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Misc Politics

Practical Experience with Internet Censorship

As stated before I am a german computer scientist living in China at the moment. Therefore I am especially ashamed about the current ruling parties in germany who just agreed to establish internet censorship against all expert knowledge brought into the discussion and against a huge part of the internet citizens which stood up against this bill and filed an e-petition with the biggest attendance ever for a german e-petition.

I would like to invite the german politicians to come to China to practically see how internet censorship is working. They can go to the chinese government if they want to see what it costs to maintain the Chinese Firewall and then they can come to me when they want to see how much it costs to dig a hole into it because that’s my daily business. As collateral damage of the aggressive censorship many pure development sites which I need for my programming are blocked, like jruby.org, …

I have a proxy Addon installed in my Firefox and it takes me exactly 2 seconds to view the blocked site through the proxy. Every now and then I have to search for a new proxy because the government found and blocked the one I am using but there are so many proxy lists in the internet that you can easily google for them, test for 2 minutes and have a new running proxy.

From my side it is annoying to see so many programming blogs and websites blocked but the total additional costs in a month may come up to be around 1 hour.

What does your internet censorship cost during a month? Can you really tell your electors that they have to pay millions of Euros every month for an infrastructure which can be bypassed within seconds and they will reelect you? Specially in times of a global financial crisis ???

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Misc Politics

Serious Security Holes in Green Dam Software discovered

The University of Michigan has analysed the Green Dam – Youth Escort Software which will be istalled on every chinese Computer due to an policy from the Chinese Government.

It is very doubtful that this is in the intentions of the Chinese Government to expose chinese computers security in this way. This can happen only because of the secrecy in which such projects are accomplished in China where no additional control from independant organisations is possible.

If you read the article of the University of Michigan carefully you have to stumble over the following:


We examined the Green Dam software and found that it contains serious security vulnerabilities due to programming errors.

Green Dam makes frequent use of unsafe and outdated programming practices that likely introduce numerous other vulnerabilities.

In my eyes this shows one of the pricipal problems in the chinese software industry. The newest and most up-to-date programming information nowadays is communicated in blogs and wiki’s and spread by services like twitter and RSS Feeds. But these are the most controlled and blocked services and websites in China. For me as computer scientist it is an unsustainable situation when you want to do programming work in China and have to fight for each bit of up-to-date information because programming blogs and websites are blocked and you always have to find a way around to get to the important content. There must be a measurable collateral damage in the software industry in China from this blocking politics.

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Misc Politics

The Green Dam – Youth Escort

As you can read on Rebecca MacKinnon’s blog the chinese Government published a new directive according to which all PC’s sold in China have to come with the pre-installed internet filtering software “Green Dam – Youth Escort” from Jinhui Corp.. The original document can be downloaded at here.

Whereas the Chinese Government insists that the software is only for blocking porn web content and first tests seemed to confirm this statement, detailed analysis uncovered that the Green Dam software also blocks dangerous political content. Additionally it seems that the software sends reports back to Jinhui Corp. which leaves the question open that if the software’s intention is only to secure the youth from unintentional surfing to porn websites, why do they need to send reports about this back to the government? Do they really want to criminalize youth which wants to see sexual content? Or is the intention more to control who wants to inform himself about dangerous political content?

When you listen to our politician all they do seem to be for our best. Why does it always turn out that what they say is completely different from what they intend to do which you find out once you make a detailed analysis about what they are really doing?

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Misc Politics

How China clears his past

Today, twenty years ago a big massacre took place on the Tiananmen place in Beijing to suppress a student riot which was held against corruption in China and for more democratic rights.

Tiananmen Place

The way the chinese government deals with this special day is that since more than a week they block internet communication like blogs, Twitter, YouTube or even Flickr. I believe that if they could, they would erase this date from the calendar. In many countries you can find articles in the newspapers in memory of this day. I the chinese news like CCTV or Xinhua … not a single word.

