For as long as there’s been an Internet, China has sought to monitor and control how its citizens use it. Technology known as “The Great Firewall” blocks web sites on an array of sensitive topics (democracy, for instance), while tens of thousands of government monitors and citizen volunteers regularly sweep through blogs, chat forums, and even e-mail to ensure nothing challenges the country’s self-styled “harmonious society.” Together this massive network of Internet nannying is imperiously called “the Golden Shield Project.”
Now China is requiring you to submit photo ID to the government if you want to create a website. This isn’t really a surprise given China’s massive internet censorship (“Great Firewall”) efforts, but apparently the Chinese government is now requiring anyone who wants to set up a website in the country to submit identity cards and photos of themselves before they can build a site.
Although the dispute between the Chinese government and Google continues to evolve, there were signs at the beginning of April 2011 that a ceasefire may be taking hold, one that could allow both sides to plausibly claim victory. At the end of March, Google failed to renew its Internet Content Provider license in China; since an ICP license is required for all China-registered commercial websites, this effectively sounded the death knell for Google’s simplified-Chinese search engine, google.cn. All requests for the google.cn website are now redirected to Google’s Hong Kong site, www.google.com.hk.
There are at least three reliable services that help you test Internet filtering in China. All have computers located in different cities of China that try to access your site using a ping command. If you get a “Packets lost” error or a time-out while connecting to your site, chances are that the site is restricted.
They have checkpoints inside Hong Kong and Shanghai in China.
This service too has monitoring stations inside Hong Kong and Shanghai in China.
In addition to Hong Kong and Shanghai, this site conducts connectivity tests from Beijing. Unlike services that simply do a ping test, this service tries downloading the complete HTML web page. The total response time shows how long it takes for your website to download.