Tuesday, February 3, 2009

new york times blocked again

I'm currently unable to access the New York Times online from my office here in Beijing.

My guess is that the block is due to this story: China Rights Advocate Who Tried to Aid Quake Victims' Parents Faces Trial.

Consistent with past blockages, I can access http://nytimes.com, but not http://www.nytimes.com. According to a commenter quoted by James Fallows, this could be because nytimes.com and www.nytimes.com technically have different IP addresses, and China is only blocking one.

I'll update as I hear / discover more. Can anyone confirm this?

Last time China blocked the New York Times, it was for a few days, from around December 19th to 22nd. I wonder how long the block will last this time.

Update 2/3/09 6:00pm
After being blocked for me for the entire afternoon, the New York Times is now back up again, including the article I mentioned above.

For anyone who thinks this was just some technical glitch or problem with my computer or my network, I refer you to this passage in James Fallows' Atlantic piece on the Great Firewall:
Taken together, the components of the control system share several traits. They’re constantly evolving and changing in their emphasis, as new surveillance techniques become practical and as words go on and off the sensitive list. They leave the Chinese Internet public unsure about where the off-limits line will be drawn on any given day. Andrew Lih points out that other countries that also censor Internet content—Singapore, for instance, or the United Arab Emirates—provide explanations whenever they do so. Someone who clicks on a pornographic or “anti-Islamic” site in the U.A.E. gets the following message, in Arabic and English: “We apologize the site you are attempting to visit has been blocked due to its content being inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political, and moral values of the United Arab Emirates.” In China, the connection just times out. Is it your computer’s problem? The firewall? Or maybe your local Internet provider, which has decided to do some filtering on its own? You don’t know. “The unpredictability of the firewall actually makes it more effective,” another Chinese software engineer told me. “It becomes much harder to know what the system is looking for, and you always have to be on guard.”
I wonder if perhaps the New York Times piece, which features dozens of sensitive terms, may have automatically triggered a block requiring review before being lifted.

Or perhaps the government read my blog and was embarrassed at being called out, and so lifted the block...

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