When you hear that there is to be new legislation to combat cybercrime, it does sound like a positive step. After all any legislation which stops criminal act, hacking and identity theft has got to be a good thing. It could also included child pornography, online bullying and just about any crime which could be committed or abetted online.

That has to be good, right?

Unfortunately, experience shows that it’s rarely as straight forward as that and cybercrime legislation is often used as a justification for censorship and curtailing free speech online. The usual method is to prepare something sufficiently vague and confusing that can be used whenever a government feels like it.


It looks like this classic tactic is being adopted by the St Vincent and Grenadine government who have just authorised a new Cybercrime bill. Now legislation involving such crimes should really dovetail existing criminal legislation ensuring protection for individuals and companies who are being potentially investigated. That means things like obtaining warrants and due cause before seizing or searching property and computers, yet so often these niceties seem to be bypassed when implementing any sort of cyber bill.

This legislation looks like it’s following the same path favored by despotic governments and states – ensure there are minimal protections and allow a huge amount of leeway for any investigation to basically make up the rules as they go along.

The worst aspect of this was highlighted by RSF

Defamation in print, written and broadcast media is punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment under Saint Vincent’s penal code, pre-dating the adoption of the Cybercrime Law, but the new legislation extends criminal defamation to online content.

It also broadens the already worrying criminal defamation laws to include anything said online, complete with very vague definitions of cyber bullying and harassment which could really be used to justify pretty much anything with a little artistic license.

Such laws almost certainly will negatively impact free speech and will possibly end up spreading across other Caribbean islands, there is little need for this part of the legislation. For anyone wishing to genuinely avoid this detection it is simple to do, in fact half my friends use a working Netflix VPN which will also create anonymity online. This is what real cyber criminals will do, protect themselves and certainly won’t be subject to being caught with online defamation. The people who will likely be subject will be newspapers, online media and ordinary individuals simply engaged in expressing opinions or debate. Who’s to guess that the first people prosecuted will be in some senses be critical of the government or someone with wealth and power.

We urge the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to remove this legislation or at least revise it urgently.

Joe Simpson
Video Blogger

If you look at world leaders, it would suggest that there is little bias in the corridors of power at least in Western based economies.   Hillary Clinton is pushing back the barriers to that huge last block – a female president of the USA.  The UK has it’s second female Prime-Minister and of course the most powerful leader in Europe is also a woman.

However there is still a huge battle going on for equality in many other areas of life.    If you take Fortune 500 companies, the biggest ones in the USA only 4% are run by women.  There are lots of statistics to support women are under- represented in board rooms or paid less than men, plus many suggest that women face huge bias in the media too.

It’s sometimes difficult to see, if I take my own experience I generally watch BBC World News streaming over my laptop using a VPN if travelling.

On first glance, there’s little here to suggest a media bias against women. In fact it almost seems that women are overly represented in some of the most visible roles. Many of the war correspondents are women, news readers are women and the reporters in charge of important sectors often are female too.

However if you start looking across the British and US media it’s not always who reports the news which is a problem but rather how it is reported. Take for example many of the interest stories regarding when Theresa May became Prime Minister – a lot focused on her preference of ‘kitten heels’. Huge sections of the UK tabloids covered this story, with many pictures and features on her footwear.

In the USA, many media outlets routinely cover Hillary Clinton and are critical of her fashion sense. Her ‘pant suits’ cover many column inches in the US media, certainly something that would look bizarre if directed at a male candidate. There is an obvious feeling that women are not only judged on their abilities and opinions but on their appearance too.

The reality is that although it looks like politics is an area which women have succeeded in obtaining parity that is rarely the case. In the UK, the British Parliament is less than 30% female while in US Congress that’s under 20%. There is still an imbalance and it’s almost certainly the way the media portrays and analyses women, certainly has some impact. After all a male politician is unlikely to be too concerned about fashion, where as women might realize it’s an issue that would effect them.

