Internet Control Grips China Before Anniversary

September 30, 2009 3:36 am Last Updated: September 30, 2009 4:04 am

While quietly surfing the web, Mr. Wang, a network administrator in Beijing, suddenly got a call warning him to “mind his behavior” on the Internet. It was the Internet Monitoring Department of the Beijing Public Security Bureau checking in.

For the weeks prior to China’s National Day celebration, and under the pretext of “maintaining stability,” Internet controls in China have intensified.

Mr. Wang shared with The Epoch Times his expertise on the recent tactics adopted by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to control the Internet. The recent Internet blockade, he said, was accomplished through the cooperation of many Internet service providers in mainland China.

One Internet company recently notified its subscribers, “Beginning today, any Bulletin Board System containing illegal information, once found, will be shut down immediately. They will not reopen prior to Oct. 1, 2009.”

Through software like UltraSurf and FreeGate, developed by the Global Internet Freedom Consortium (GIF), many netizens had been able to surf freely prior to the recent intensification of the Internet firewall. Now even the efficacy of these programs has been seriously affected.

“In 2003, anti-censorship software products were not widely available, so Internet monitoring departments concentrated on actively blocking those anti-censorship Web sites," Mr. Wang said. "Once they found the sensitive IP addresses, they would first block the user’s IP, shutting off his or her access to the Internet. After two or three days, the blockage would be removed.

“Then the IP address would be recorded and sent to the relevant service provider who would search for the user’s information," he said. "A determination would then be made regarding further action, including monitoring phone lines, interrogation, arrest, etc.”

Now, anti-censorship products are widely circulated in China, and the regime lacks the manpower to continue that approach. “So now I guess they’ve started to hire people specifically to record the IP addresses of overseas proxy sites. For example, although DynaWeb’s (GIF) IP address changes continually, all the addresses have to be published on the Web site. Then these published IP addresses are targeted,” he said.

Monitoring Company Employees

In 2000, Mr. Wang was hired by a joint venture Hong Kong–Beijing Internet company. He was first hired as an engineer and, a year later, a network service manager.

In this role he was regularly contacted by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, who gave him updates on Internet security regulations. One day, he was summoned to the Security Department of the CCP and asked to place monitoring equipment in his company.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Wang said. “I didn’t refuse at that time. How could I—just one person—stand up against the national machine? So, against my will, I agreed to do it. I felt hopeless and came back to the office. I didn’t dare talk with anyone about this.

“After a few days, they sent technicians to install their equipment in our computer rooms. They could monitor all information that passed through our system. It was a black box with a lock. My feeling at the time was that it was specifically installed to monitor Falun Gong,” he said, referring to a spiritual practice persecuted in China.

Abandoning Conscience, Making A Fortune

Later, Wang got frequent phone calls from the Beijing Public Security Internet Monitoring Department. He was asked who had used certain IP addresses. Every user’s IP address had to remain static and records were kept for three months.

“I always tried to delay the report with the excuse that the company’s technology was not up to par,” Wang said. “From my experience, I can see that Internet monitoring and control has spread all over China. The CCP never loosens its supervision of people’s speech.”

Wang also thinks that some companies sell out for economic gain. “For example, at the time of the SARS epidemic, my company asked me to attend a work conference with a high-level consultant and a network company from Taiwan. The company was developing equipment that would enable Internet administration departments to easily know what sites users were accessing. They expected to make a fortune and spread the equipment all across China.”

Read the original Chinese article.