These Activists Are Plotting To End Internet Censorship In China


“I hope we put ourselves out of business,” said Charlie Smith, the pseudonymous head of Great Fire. And he was serious. After all this Chinese Internet monitoring watchdog is no ordinary case.

Started in 2011 by three anonymous individuals tired of China’s approach to the internet,itinitiallytracked the effects of the country’scensorship system on websites. Over time, ithas risen to become perhaps the most trusted authority on the subject.

The Great Fire site itself is censorshipdatabase. Visitorsto input a URLto determine if the website isblocked inChina. It is available in English and Chinese, and periodically tests its collectionof over 100,000 URLs to produce a history of the availability/restriction for each one. A hugely useful resource in its own right, GreatFire has come to mean a lot more than just checks. These days, thethree founders document new instances of internet restrictions and foul play in China viathe organization’s blog and @greatfirechina

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