BBC News and Online Media, http://www.uktv-online.com/entertainment/watch-the-bbc-news-live-online/ James Burrows, Panda Press, 2016.

Turkey already has a poor reputation for free speech and democracy but things looked to have got even worse on March 4. The country already is ranked 139th in the Press Freedom index surrounded by countries with a less than stellar reputation like Russia, Iraq and Egypt to name but a few. This is likely to fall even further following the events of last week – one of the Government’s biggest critics the daily newspaper – the Zaman was effectively shut down.

This was no subtle, political move but a forceful military style closure amid rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons. The police stormed the newspaper and arrested or dispersed the newspaper’s employees – all part of a major crackdown against anyone who dares to criticize Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president.

A couple of days it re-opened with a startling new editorial policy which is simply to be a Government mouthpiece. It’s a shameful way for an alleged democracy to behave and is just another example of how the Turkish Government have absolutely no respect for the freedom of the press. If you need any example of the despotic rule of Erdogan you only need to look towards the law courts where 1845 people now are being prosecuted since August 2014 – the charges are all about insulting the president.

The Government has of course, a long track record of arresting and persecuting journalists however they seem to have moved up a notch with the closure of Turkey’s most popular daily newspaper on spurious claims of protecting national security (a favorite cause of despotic leaders across the world).

There is hope for the newspaper and hopefully for the press to continue to publish news in Turkey. The Zaman is hoping to continue to exist through it’s German edition – Sueleyman Bag, effectively forced into publishing in exile.

Further moves are expected against other anti-government media – the Cihan news agency had been similarly targeted. All this comes against many other attacks on individual freedoms and liberties – much of which will be difficult for Europe to ignore as Erdogan attempts to negotiate fast track European status using the immigration crisis as leverage.

Most Turks now rely on nes sources from outside the country, VPns and proxies are widely used whilst most have access to a UK or American IP address to bypass the many filters deployed on Turkish ISPs.

Netflix Wages War on VPNs

February 5th, 2016

There has been some alarm from Netflix watchers across the web over the last few weeks.  In tandem with their global rollout to 139 countries worldwide, Netflix has announced that it will cracking down on the use of virtual private networks which are used to watch it’s service.

Until the last few weeks, the vast majority of the world has had to live without Netflix and it’s vast collection of media and streaming services.    The reason that Netflix was only available in a select few countries wasn’t because of any deliberate censorship merely the result of licensing agreements for the vast majority of content available under the Netflix subscription.


Although you can potentially access a Netflix account in a variety of countries,  what is available varies greatly depending on your current location.  For example if I log on to my British based Netflix account in France, I will actually receive the French version of the service.  Netflix determines my location using geolocation techniques and redirects me automatically, worse if I’m in a country with no Netflix service I’ll simply get blocked.

For several years though, users in ineligible countries have been using VPNs to hide their real location in order to be able to access the Netflix service.  So I could sit in a country like Australia (which previously had no Netflix access) and use an English VPN or proxy like this to fool Netflix and connect to the UK.   The situation was rather bizarre with Netflix actually having over a quarter of a million subscribers in a country where their service wasn’t actually available.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for the media giant, many people used to buy IP addresses from these services even when they were in a valid Netflix region.  The problem was that for example the Canadian Netflix subscriber would gaze enviously at the US version of Netflix which had thousands more movies and TV shows for the same subscription, switching to a US IP address gave them access to all these movies.

It’s basically the licensing which is to blame for these problems – the media owners are still licensing their content as if it can be physically restricted and controlled.  The reality is that it can’t and the only feasible method – geo-restrictions are easily bypassed using these VPN services.  The problem is that people who use these services are at least paying for a legitimate subscription. those who don’t bother are simply re-streaming or downloading from illegal torrent and warez sites.

