Monday, January 06, 2014

Is the censor winning in China?

When I came to China for a visit, I routinely signed up for a VPN. Using a tool to circumvent China´s internet censorship seemed the most obvious thing to do. But here in Shanghai I discovered that using a VPN is not longer a standard procedure. It never was for Chinese users, but also friends and business people seem to live without one.
So that raises the question, who is winning the information war in China. When I ask the people without VPN why they accept the censorship in China, while it is easy to circumvent, they tell me they are not missing anything.
It sounds bit like the debate on social media. You get the same answer from people who are not using social media (yes, they too exist): they are not missing Twitter, Facebook or Google+. They are perfectly happy without internet tools others cannot survive without.
LinkedIn has boomed in China, partly they are for unknown reasons not blocked: many non-VPN users have the illusion they can surf freely online, because they have LinkedIn as a social network.
I have been trying to find out what number of foreign business people could survive without VPN in China, but even asking the question online does not make since. They are also not reading this weblog, since Blogger is also blocked.
It looks that, compared to the early days of the internet, censorship has become so subtle, people have a life online without using the websites and services that are blocked by the officials filters.
Possibly today´s news the Chinese editions of Reuters and the Wall Street Journal are no longer blocked, fits into that subtle censorship message. As long as enough information is seeping through the filters, people do not seem to bother. And they do no realize what they are missing.
Enhanced by Zemanta
Post a Comment