Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship Government The Internet Politics

China Now Blocking RSS Feeds 73

Posted by Zonk
from the keeping-things-simple dept.
Phurge passed us an Ars Technica link covering China's newest internet-based crackdown: RSS feeds. Real Simple Syndication has apparently been a fairly foolproof way to get around Chinese government censors in recent years. As long ago as August, though, access to feeds has been curtailed by the Great Firewall. "More recent reports tell us that the PSB appears to have extended this block to all incoming URLs that begin with 'feeds,' 'rss,' and 'blog,' thus rendering the RSS feeds from many sites — including ones that aren't blocked in China, such as Ars Technica — useless ... there are a few workarounds, some of which may be simpler than others. Some of our readers in China tell us that web-based feed aggregators, such as NewsGator Online, (sort of) help provide access to RSS feeds. One reader says that if he has the aggregator set to display the full post (or however much of the post is made available) and clicks through to read more, everything is just fine."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

China Now Blocking RSS Feeds

Comments Filter:
  • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Friday October 05, 2007 @12:51PM (#20869755)
    Change RSS to LSS and we'll call it even.
    • by chuck (477)
      Ludicrously simple syndication?
    • Or xml to lml http to lttp i'm sure the developers working for china can block things just as easy as someone can rename something - the real answer is democratic freedoms, and not in the "we say your free but have big brother" type of way, but in the real democracy type of way
  • We've heard of other nefarious tricks to get around the firewall, too. One involves an SSH connection to somewhere outside the country, such as the US, in order to have unrestricted access to RSS, the web, you name it. Another involves the popular Firefox extension gladder, which is a proxy tool that advertises itself as a "Great Ladder" to get over the Great Firewall. Finally, the Tor tool is also popular; it allows a client computer to access the Internet anonymously through a network of virtual tunnels--a series of tubes, one might say. This would allow Chinese users to eventually gain access to the Internet through a Tor node that is located outside of the country.

    1. Tor is nefarious? Isn't nefarious necessarily something evil (as opposed to tricky)?
    2. Wouldn't you be in deep trouble if they caught you using a bypassing method? I wouldn't put it above the government to make you "go missing" after they catch you. SSH, after all, is relatively easy to track.

    No, there is no ??? or profit step. The Chinese government already has better ways to gain money. </preemptive strike>

    • by techpawn (969834)

      Isn't nefarious necessarily something evil (as opposed to tricky)?
      nefarious :
      * abominable; atrociously sinful or villainous
      * extremely wicked; "nefarious schemes"; "a villainous plot"; "a villainous band of thieves"
      Yes
    • by jarl1976 (1000672)

      Wouldn't you be in deep trouble if they caught you using a bypassing method? I wouldn't put it above the government to make you "go missing" after they catch you. SSH, after all, is relatively easy to track.

      The chinese government doesn't quite work like that.. They don't care to much about a few people being able to bypass any measures, they care about the huge masses of internet users who just give up immediately if a page is blocked. A few geeks (in addition to most foreigners in china) won't start a revolution..

  • That's all feed:// URLs use, innit? A fake protocol always seemed bogus to me. You already have a MIME type.
    • I've never heard of feed:// before this point. All my RSS feeds have used http://./ [.]

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mini me (132455)
        Safari uses the feed:// "protocol" for RSS/Atom feeds, even though it's still really just HTTP under the hood. It allows you to enter, for example, feed://slashdot.org and it will automatically find the appropriate feed for the site instead of having to type: http://rss.slashdot.org/Slashdot/slashdot [slashdot.org].
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by brunascle (994197)
      i think they meant the hostname or path part of the URL, not the protocol (as "blog" isnt a protocol, is it?).
      • by fbjon (692006)
        blog:// is a popular protocol for wide distribution of disinformation and factoids.
  • The ironic thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Enlarged to Show Tex (911413) on Friday October 05, 2007 @12:58PM (#20869905)
    All China really has to do in order to control information flow nationwide is to deregulate the media and force them to compete vigorously against one another. They'll be so cost-pressured that they can't really do any journalism; instead, they'll end up so short-staffed that all they can do is publish the stuff that the government wants them to publish.