So is Netflix about to block all the VPN services that allow people to access their sites from different countries?  Well there a quite a few problems with this – the first is that it is technically very difficult with the only real method to black list specific IP addresses from the VPN providers.  The second problem is even more problematic – these ‘illegal viewers’ actually pay a huge amount to Netflix in subscription payments for example in China it is estimated that there are over 20 million subscribers of Netflix using VPNs.

Technically if the Chinese can’t block the VPN services properly then Netflix has no chance at all.  The losers will probably be the Smart DNS proxy service which are much easier to detect because their IP addresses don’t match the exact countries, but merely relay specific parts of the connection.

Further Reading


Turkish Journalist Jailed

December 3rd, 2015

Do democratic nations imprison journalists for making news reports which they don’t like?  Unfortunately this is what’s happening in Turkey at the moment as two journalists Can Dundar and Erdem Gul have been jailed after producing a report on Turkish Intelligence trucks being used to send arms to Islamist rebels in Syria.

The alleged crime is revealing ‘state secrets’ yet it is telling that this actually involves revealing allegations of corruption.  The stories detailed how the Syrian rebels were being supported with trucks and ammunition,  included with the reports were video footage of events too.


The arrest of the journalists took place after, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan filed charges of espionage against the journalist – if found guilty they face a life in prison.  It increasingly becomes obvious that Turkey is involved in some sort of war by proxy in Syria, worryingly with Russia doing something similar on the other side.

Turkish and Syrian relations have rapidly deteriorated over the last few years, yet surprisingly they were actually close allies before the civil war begun mainly fueled through a mutual hate of Israel.

It is a worrying time in Turkey with the Government instigating seevre clamp downs of civil freedoms and liberties. Certainly there is little freedom of the press with journalists likely to face a similar fate if they publish anything critical of the government.  Many web sites and social media sites are blocked and the authoritarian stance is being expanded to ordinary citizens who express themselves online on blogs or using video making software like this.

There are many journalists and bloggers in jail facing a variety of charges simply criticising Mr Erdogan is enough to get several years in jail.  The committee to Protect Journalists have been calling on Turkey to release various journalists including Mohammed Ismael Rasool who was arrested with two British journalist earlier in the year.  Virtually all the journalists who are in Turkish prisons are there on some sort of made up ‘anti-state’ charge.

Further Information on producing Video Slideshows available on this video.

When the internet was in it’s infancy, then we were all pretty much equal online. Of course initially it was only the lucky ones who could get connected mainly through schools, Universities and colleges. Then the technology started to appear to allow some basic home access and we all started saving up for 14.4k modems to connect our home pcs. In the mid-90s things started to snowball and more and more people became connected. The average user was still likely to be an academic or computer geek but even that profile was changing quickly.

Nowadays of course, it’s unusual to find someone who hasn’t been online at some point. Many of us arrange our lives and research crucial decisions by using the internet. Those of us living abroad, use it to stay connected with family and friends. There is no doubt that it’s the most incredible advance in communication since we learnt to speak and write. The world has become so much smaller due to the internet, and it’s common today to have virtual friends from all across the planet.


But things have also changed for the worse online in some aspects too. As I mentioned when the internet first appeared, everyone who could get online would find pretty much the same thing. That however is rapidly changing and most of us experience a rather customised version of the internet. Across the world many countries are implementing their own filters and restrictions on their internet access. From the Chinese who filter anything pretty much anything they deem to be unsuitable, usually anything critical of the state, to rulers following a more religious than political agenda. Many supposedly enlightened democracies are also following this route. Australian have already tested an extensive content filter (which fortunately didn’t go that well) and the Icelandic Government are intending to block all internet pornography – read about it here.

Whether or not you agree with these various blocks and filters, everyone should be aware of the dangers that this presents. The internet has developed because it is a vast open network accessible to all, the more people block, restrict and filter it’s content – we will be left with our own personal, edited version of the internet. Slowly and surely across the world, more and more sites will become accessible and lines of communications will be closed. We will no longer have access to everything but merely the sites that our particular country feel is suitable. Of course you’ll always be able to access more of the web in the USA than Iran, but there the risk is more commercial than pure ideology.

