Government Blocks Encrypted Tunnels Through Great Firewall; Fang Binxing Talks Internet Sovereignty

Forbes reports that administrators of China’s Great Firewall Internet censorship system appear to be testing a new roadblock for encrypted connections which previously could access blocked websites:

In the cat-and-mouse game between Chinese censors and Internet users, the government seems to be testing a new mousetrap–one that may be designed to detect and block tunnels through its Great Firewall even when the data in those tunnels is aimed at a little-known computer and obscured by encryption.

In recent months, administrators of services with encrypted connections designed to allow users secure remote access say they’ve seen strange activity coming from China: When a user from within the country attempts to reach a server abroad, a string of seemingly random data hits the destination computer before he or she can connect, sometimes followed by that user’s communication being mysteriously dropped.

The anti-censorship and anonymity service Tor, for instance, has found that many of its “bridge nodes”–privately-placed servers around the world designed to connect users to the rest of Tor’s public network of traffic re-routing computers–have become inaccessible to Chinese users within hours or even minutes of being set up, according to Andrew Lewman, the project’s executive director. Users have told him that other censorship circumvention services like Ultrasurf and Freegate have seen similar problems, he says. “Someone will try to connect, then there’s a weird scan, and the bridge stops working,” says Lewman. “We see weird things all the time, but this is a semi-consistent weird thing, and it’s only coming from China.”

Also related, the so-called Father of the Great Firewall, Fang Binxing, recently gave a speech on “the future of Internet security” in which he emphasized the need for Internet sovereignty. Translated by Global Voices:

In his conclusion, he put forward the need for ensuring China’s Internet Sovereignty and there are four principles for enhancing such sovereignty:

1. Independency – Against foreign intervention of the network. The government can negotiate for unilateral or multinational agreement for network access.
2. Equality – Against monopoly of giant ISPs such as Sprint and the so-called global principle in Internet governance.
3. Self-Defense – In order to self-defense, a sovereignty should have the rights to cut off from illegitimate network connection.
4. Governance – Against unauthenticated connection, access and plugin. Fang used Google’s pulling out of China as an example to imply that when a company pulls out, its service in China should be ceased.