CNN interviews Rebecca Mackinnon, noted China Internet analyst and assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre, on the recent Internet crackdown in China:
CNN: What do you think prompted this action by China?
MacKinnon: There are crackdowns from time to time. Generally, before Chinese New Year, there is some sort of anti-porn crackdown that takes place. It’s a seasonal thing, not many people are entirely shocked. There was a crackdown on an online video site, which resulted to a 24 hour shutdown. Companies in China have expectations of these sorts of things and prepare to deal with it.
CNN: Please explain the “Great Firewall of China.”
MacKinnon: This crackdown doesn’t have anything to do with the Great Firewall of China. However, it was a term coined by Chinese Internet users to describe the process of Internet filtering. Internet filtering is a technical term of blocking access to Web sites. Certain Web sites are blacklisted and accessing it in China becomes difficult, as you will get an error message or your network connection will die for a while. A way to get around is using proxies. This was what some people experience in China when they try to access certain content. An example of this was the events of Tibet where Web sites such as humanitarian Web sites could not be accessed.