Ai Weiwei, a famous Chinese artist, architect and activist, is encouraging his fellow citizens to refuse all access to the internet, whether for work or fun, July 1, 2009.
It’s been two days since the controversial letter to the Chinese government hit the news. Mashable seems to imply that Ai is the originator of the protest while Reuters and the Daily News have said Ai is a vocal proponent.
A boycott of internet use is “… an online protest without any cost or risk,” Ai wrote in a letter to Reuters.
As I mentioned previously, the protests are against recent censorship such as the Green Dam initiative and the various issues the PRC has had with Google. The Green Dam initiative requires all laptops made in and shipped to China to have this software, which monitors web activity and blocks adult content.
The fear, however, is that the Green Dam software will allow increased political censorship. China already has many censorship projects, most notably the Golden Shield Project, which has caught the nickname of “The Great Firewall of China.”
Green Dam a security risk
Computers could be hijacked from the security leaks in the Green Dam software, multiple sources report.
“We examined the Green Dam software and found that it contains serious security vulnerabilities due to programming errors,” states a recent analysis from Wolchok, Yao and Halderman from the University of Michigan.
“Once Green Dam is installed, any web site the user visits can exploit these problems to take control of the computer. This could allow malicious sites to steal private data, send spam, or enlist the computer in a botnet.”
After this analysis the Green Dam software was updated, but the outlook still looks bleak.
“Even with the updated version installed, any web site a user visits can exploit this problem to take control of the computer. We continue to recommend that users protect themselves by uninstalling Green Dam immediately.”
Chinese citizens mock Green Dam’s flaws recently in the cartoonish version called the Green Dam Girl. “The Green Dam Girl character carries a rabbit (the Green Dam software’s mascot), wears a River Crab badge (a pun about ‘harmonious society that Chinese netizens use to mock Internet censorship), and holds a bucket of paint (or soy sauce) to wipe out online filth,” states the article “The Green Dam Girl” in Danwei.
Significance of July 1?
The protest is to happen on July 1, the first day of the Green Dam initiative.
July 1 is also a national holiday in the People’s Republic of China, celebrating the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Shanghai in 1921. Additionally, July 1 is celebrated in Hong Kong as activist march upon the city, heralding political freedoms, famously in 1989 supporting the Tiananmen Square protesters and in 2003 opposing a law denying protests rights against the PRC.
Is there an added significance to the protest being called on July 1? Perhaps. I wonder more, what is the significance of this software being launched on July 1?
Jumping the Great Firewall
Not yet discussed by news sources is a recent post on Global Voices Online entitled, “China: July 1 Operations: Jump the Great Fire Wall.” It seems there is an additional movement, found through Wenyunchao’s tweet, to enable masses to bypass China’s firewall. The link in the tweet send you to a google document, explaining how to bypass the “Great Firewall” and encourages the user to teach at least five others to do the same.Thanks again to Dave for the links and interest. As always, keep tuned in for more updates as July approaches.