Rebecca MacKinnon on China’s Typepad ban

She’s mad as hell (her blog is on Typepad) and she’s not going to take it anymore. She puts a lot of the blame on Cisco and other companies that facilitate the censorship, but she acknowledges it’s an extremely complex issue.

The Chinese government is mainly to blame for this, but it’s important to consider the way in which U.S. technology is being used to stifle free speech in China – and the extent to which U.S. companies are responsible for this usage. This includes not only Microsoft, but also Cisco Systems and others.

….Cisco denies direct complicity. There is also an argument to be made that the existence of Cisco routers in China on the whole has done more to facilitate free speech than to stifle it.

It’s a complicated issue. We need greater scrutiny of U.S. tech companies in China by bloggers, journalists, human rights activists, and anybody who cares about free speech and corporate accountability. We need more information about what these companies actually know when they are selling their products and services. To what extent are they actively providing service and support for uses that are clearly aimed to stifle free speech?

She recommends we write our congressmen, but I somehow suspect they couldn’t care less. Some good comments follow Rebecca’s post.

The Discussion: 11 Comments

Am writing my Congressmen now.

June 22, 2005 @ 3:11 pm | Comment

the day they block blog city is the day I bite the bullet and set up my own site.

June 22, 2005 @ 4:23 pm | Comment

Let’s hope they never decide to block our individual sites.

Why on earth do they bother? What did typepad do this week that it didn’t do last week that moved the Nanny to action? How stupid.

June 22, 2005 @ 4:31 pm | Comment

maybe it’s just because it’s well-known. That’s the only logic I can think of behind blocking blogger. It’s popular and a lot of people use it.

June 22, 2005 @ 5:22 pm | Comment

And I still don’t understand why she blames Cisco.

Does she want Cisco to develop a special version of IOS just for selling to China? Who pays for the expense? And if Cisco does this, then China will happily buy from another networking hardware manufacturer {Nortel, Juniper, etc.}.

And if all the networking hardware companies boycott China, I could build them a Great Firewall out of free software and off-the-shelf PCs. Check out the O’Reilly book on Building Linux or OpenBSD Firewalls from the local library and away you go.

The problem is who owns/has access to all of the communications lines going out of China or the interconnect points for internal China traffic. As long as this is all state-owned and operated, the traffic can be strictly controlled.

June 22, 2005 @ 6:48 pm | Comment

I shot off emails to both of my state Senators (Richard Lugar, Evan Bayh) addressing this issue and I followed that up with copies to my State and local newspapers for publication in their editorial sections.

Our Representatives can ignore the emails, but there’s no delete key for the newsaper.

June 22, 2005 @ 10:42 pm | Comment

They may not JUST be blocking big hosting providers. For some reason I can’t write to my own blog today, nor get into the back office. Could just be a local glitch, and I write VERY mildly about China, but yesterday I linked to some of the naughty boys.

I’m hosted in an unknown outfit in the Netherlands!

June 23, 2005 @ 1:40 am | Comment

richard – you have minions.

June 23, 2005 @ 6:23 am | Comment

I was on MSN Spaces and was deeply offended by the blocks when I ever typed words like “democracy” and “freedom.” After that I quitted MSN Spaces for good and go for blogger. If blogger is next, I’ll be damned and will have to set up my own site.

The Chinese constitution has plenty of words like “freedom” and “democracy.” Maybe Beijing should block its own constitution as well. How stupid.

June 24, 2005 @ 11:16 am | Comment

I am afraid blogger ( is already totally blocked in China.

June 24, 2005 @ 11:20 am | Comment

maybe it’s just because it’s well-known. That’s the only logic I can think of behind blocking blogger. It’s popular and a lot of people use it.

January 25, 2006 @ 10:50 am | Comment

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