    Barring that, the internet will simply detect the censorship and route around it, just like it always does...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      All China really has to do in order to control information flow nationwide is to deregulate the media and force them to compete vigorously against one another. They'll be so cost-pressured that they can't really do any journalism; instead, they'll end up so short-staffed that all they can do is publish the stuff that the government wants them to publish.

      I think that's just a little too ironic to be true. Can you give us a case study? I would have thought that deregulation would just open up a flood of negat

      • by Raenex (947668)

        And besides, there are always crackpots who'll do some investigative journalism.
        Is this a "velvet flamebait"?
  • I doubt chinese government's efford. For a normal person will almost never visit sites other than in Chinese. Those who does however will always find a work around.
  • by Sam H (3979) <sam@zoy.org> on Friday October 05, 2007 @01:02PM (#20869951) Homepage
    By far the best evidence of a civilised country. Ever.
  • ... not {politics for nerds}.

    btw I've been under the shadow of the Great Firewall since China has internet. This is just normal case. Something is not being smart enough in the GFW API the Communist Party bought from you Americans. Perhaps somebody's LAN got trojaned and tried to slashdot a moderately sensitive (pardon me) site and the GFW got soooooo exited by the event .... :-)
  • While its interesting to find a workaround to the great firewall of China, one has to remember that it is illegal for a Chinese citizen to violate the Firewall. Furthermore, if you, as a foreigner are visiting China, it is just as illegal for you to bypass the Chinese Firewall.. If the authorities find out, you will likely face severe penalties. You have to ask yourself, is it worth it to read Slashdot or Ars RSS feeds, while you are on vacation in China? Perhaps you should wait till you get back, so yo
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by gzipped_tar (1151931)
      Illlllegal? As far as I know there's no law banning me from SSHing some remote host not explicitly blacklisted by the Chinese Gov't (i'm Chinese). And we don't even know who we are against. We don't know who operate and are responsible for the GFW. No*body*. The GFW is a more a cult, or humor, or both, than someting substantial for me, but it is _really_ there. The GFW works just like the Babylonian Lottery of Jorge L. Borges (at least for me). Errrr, am I offtoopic?
      • by fbjon (692006) on Friday October 05, 2007 @01:50PM (#20870759) Homepage Journal

        Illlllegal?
        Sans-serif must die.
      • by Raenex (947668)

        We don't know who operate and are responsible for the GFW.

        There's a lot of info at Wikipedia: Internet censorship in the People's Republic of China [wikipedia.org]. Yeah, it's Wikipedia. Maybe it's a CIA misinformation page. Then again, a lot of it may be true. You live in China, you can verify it better than I.

        The GFW works just like the Babylonian Lottery of Jorge L. Borges (at least for me).

        I had never heard of that story [wikipedia.org] before. Quite an interesting perspective :) The Wikipedia article talks about some of that:

        "Internet censorship in the PRC has been called "a panopticon that encourages self-censorship through the perception that users are being wat

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by gzipped_tar (1151931)
          Thank you for the info but...
          unfortunately we are not able to read Wikipedia now in China without the 'workarounds'. It has been blocked by the Firewall. Btw, we hear rumors that the Chinese government is running proxy servers outside China in order to find out who (or at least, how many people) are using proxy servers as a Firewall workaround.
          As far as I know there hasn't been any lawsuit against the Firewall's operators. So, if I own a site and I lost 1 million Renminbi because of the Firewall's behav
    • The problem for China is that if they become effective at imposing these draconion rules, then using the internet in any fashion will become such a risk that no one will do it. They will cripple their economic growth. The Sarbanes-Oxley [wikipedia.org] can be used as a model for what happens [realclearpolitics.com] when a country makes doing business to expensive and risky that no one wants to invest in it. In this case the USA has seen a massive shift of capital investment out of the country. The same thing will happen to China if they keep
    • Have you actually been to China?
      I've lived there for a few years and I have to say that this is nonsense. The concept of a "great firewall" is pretty misleading to start with, but I digress.

