What Is The Great Firewall of China?
Updated: Mar 23, 2022
The Great Firewall is the name used to categorize the People's Republic of China's effort to censor and regulate the internet and the knowledge thereon within their borders. The Great Firewall refers to a combination of legislative and technological initiatives used to limit access to foreign information, block foreign internet sites, and require foreign companies operating in China to adhere to Chinese censorship laws.
China's view of the Internet is one of "Internet sovereignty": the notion that the Internet inside the country is part of the country's sovereignty and should be governed by the country . As such, and given the lack of free speech laws in the communist controlled country, the Chinese government has cracked down on information they do not control via the Great Firewall.
Aside from outright censorship of information, the Great Firewall system also includes the monitoring of domestic websites, emails, and searches for messaging that does not coincide with the Community Party line. When content they feel is offensive is found, Officers are often dispatched and arrests are made.
The government of China has gone so far to to enumerate 9 categories of information which should be censored, blocked, or filtered from access to the citizens using the internet within China:
Opposing the basic principles as they are confirmed in the [Chinese] Constitution.
Jeopardizing the security of the nation, divulging state secrets, subverting state power, or jeopardizing the integrity of the nation's unity
Harming the honor or the interests of the nation
Inciting hatred against peoples, racism against peoples, or disrupting the solidarity of peoples
Disrupting national policies on religion, propagating evil cults and feudal superstitions
Spreading rumors, disturbing social order or disrupting social stability
Spreading obscenity, pornography, gambling, violence, murder, terror, or abetting the commission of a crime
Insulting or defaming third parties, infringing on the legal rights and interests of third parties
Containing any other content prohibited by law or administrative rules
The Rise of the Iron Firewall
While many in China have found ways around the Great Firewall, the program has been largely successful in censoring and curtailing speech. As such, it should come as no surprise that Russia is looking to raise an Iron Firewall around itself.
We see the government of Mr. Putin already taking steps in this direction with the launch of a Russian alternative to Instagram and the threat of an outright ban of various Meta owned social media companies; Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram.
One can easily imagine a scenario where the internet truly fractures with walled gardens for various powers. Russia and China are already building their great walls but it would be no surprise if Iran or North Korea or some other actor on the world stage began erecting their own cutting off their people from vital information.
For over 30 years the world has come closer thanks to the free exchange of ideas and information beyond government control. If current trends continue, this interconnectivity may become a thing of the past.