, much more. Read More


Apple Stoops to “Whole New Level” of Self-Censorship in China

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, October 4 2013

Apple silently removed OpenDoor, an app that helped users evade China's Great Firewall, without any explanation and, the app developer says, without any just reason. Chinese netizens are understandably angry and many are criticizing Apple for their willingness to cooperate with Chinese authorities.

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Chinese Netizens Get Revenge On Official Who Arrested 16-Year-Old Blogger

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, September 25 2013

This picture of Yang flashing the victory sign is being retweeted by a number of netizens on Weibo (screenshot/Weibo)

The Chinese authorities like to push their boundaries when it comes to policing the Internet. We know they tell media outlets what they can and cannot write, set up an online platform where they could debunk rumors and deny official wrongdoing, and operate possibly the most sophisticated online surveillance and censorship apparatus in the world. Recently the government began a crackdown on online rumormongering that has resulted in hundreds of arrests. It was the arrest of of 16-year-old boy in the Gansu Province that was one step too far for Chinese netizens. The online outrage and activism that followed the arrest eventually led to the boy's release, and to the subsequent suspension of the police chief who oversaw the boy's detention.

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The Hunt for Open Data in China

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, September 11 2013

No data in this stack of hay. (Perry McKenna/flickr)

Like water and oil, ‘open data’ and ‘China’ that take a bit of engineering if you want them to mix. Stories like those of human rights advocate Xu Zhiyong, arrested for rallying citizens to demand public disclosure of their officials’ wealth, are more the norm. But rather than ask for information, a group of young techies are going out and finding it, despite the challenges in its use and the risks of digging too deep. Read More


Hundreds Arrested As China's War On Weibo Escalates

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, September 9 2013

This dumpling soup does not contain dead babies. John Herschell/Flickr

When it comes to cracking down on online rumors, the Chinese government means business. Last week Global Voices Advocacy wrote that more than 450 netizens have been arrested and detained by the authorities. On Monday China's Supreme Court released a document that clarifies the offenses that can land netizens behind bars, and it boils down to a numbers game. Any post that passes a viewing and reposting threshold can be considered serious defamation.

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