It is sad to see now that many countries who’s citizens could benefit most from the internet are already trying to shackle it. The internet could be one of the great economic miracles of Africa, but even now many countries are monitoring and filtering what you can do online. Equality on the internet was what we expected for all, but slowly it seems to be slipping away from us.

There is hope of course, as mentioned there are many, many ways to bypass such restrictions such as using an England Proxy..

Of course everyone knows that the internet is based on communication and cooperation. In fact the infrastructure itself is built up on a huge network of shared routers, switches and hardware – your web requests can take a huge variety of routes to reach their destination. As for bringing people together, probably nothing in human history has had such a profound effect particularly on geographic boundaries. It sounds a cliche to say that the ’world is a much smaller place’ but it is also a very true saying!

We all probably know people who speak regularly using the internet, my own mother speaks using Skype and video chat to my sister who now lives on the other side of the planet. They chat like people meeting in a coffee shop not in the sense of mother and daughter who haven’t seen each other for many months. Distances are not really as important, you can chat with a friend in minutes using a variety of inexpensive and instant methods. Decades ago a phone call to Australia would have to be planned and booked in advance, it would also have been very expensive.

However with all the positive news, it is unfortunate that there’s another side that’s growing on the internet primarily due to commercialism. The problem is that although the internet fits neatly into a nice open global model of no restrictions, no boundaries – commerce doesn’t quite work like that. Multinational companies rarely have a single price for a global market, instead varying their prices in order to maximise profits. Charging a high price in country’s who are able to support those levels and lowering in less affluent countries. This works fine where physical boundaries are in place, I might know that goods are much cheaper in China but I can’t go and buy them there very easily. The internet removes many of these boundaries particularly when combined with a reliable and inexpensive international delivery service.

Many people buy from a web site based in one country and get the goods delivered by courier to their home country. I bought several Nintendo Wiis from the French Amazon many years ago when you couldn’t buy them in the UK. But the companies don’t like this, especially when they’re supplying a service or digital product. Why would I care if I download an electronic book from New York or London? It wouldn’t matter to me, I’d go for price – which is why the company is likely to restrict access in another way in order to protect it’s margins.

So what is happening is that if I need access to a product like Pandora which is based in the United States or the BBC Iplayer from the United Kingdom. It will only be accessible if I’m actually based in the same country otherwise I’ll get blocked. So I need to change my iPad’s IP address to a UK one to watch the BBC and then back again to listen to Pandora. Slowly but surely electronic walls are being built to keep us back in our place.

Fortunately the internet’s fundamental structure makes this difficult, ideas are shared and walls are there to be torn down or avoided. If anyone find’s a route around these blocks the information soon finds itself into the public domain. Currently there are numerous methods available for bypassing these restrictions – most simply by using a proxy or British VPN server. Therefore if I was based in the United States and I wanted to watch the Hurling on Ireland’s national broadcasting company – all I need to do is connect via an Irish proxy to watch RTE.

For those of us of a certain age, the web represented something pretty exciting. Sure the technology was incredible, I can still remember the moment I used IRC (Internet Realy Chat) for the first time. I spoke for about 10 minutes with a welder from Detroit, mostly rubbish and stuff about the weather but it did blow my mind. Of course now only a few decades later, that really does sound kind of pathetic – people speak to each other all over the world without a second thought. Perhaps some of the magic has gone, but communication has to be a good thing – we will hopefully learn that there’s not much difference between us all.

internet-prices (1)

In those early days, the web was controlled by geeks – it wasn’t easy to use. You could search for stuff sure, but you needed Archie to search for files, in fact it’s often cited as the Internet’s first search engine. Or if we wanted document we’d fire up Gophur, which kinda worked pretty well when there were only a few thousand sites to search. It was quirky, exciting, controlled and developed by Geeks – and to be honest a wonderful place to be.