      It doesn't need to be illegal to bypass the firewall, and students in the field of computing, I've talked to routinely use proxies, tor and encryption without getting thrown in prison. It doesn't need to be illegal because censorship works so long as most people can't reach most of the information most of the time. It is
    • by calix0815 (899216)
      Worst case scenario for a foreigner is to get kicked out of the country. You'd need to do something really bad (we're talking political offences here) to land in jail or detention (for longer time anyway). Maybe a slightly higher risk for ethnic chinese foreigners, in particular if they are china born.
    • by jamar0303 (896820)
      Well... I think it would be pretty high-profile if they did that, depending on who they threw in jail. If it was Steve Jobs in Shanghai demonstrating RSS feeds on Safari or whatever I wouldn't care, though.
  • by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Friday October 05, 2007 @01:14PM (#20870143)
    I thought Socialism was about the ideal of giving power to the people rather than an elite oligarchy. What the hell happened? Censorship usually comes from an insecure and weak oligarchy desperate to maintain privilege.
    • by grahamd0 (1129971)
      Because all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
      • many years ago Deng Xiaoping (the Chinese president then) said something like "(the govenment should let) a few people 'get richer first' " when he refers to the interpretation of socialism (the official one). I don't know how to translate that well in English but it is a very famous saying now in China.
        Now President Hu Jintao is advocating his 'harmony society' ideas and we have the next saying: let a few people get more harmony first.
    • Maybe because Socialism is the idea of giving power to the people rather than an elite oligarchy, to gain popular support among people for an elite oligarchy, so that power can be gained by that elite oligarchy. Censorship is then used to dumb down the population to maintain power.
    • The problem with communism in every country that tried it, was that it concentrated power, which allowed it to be siezed by tyrants or oligarchies.

      Any system that allows power to concentrate will end up an oligarchy.

  • Why all the trouble blocking rss-this or blog-that? Deploy the backhoes and goatse your infrastructure!
  • by GnarlyDoug (1109205) on Friday October 05, 2007 @01:17PM (#20870201)
    China is heading toward becoming a living example of a Reductio ad Absurdum. [wikipedia.org] The internet is now the critical infrastructure over which information flows. To use Marxist terms, it is becoming critical to defining the Mode of Production [wikipedia.org] for a society. It is becoming powerful for social relations, organization and management, and education among other elements. Their own philosophy tells them why thier own actions will cripple thier development.

    China will have to choose between having the internet and being a world power using the tools of the 21st century, or becoming isolated from the rest of the world on all levels. The internet is becoming the primary infrastructure for a new future. The idea of becoming or staying economicaly and politically viable without it is naive and foolish. It would be like trying to become a economic and military power in the 20th century without an industrial base to build anything.

    • More proof that building closer economic ties to China will bring freedom and democracy there.
    • ...if they keep this up. They'll just step up trade with bogus regimes like burma and the sudan and saudi arabia and such places where they can get natural resources and the leaders share a similar "overlord" political philosophy, including using the intarweb.

      They are rapidly nearing (or have crossed, I think they have) the point where they won't need US or western europe as customers. Think on the ramifications of that one for a bit. They have their own billion + plus people (an internal mar
      • Good post. You're getting into some of the more interesting aspects of the whole problem.

