Architect of China’s “Great Firewall” gives rare interview

architect of chinas great firewall gives rare interview fang binxing

In a rare interview, Fang Binxing, the creator of China’s “Great Firewall,” admits to having six VPNs on his home computer that skirt the elaborate defenses that China maintains on Internet access on content…but claims he only uses them to test his creation. “I only try them to test which side wins: the GFW or the VPN,” Fang said in an interview with the Global Times. “I’m not interested in reading messy information like some of that anti-government stuff.”

China’s Internet censorship regime is infamous for not only blocking access to a number of popular Internet sites and services, including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, but also for blocking information on politically sensitive topics (like Secretary of State Clinton’s recent remarks on Internet freedoms)

Fang, a self-described scholar, is president of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. He candidly admits to being a key designer for parts of China’s Great Firewall, which reportedly started operating in 1998 or 1999, and expanded to cover almost all Internet access in China in 2003. Fang says his design was selected on its merits. “The country urgently needed such a system at that time.”

Fang recently launched a microblog on Sina, China’s equivalent of Twitter, only to be swarmed with abusive comments and vitriol from frustrated Chinese Internet users venting their anger over China’s Internet access restrictions. In an ironic twist, the furor over Fang’s microblog resulted in use of his name being blocked on many leading Chinese Web sites…thanks in part to technology Fang helped develop. Fang seemed to take the criticism in stride: “They can’t get what they want so they need to blame someone emotionally: like if you fail to get a U.S. visa and you slag off the U.S. visa official afterwards.”

Although Fang would not discuss the degree to which China filters the Internet, he did reiterate Chinese claims that almost every nation exerts control over its citizens Internet access. “As far as I know, about 180 countries including South Korea and the U.S. monitor the Internet as well.” Fang also acknowledged the Great Firewall is a brute force tool, blocking access to information solely on the presence of particular words or terms, without taking into account the context in which they are being used. He also acknowledged that China’s Great Firewall is routinely breached by net-savvy individuals using VPNs and proxies to circumvent China’s filtering—just like Fang does on his own computer—but held out hopes the technology would improve.

[Image: Global Times]

Business

Chinese court upholds Qualcomm's complaint that Apple infringed on two patents

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Computing

Qualcomm’s dual-screen PC concept looks like two connected Surface Go tablets

In Qualcomm's video teaser, we got a glimpse of the company's vision for how a dual-screen ARM PC should work. The internet reacted to Qualcomm's video, calling the device in question merely a mashup of two Surface Go tablets.
Movies & TV

'Stranger Things' season 3 teaser reveals the new episodes' titles

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season.
Computing

You can now get a Surface Laptop 2 for $800 at the Microsoft Store

Along with deals on other variants, starting configurations of Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 are now going for $800 online at its retail store, cutting $200 from its usual $1,000 starting price. 
Computing

Need a monitor for professional photo-editing? These are the very best

Looking for the best monitor for photo editing? You'll need to factor in brightness, color accuracy, color gamut support and more. Fortunately, we've rounded up the best ones for you, to help you make an educated purchase.
Computing

Canada’s winters inspired a startup to warm homes with cryptomining heat waste

Cryptomining may be the key to untold riches and the future of currency, but it’s also an environmental nightmare. Heatmine, thinks it has the answer, but it could mean bolting a mining rig onto every home and business in the country.
Computing

HDR monitors are beginning to have an impact. Here are the best you can buy

HDR isn't the most common of PC monitor features and is often charged at a premium, but the list of available options is growing. These are the best HDR monitors you can buy right now.
Computing

You’ll soon be able to scribble all over PDFs on your Chromebook

Chrome OS users may soon be able to doodle all over their PDF documents with the possible addition of a new feature in Chrome OS' PDF viewer. The annotation feature is expected to allow users to hand draw or write over their documents.
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive: Prices drop, but our favorite stays the same

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.
Computing

Microsoft’s Windows 95 throwback was just an ugly sweater giveaway

Microsoft's "softwear" announcement wasn't what we had hoped for. Thursday's announcement was not the new line of wearable tech or SkiFree monster sweater we wished for. But it did deliver the 90s nostalgia we wanted.
Home Theater

Confused about LED vs. LCD TVs? Here's everything you need to know

Our LED vs. LCD TV buying guide explains why these two common types of displays are fundamentally connected, how they differ, what to look for in buying an LED TV, and what's on the horizon for TVs.
Deals

The best MacBook deals for December 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Computing

How to connect AirPods to your MacBook

If you have new AirPods, you may be looking forward to pairing them with your MacBook. Our guide will show you exactly how to connect AirPods to MacBook, what to do if they are already paired with a device, and more.