Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hackers Fight Back

Cracks In the Wall
By Richard C. Morais
Hacker dissidents are chipping away at Chinese censorship.

In a windowless room in New York City, a computer engineer with owlish glasses--call her “Jenny Chen”--peers at a color-coded bar graph on her PC screen. Her group is launching attacks on the Chinese wall of censorship that blocks access to sites discussing verboten topics like civil rights and democracy. The graph displays how many Chinese that month evaded the country’s censorship to condemn the Chinese Communist Party.

Chen, a Beijing-born woman of about 40, runs her own it businesses. Her group, and like-minded “hacktivists” (as they call themselves) spread around the globe, are chipping away at the Golden Shield, the term that describes the filtering system that censors the Internet and e-mail of China’s 110 million Internet users. The invaders slip contraband words and ideas in and out of the country via such means as mass e-mails, proxy servers that aren’t yet blacked out and code words that aren’t yet on government blacklists.

Arrayed in battle against the hackers are the Chinese Communist Party and an assortment of Western firms that provide the hardware, software and search services that make the Chinese Internet run: Cisco, Google, Microsoft, Nortel Networks, Sun Microsystems and Yahoo. These companies are in a bind. They cannot do business in China except on terms dictated by the Chinese authorities, and that means zapping Web traffic that strays too far from the party line. But if they comply they become, in the eyes of Chinese dissidents, collaborators with an oppressive regime. More @ FrontPageMag


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