The internet now, is much more accessible, in a way that our young people probably can’t comprehend. You don’t have to fire up a Telnet session with the right parameters to do anything anymore. Video and multimedia streams content to any devices you require – it’s all interconnected like this. Switch on your mobile phone, click or press a few buttons and you’re sorted. It’s called progress and it’s of course no bad thing. What is worrying is the way the internet is being segmented on your location, your ability to pay or even your politics or religion.

Now big business is moving in, and they are starting to implement various economic profit maximisation techniques. Your location will control what you can see, want to watch the BBC News? Well you can’t unless you’re in the UK or use a proxy.  One of the most annoying is price discrimination where a company will try and maximizes profits by segmenting it’s markets. So a company will not offer a single product but a specific one to each individual market. Which is why you’ll find people asking – how to get netflix outside US – here by the way – simply because the version of Netflix they get is vastly inferior!

Further Information:

Quick IP Address changer – http://thenewproxies.com/quick-ip-address-changer/
Further Information – UK proxy service

My Egyptian Saviour

June 14th, 2015

I’ve been travelling for just over 8 months now, some two thirds of the way through my year of travelling. I promised myself this trip, I wanted to see something of the world before the responsibilities of growing up finally caught up with me. I had seen siblings and older friends postpone such trips and then the sadness that it might after all not be possible when jobs, kids and mortgages started to create their barriers.

It’s not that I didn’t want those things too, but I have always been pragmatic and realised that I was no different – I wouldn’t be able to run away from my responsibilities – the trick was to run away before I got too many. There have been many times in my trip that I thought to cut short my trips, stories of misfortune, worries about money, frustration and tiredness have all tempted me to go home. But of course, the main danger has been homesickness, normally when faced with some extreme alien scence and experience.  This was probably my lowest point, my nadir.

The scene is from the main train station in Cairo, where I arrived fed up, hot and utterly bewildered.  The day had started badly when I got on the wrong bus and found myself in the middle of nowhere, my fellow passengers seemingly gloating at my misfortune and inability to decipher the arabic numerals on the buses.  Then at the station it got worse, normally there was a friendly face around who could speak English but the station was devoid of such help.

Nearly half an hour was wasted standing in completely the wrong queue for obtaining a ticket down to Luxor.  It was then I stood there confused thinking why was I bothering, why didn’t I just get a cab to the airport and grab myself a flight home.  I’m not sure how far I was from it, but I suspect pretty close when a friendly English speaking voice brought me back from my day dream.  Mohammed was a star, he wasted an hour of his day assisting me, just a really good guy, even refusing an offer of ‘baksheesh’ after it was all over.  He came into my life, saved my trip and then dashed off to his lectures at the local university – hopefully he wasn’t late !!

From that point things started to get better, reclining in the lounge of the Winter Palace in Cairo with my laptop and there wifi connection I got more help.   I found this video on Youtube which showed me this IP address changing software

It sounds fairly trivial but after purchasing a trial account, I was able to access my online banking (previously blocked due to my location), watch an episode of the Simpsons using my Hulu account and watch my local news from back in Colorado. In truth between Mohammed’s kindness and a piece of geeky computer software my resolve was fortified and my trip was back on. From that evening strolling through the stunning temple of Karnak I never really felt lonely again.

Further Information

There’s a story in the press released last year of a truly horrible crime which in some senses defies belief. In Syria, a young girl has been stoned to death for a crime which in the civilised world is an everyday part of life.

The girl reportedly called Fatoum Al-Jassem was found guilty of opening a Facebook account, which was deemed immoral behaviour. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria were responsible for this atrocity, ruling that joining the social networking site should be classed as the same as adultery – which carries the death penalty.

The social networking site is actually banned from most of the areas like Syria and Iran anyway by the ruling governments. Their objections to the site are not so much moral but because they are used to communicate, organise and protest. Many young people still do use the site though by using proxies or other similar methods as a facebook unblocker , just like this video demonstrates.

