Hacking the Regime
How the Falun Gong empowered the Iranian uprising.
"... as the Chinese have escalated their efforts to stamp out the Falun Gong, the group has grown ever savvier in outwitting its oppressors. And it was the protestors in Iran who benefited from this savvy."
"...As the streets of Tehran erupted in the days following Mir Hossein Mousavi’s bizarrely lopsided defeat, the regime’s repressive apparatus kicked into full gear. Among its top priorities: shutting down access to the Internet. But, at this critical moment..., some of the government’s Internet filters failed. .... social-networking sites organized mass demonstrations and YouTube videos documented the brutal truncheons of the basij and the making of martyrs".
When these dissident Iranians chatted with each other and the outside world, ... their missives were being guided and guarded by ... Falun Gong programmers.... created programs called Freegate and Ultrasurf that allow users to fake out Internet censors. ..."
"... the Falun Gong’s program is particularly popular thanks to its simplicity and relative speed. In fact, according to Shiyu Zhou, the deputy director of GIFC, the Farsi software was initially so popular that the group shut it down soon after introducing it...."
"...on the day after the presidential election this past June, the engineers reopened ... to Iranians, as a gesture of solidarity. And, once again, they were overwhelmed. ... Within 20 hours, the number of Freegate users doubled to an estimated one million. ..."
"China, ...spent $800 million and enlisted the help of U.S. tech giants like Nortel and Cisco Systems to develop an initiative called the Golden Shield....to control and monitor the citizenry, ..."
"... A large bureaucracy is deployed to fine-tune and enhance the filters--giving the Chinese the capacity to allow users to read The New York Times while denying them articles in the Times that the regime deems dangerous. And that full-time bureaucracy is supplemented by hundreds of thousands of nationalistic part-timers who are paid to post pro-government comments on blogs and to drown out dissenting voices in Web forums. These bloggers are called the Fifty Cent Army, indicating that Chinese Web labor is cheap."
"The Golden Shield has become the envy of the authoritarian world. China has exported its technology to countries like Cuba and Belarus..."
" ... while the Falun Gong has managed to win the upper hand in its battle with the Chinese government, it has reason to be less sanguine about the future. The Chinese have returned to the cyber-nanny model..called the Green Dam,."
"In the world of ... freedom fighting--you innovate or die. The Falun Gong is determined not to go the way of the Commodore 64 into technological irrelevance. It has released a beta version of a new piece of software to overcome the Green Dam....It is called Green Tsunami."
Original report from
Eli Lake, “Hacking the Regime”,The New Republic, September 3, 2009,
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