The creator of the Great Firewall of China has come out to the public spotlight and is reported to have said that the firewall needs improvement if it needs to combat people trying to bypass the firewall in order to access sites blocked by the Government, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Fang Binxing, the 50-year-old president of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, has told a Chinese newspaper that the firewall needs to distinguish between “good and evil information” as currently it outright blocks sites with sensitive terms deemed by the Government.
“The firewall monitors them and blocks them all. It’s like when passengers aren’t allowed to take water aboard an airplane because our security gates aren’t good enough to differentiate between water and nitroglycerin,” he tells the paper.
“So far, the GFW [Great Firewall of China] is lagging behind and still needs improvement.”
The Great Firewall of China is the largest internet censorship program in the world, with several layers – including the aforementioned keyword blocking technique. Below is a little clip from the ABC’s Hungry Beast programme about the filter.
He defends the creation of the filter, saying that a firewall is a “common phenomenon” around the world with at least 180 countries actively monitor the web; and has compared the firewall to controlling traffic: “Drivers just obey the rules and so citizens should just play with what they have.”
Not many people, however, are happy with Binxing. After opening a Sina account – the Twitter equivalent in the country, as Twitter has been blocked by China – he was inundated with messages critical of his creation. He shut down his account a few days later.
He takes the messages as a “sacrifice” and was doing the right thing.
“I regard the dirty abuse as a sacrifice for my country. They can’t get what they want so they need to blame someone emotionally: like if you fail to get a US visa and you slag off the US visa official afterwards,” he says.
Michael Anti, a Beijing-based blogger and journalist, however has labelled his “sacrifice” in vein as he believes that he is living in a “parallel universe”. He tells the Guardian: “Even the Chinese government hesitates to talk about censorship. The father of the great firewall thinks it’s an honour [to have invented it]. To us, that attitude is worse than the censorship itself.”
“The Chinese government keeps strengthening censorship more and more, but information is growing. It’s a cat and mouse game.”