The ISIS is a pro-Al Qaida jihadist group that lots of people are worried is taking an iron grasp over parts of Syria.
The group was formed in April 2013 and grew out of Al Qaeda’s affiliate organisation in Iraq. It has since grown into among the principal jihadist groups fighting government forces in Syria.
It took over AlReqqa after rebels overran the city in March 2013. It was the very first provincial capital to fall under rebel control.

You can read more about this story here.

In Afghanistan, people have become very disillusioned with the wide scale rigging which has been reported in all the previous election campaigns so have decided to fight back.  Many of the more tech orientated voters have taken to social media in order to highlight some of the issues.

It’s an important step forward in a country that has been blighted with corruption since the Taliban were ousted from power.  There are many videos being circulated widely in Afghanistan using social media, of problems during the election process.  All of these are being studied by the Election Complaints Committee who welcome such reports.

There have been a variety of subjects of these videos – ballots being stuffed very quickly, reports of harassment of voters, and even voting slips strewn across the pavements.   Of course the election process there is not perfect but being able to highlight these issues is a huge step forward for the democratic process.

Imagine the difference – twenty years ago, these ballots could be quietly fixed in favor of whoever had the most money and influence.   There would be little more than rumors and innuendo about the validity of an election.  But now thanks to social media, there will be proof being distributed to all areas of the country.  Any cheating will be very visible through sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The video is above and clearly shows vote rigging in operation for the candidate Ashraf Ghani.  Fortunately the internet is fairly open and uncensored there and people are able to share such information fairly freely using the established social networks , they can use tools like this if required to bypass a Facebook block for instance.

Although the cheating is still going on both the methods and the benefactors are clearly visible in video evidence like this.    The effect of social media can only be beneficial to the democratic process overall.   There are many countries where it’s not possible to distribute this much evidence using the internet unless they change their IP address (method here) to bypass such blocks


I’m not sure how it’s being received and many Westerners may find it quite incredible but South Korea have just mandated a new law that will affect all teenagers under the age of 19.   It states that an application called ‘Smart Sheriff’ should be installed on all their smart phones and communication devices.

Not surprisingly, the application developed through the South Korean government is designed to monitor and block inappropriate web sites and offensive content.  It is being portrayed as a benign application designed to protect children but of course as with most of these sort of initiatives it doesn’t quite stop there.   Smart Sheriff is a complete surveillance application capable of much more and actually works with a variety of other functions too.


It also allows parents to be notified of their children’s location, receive alerts when they attempt to search or access anything with specific banned words.   It’s big brother gone crazy and there is little doubt that the application will be used for much more than just parental concerns.  Most organisations suspect that it will be used as an extensive surveillance network for the government, a view supported by the fact that parents who haven’t installed the application are being harassed in order to install it.

It is of course, an exercise that is doomed to failure as all of these censorship and surveillance methods ultimately to.  Of course, no teenager wants their every conversation monitored by their parents of the government, in fact as a parent the thought horrifies me too!   Most are ensuring they don’t buy new phones, older ones are not covered in the scheme – and others are investing in traditional vpn and encryption devices.  South Korea is a rich country and most students are easily available to afford to buy US IP address to install on their phones and protect their communication although whether the government will attempt to block these too is unknown.

Of course, South Korea however extreme their surveillance measures extend to the population can always point over the border and claim that it could be worse.   However these actions are clearly an attack on free speech and the privacy of their citizens.

James Collins

Author: British Programmes Online



It’s a common tactic especially in the USA, practiced by democratically elected governments when they wish to introduce laws that violate people’s rights.  The trick they have found is to give it a either a nice or misleading name.  The US have many examples of this particularly in the (lack of) privacy area.  Take for example the 2001 Patriot Act – sounds nice and friendly but actually led the way to mass surveillance of internet communications.