Even though I think that many of the chinese politicians nowadays think by themselves that the reaction of the government has been too extreme and the massacre should have been avoided, the chinese government has that much fear that things might run out of control that they block everything, from dissidents who have to stay in their homes to the place and the streets around it and finally the internet where we could discuss this event.

In my eyes this shows a very low self-esteem of chinese politicians about their actual politics. Where does this come from? Perhaps they should have done more against the corruption during the last 20 years, which is still a big problem in China today? Or they should have worked harder on a better social system? Perhaps they should simply have more confidence in their people.

I think, at least they should stop to deny Chinas past in the fear that they might loose their faces or that things are leaping out of control.

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Misc Politics

Uprising of the Internt Citizens in Germany

During the last weeks it could be seen that the rift between the “internet generation” which grew up with computers, internet and mobile communication and the elder generation which rules the country and tries to control these modern communication facilities to death, even when they violate the democratic basic law as colateral damage, is much deeper than expected.

Statements of politicians which reveal their lack of technical understanding like the one of the minister of justice Zypries: “Browser? What is still a browser?” or that the minister for economic affairs von Guttenberg in an TV interview declared the over 100.000 signers of a petition against internet filtering as near child abusers, shows clearly the ignorance of the politicians in Germany towards about 20% of the german population (by rule of thumb from the article Die Generation C64 schlägt zurück).

I want to express my kudos to the internet community in Germany which, in contrast to the german politicians, discussed the situation based on facts (and didn’t invent them!), realized that the internet filtering in the form the politicians requested is absolutely against the german basic laws and stood up and started a democratic process to fight this plan to establish uncontrolled internet filtering even in the danger to be moved close to criminals by the politicians who want to defend this bill.

There is no place for internet agnostic politicians in the modern world any more. This could be seen in the election of Barak Obama in the USA and this should be learned from the fast organisation of opposition against this bill as well. The young generation is uprising, claims its democratic rights and is ready to stand for these rights also for the internet.

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Misc Politics

Demagogy in Germany

In Germany the bill to establish internet filtering against child pornography has started a big dispute between politicians and several organisations and a huge part of internet users.

As could be expected an emotional highly charded issue like child pornography was the right vehicle to suppress an unemotional democratic discussion about internet filtering when drawn into the same context. As a result the media is full of demagogic statements from involved politicians which act already with one eye onto the upcoming elections in september this year as can be read on netzpolitik.org.

As demagogy has a long history in Germany I wanted to add two quotes from one of the internationally most recognized experts in this domain:

“It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion.”

Dr. Joseph Göbbels, Minister of propaganda for the German Third Reich

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political,
economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

Dr. Joseph Göbbels, Minister of propaganda for the German Third Reich

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Misc Politics

Internet Barrier marks first innocent Victim

In France the Internet Barrier has marked its first innocent victim.

As can be read at golem.de in France the Webdesigner Jérôme Bourreau-Guggenheim lost his job at TF1 on of the biggest french TV enterprises after he privately criticised the bill for internet barriers (Loi HADOPI).

Mid of February he sent a private mail to his elected representative Françoise de Panafieu who forwarded the mail to the administration which is in charge of the HADOPI bill. Two month later he was called into the office of his boss who read his mail word by word in front of him and opened him that he was fired.

At the same time in Germany a Petition against the Internet Barrier bill is open for signature and was attended by nearly 70.000 signers within the first of three weeks. The comment of one politician was:

We know that there are about 200.000 pedophiles in Germany. This petition cannot stop our law.

At the same time the second reading of the bill in the Bundestag took place in a nearly empty plenum.

Let me ask only one question:

What has all this still to do with Democracy ?

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Misc Politics

Customer Protection made in Europe

In Europe an EU directive has to be implemented in all member countries as law according to the subsidiarity principle of the European Union. Unfortunately the work of the European Parliament often doesn’t make it into the news so that the public is involved early enough to be able to take part in the discussion of interesting matters.