        Their own population can only be customers if their population has expendable wealth. You could have a googleplex of destitute dirt farmers and not sell one iPod. The only economic system that has ever produced a large wealthy middle class is capitalism. So long as China continues to allow capitalism to be the dominant mode of production and so long as they are competitive they can use their population as customer

  • I'm sure we're doing the Chinese a great service by discussing the various ways they might circumvent the great firewall. Not that anybody would go report harmful information to the Ministry of Internet

    The ministry has also established a system of online reporting centers that encourage citizens to report "harmful" information

    http://www.cfr.org/publication/9856/us_internet_providers_and_the_great_firewall_of_china.html [cfr.org]

  • Now a days there are plenty of sites that allow you to add your own RSS feeds on the site. Find one that's not blocked and setup the RSS feeds on it.
  • Ever wonder... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kemushi88 (1156073)
    ...if there are people in other countries talking about the "great US firewall" that we aren't even aware of?
    • Re:Ever wonder... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Friday October 05, 2007 @03:05PM (#20871845)
      No, I don't. Creating such a thing would require a large effort involving the collusion of thousands of people. Given that broad set of implementors, and the US traditions of freedom of the press, something like you describe would be impossible to keep secret. I don't doubt that there are probably several neo-fascist law makers in the US that would advocate for this. However, given what I have laid out, they would have to do it in the open rather than in secret.
      • by g-san (93038)
        But you have to admit it would be much easier if you put all the at&telcos under the same roof. :)

        I imagine all we hear outside about China and the "firewall" is similar to what "an outsider" might hear about file sharing networks. People are getting sued, omg, and ISPs are throttling torrent traffic, and movie studios are poisoning downloads and tracking and guess what... you can still get anything you want. You can still get movies the night they are released. You can find the latest CD. You can find
    • by Echnin (607099)
      Chinese people who use the internet often know about the firewall. Well, at least they know how to bypass it to watch porn.
  • I was in China for the last couple of weeks and was actually rather surprised that I was able to access Slashdot there. With all the stories here about the Great Firewall and Chinese censorship, along with ways to circumvent them, I figured Slashdot would be blocked. Now I'm starting to wonder how widespread and effective their censorship efforts actually are. I did see a news report there about the plan to have little cartoon characters popping up on users' screens if they are found to be searching for
    • by penteren (793643)
      I'm in China and can get Slashdot's RSS feeds via Google Reader. Now I know why Slashdot always fails to connect if I attempt to go to the original article by clicking on the feed header! If I use the "read the original article" link, which is a direct http URL, I don't have any problems. The topic of blogs seems to make the censors a bit schizophrenic. One day a whole domain such as Typepad.com will be blocked. The next day it won't. Or it may be blocked for two-three months and then suddenly accessible a
  • They could always set up websites that work like http://www.siliconnews.net/ [siliconnews.net] they integrate many rss feeds into one web page. I also believe http://naviwire.com/ [naviwire.com] is launching soon providing the same service but over a broad spectrum of topics other than technology
  • I think the fact is wrong. China is not blocking all RSS feeds. Some are blocked, though, including the Slashdot RSS. However, the CNET RSS is still accessible.

    Also, the phenomenon I observed seems to indicate the IP address of a related site is completely blocked. It is not like keyword filtering at all, which will involve RESET packets and some obvious browser actions.

    I have also found that rss.slashdot.org and feeds.arstechnica.com share the same IP address, whose name is feeds.feedburner.com. I

    • by jamar0303 (896820)
      Nope- Slashdot RSS works fine for me. Just have to pass it through another site (I personally use Livedoor Reader [livedoor.com], but any other web-based RSS reader works, as does Opera Mini on my cellphone).
      • by adah (941522)

        Nope- Slashdot RSS works fine for me. Just have to pass it through another site (I personally use Livedoor Reader, but any other web-based RSS reader works, as does Opera Mini on my cellphone).

        I do not see anything in your post contradict with mine. What I said was that the IP of the site rss.slashdot.org is blocked from China, and there did not seem to be keyword filtering on "rss". Your report only confirmed this.

    • The Party has never favored self-serve information aggregate sites like FeedBurner or LiveJournal, or Wikipedia...

      One bad page and the whole server (physical server, not a single virtual site) got censored.

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

Working...