So it’s hardly likely that many people concerned with our privacy are slightly wary of the USA Freedom Act which is claimed will reign in the NSA’s data collection powers, specifically the way they collect data in bulk.


So is the Freedom Act really going to restrain the NSA in their mass surveillance efforts, or as many suggest is it actually extending the current situation and extending the possibilities of Government surveillance?  Does it mean everyone is still a target or just those of us who make an effort to protect their privacy.  Some people extensively use thing like vpns and encryption for mundane everyday tasks for example I use a BBC iPlayer proxy just to watch the BBC and nothing more sinister although it will make my communication unreadable because it is encrypted.

Really, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week the N.S.A.’s mobile metadata surveillance program was never really authorized by Congress. But the USA Freedom Act would expand this provision until 2019, and, crucially, it could tweak the language allowing the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance systems to continue, with only minor restrictions.

At first glance, much of what is in USA Freedom seems great: a fresh public promoter for the F.I.S.C. court would raise surveil transparency, and new constraints on majority data collection would appear to reign-in the N.S.A. Sadly, these constraints are negated by a host of new secrecy issues and loopholes.

The bill expands the kind of information the authorities accessibility from landline call data to video chats, VoIP calls and smartphone task. The authorities will nevertheless have the ability to make use of extensive search terms to target substantial parts of the populace, plus they are able to gather a lot more info from contacts “linked” to those goals. Businesses that give customer data over to the authorities will soon be rewarded with blanket immunity from lawsuits when they break their own secrecy deals with customers. The N.S.A. will share info with the F.B.I., which can subsequently use the info for investigations unrelated to counterterrorism. As well as the authorities can block the F.I.S.C. promoter from seeing anything they need to keep secret.

Follow the cash and you will uncover that campaign contributions disproportionately support the members from businesses that profit from mass surveillance. The members of the House who voted for USA Freedom received, typically, more than two times as much cash through the latest election cycle in the defense sector than did.

These businesses possess a monetary interest to make sure Congress doesn’t restrict the government’s skill to gather and analyze huge levels of communications data. Maybe that is why the USA Freedom Act is supported by the Intelligence Community.

Technical Reference 


The Great Cannon of China

April 16th, 2015

China is expanding it’s censorship of free speech from within it’s own boundaries to the rest of the internet.  Perhaps frustrated that it’s very difficult to control access to data on the internet even when you throw unlimited resources at firewalls and content filters, they have adopted a new tactic.  It’s a very worrying one, and although only a few sites have been affected so far it’s entirely conceivable that they could extend this tactic to any other website they wish – perhaps sites that give access to UK and US TV for example like this.


The tactic is much more aggressive and centers around something dubbed the ‘Great Cannon of China’, however although a censorship tool it doesn’t actually block anything.   The ‘cannon’ is used to bring down specific websites using a Denial of service attack.  It essentially works by hijacking legitimate traffic (in this example it was the Chinese Search engine – Baidu) and redirect it towards the offending web site.   The first evidence was directed towards the Greatfire.org which is a site which specifically monitors Chinese censorship and provides information on how to cirucmvent them using things like iPad VPNs and proxies.

It’s a very aggressive approach is it’s true and state sponsored, unfortunately it’s a very effective tool.  The reality is that not many web sites are capable of withstanding an attack on this scale, the Chinese monitoring site was completely swamped and unable to cope.   Even when they were able to cope with the traffic on their 4 mirror sites it meant that the bandwidth bills have cost the site thousands of dollars in extra costs.

It would be hoped that the Chinese Government will be roundly criticised for this aggressive censorship to countries and sites hosted outside it’s borders.  One of the big problems though is that the UK and US governments have already developed similar internet weapons with the same capabilities, although there is currently no hard evidence that these have been deployed.  Only the larger and popular sites will probably come onto the media radar however, smaller sites swamped by the traffic or the resulting web costs will probably just sink from view and disappear along with whatever opinions the Chinese authorities disliked