This interesting part of the democratic process in Europe should be discussed separately one day. At the moment, as I just read on Spiegel Online, they are reworking article 5 of the directive for privacy and electronic communication. The idea is to implement a mandatory procedure of agreement for the storage of each cookie which a website wants to store on your computer.

On the positive side the idea to protect the internet user from being tracked by services like Phorm against its will is a good intention! But in the ideas for a technical solution of this problem the politicians again show their lack of technical understanding. The idea to pop up a windows with the terms and conditions you have to agree to, so that the website is allowed to store a cookie on your computer, will lead to the situation that most users will allow all cookies in general to be stored instead of sensibilizing the user to the problematic that their surfing behaviour can be tracked by missuse of cookies.

The problem is a very delicate one because on one hand the user wants the service which is provided by the use of cookies like that he is remembered by websites, be it for a login into a forum or a personalized advertisment when surfing on amazon. On the other hand no user will agree to work on several Pop-Ups for each page he is visiting.

What I don’t understand is that politicians increasingly search for technical solutions for legal problems. My discomfort is that within this process there seem to be no technical skilled professionals involved. Therefore these decisions may lead to more damage then good. And please keep in mind that legal problems cannot be solved with technical measures.

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Misc Politics

Mrs. Aigner, it seems I misunderstood your intentions!

Two weeks ago in my article What is “green” in Green Gene Technology I still praised the decision from germanys Minister of Agriculture, Mrs. Ilse Aigner, for her change of opinion which lead to the ban of the genetically altered Monsanto MON 810 corn. Now I have to read in Spiegel Online’s article CSU-Ministerin Aigner düpiert Seehofer that she allowed BASF, a german company, to sow the genetically altered potato Amflora.

It seem that I missunderstood Mrs. Aigners intentions thoroughly! Instead of getting her act together towards a natural agriculture which is able to supply us and our children with healthy food also in the future it seems that it is all only about politics and money, as always!

Mrs. Aigner, is this your contribution to the german economy in times of the crisis or is it already part of your election campaign for the upcoming election in Germany or are there other economic reasons which lead to this decision?

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Misc Politics

What Germany should have learned from the 60’s !

The 60’s of the last century have been a time of breakup in Germany and many other countries in the world. Young people didn’t agree any more with the moral and political ideas of the elder generation and cried for radical changes in the society.

In my eyes this was only natural regarding that they were born after the second world war in a fast changing time with nearly overwhelming progress in natural but also social sciences which has left them with the feeling that their parent generation was left far behind in its understanding of the new generation, which has perhaps in fact been so.

In this time in germany the young political activists gathered together in the APO (Außerparlamentarische Opposition) a political opposition apart from the normal circus of political parties, elections and government because they had the feeling that not a single of the existing parties represented their political positions. The reaction of the establishment was high pressure and control of the activists by police forces and other measures. This extreme course of action from the authorities split the APO and the sympathisers in their surrounding into two parts. The majority could be silenced and later found themselves in other activities and finally a political home in the Green Party but a minority was driven into the political underground which established the base for the RAF (Rote Armee Fraktion) a terror organisation which threw her dark shadow over Germany from the 70’s up into the 90’s.

When I read the articles about the new laws for control and law enforcement in Germany which are against all democratic and federalistic rules as you can read in the latest articles on netzpolitik.org (Warum wir dem BKA nicht vertrauen können und was das mit dem Föderalismus zu tun hat) which describes why the BKA laws are against the german federal constitution and from Jens Scholz Warum es um Zensur geht which analyses why the new anti child pornography law is not established to fight against child pornography, as it is not the right instrument for this goal anyway, but only to establish a control infrastructure in the german part of the internet, I have to ask myself:

Is there not a single politician in Germany who has learned anything from the german History?

Before you go and start to criminalise our youth which grew up with technology as internet, handy, copies of music and films in original quality … only because you don’t understand them and get yourself heared by them, you should be exchanged by a younger generation of politicians as fast as possible! You cannot put everyone in germany under suspect of crime without thinking that this will not have far reaching consequences for our future.