The very existence of Internet controls is almost never discussed in public here, apart from vague statements about the importance of keeping online information “wholesome.”
James Fallows in his piece “The Connection Has Been Reset” in the March 2008 issue of the Atlantic Monthly about Internet censorship in China.
Aric Mayer has posted an interesting chronicle of the Chinese censorship of his blog, Aric Mayer Studios, something we chatted a little bit about when he passed through town back in November.
I saw my traffic from China slowly decline to nearly nothing awhile back, and assumed it was related to my pissing and moaning about the Beijing Olympics. However, Fallows' piece suggests that all of us blogspotters may be blocked now.
Fallows' piece makes an important point: China's online surveillance system is pretty tightly nailed down, but easily subverted -- if one is willing to spend the money and accept the risk.
Its power lies in its subtle big brother omnipresence. Says Fallows: "By making the search for external information a nuisance, they drive Chinese people back to an environment in which familiar tools of social control come into play."
Or, as a collaborative study between UC Davis and the University of New Mexico concluded (also cited in the Fallows piece): “The presence of censorship, even if easy to evade, promotes self-censorship.”