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Climbing over the great firewall of Chinese censorship

Guest Commentary

Oliver Linow, Technical Distribution at DW

Censorship is not the same everywhere you go. Circumvention solutions that work in one place may be completely ineffective elsewhere. It takes constant, often local, innovation to keep up with the forces that prevent people from accessing information. It is a constant struggle with one side driving the other forward.

While DW has seen success in overcoming censors  with circumvention technology like Psiphon in Iran, these types of solutions have been less successful in China.

When you look at China, you might conjure up images of millions of potential Internet users who are just waiting to have access to censored websites like Facebook and YouTube. But that’s not 100 percent true. There is an enormous range of alternatives that are tailored to the Chinese market, uncensored. And a large portion of the population is satisfied with what the “Chinese” Internet offers – and that includes news websites. However, there are still people out there who are longing for access to unfiltered information – and that’s where these circumvention solutions come in.

The secret to overcoming perhaps the world’s most virulent censorship regime is a technique called collateral freedom, which is being implemented by the China-based organization Greatfire. The technique works by leveraging global cloud infrastructure and having a website use the same cloud-based domain as a website that is deemed indispensable by the authorities. For example, by using the same Microsoft Azure cloud servers as major Chinese companies, if you block one, you have to block them all, and that means political trouble in an age of Internet-driven economic growth.

It’s extremely important to us to create an easy way to access the DW website, despite the censoring of content. It shouldn’t be necessary to install special programs or applications on your computer or smartphone. With Greatfire, we have found an easy solution. Even though it requires users to enter a slightly-modified URL than is used elsewhere around the world, it ensures a completely “normal” way to access information and content with a familiar tool: The Internet and a web browser.



2015-01-20 | 10:31



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Market roundup: July 2014

South America

News and information from DW Portuguese for Brazil is now being featured on UOL (Universo Online SA), Brazil’s largest online portal and the world’s largest Portuguese-language news and information platform. After a recent cooperation agreement, UOL will now include a full-text DW feed on the website. The cooperation has the potential to greatly increase DW’s online audience – UOL boasts 29,8 million unique visitors and 4,2 billion page views every month along with 4.1 million Facebook fans.


DW news content in six languages for Africa will soon be able to reach a potential 900,000 users via BiNu– an application that allows low-tech or “feature phones” to have quick and easy access to the Internet. Target regions include Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, and especially, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.


CTH, the Thai television provider and DW broadcasting partner, has increased its range of service and is now broadcasting via the Vinasat 2 satellite. The expansion will deliver CTH’s international programming package, which includes the English-language channel, DW, to 10,000 additional subscribers along with the millions of current cable subscribers. CTH is also planning to start a DVB-T service later this year which could reach a potential of one million new customers.  DW has been carried on CTH’s digital cable network since July 2013.

The Vietnamese cable provider, HCA TV, is once again broadcasting DW after an extended interruption in service. DW programming will be rebroadcast on the provider with Vietnamese subtitles.

The Taiwanese online news and information portal, Commonwealth, will now be including full-text DW content in Chinese. It is the first such cooperation outside of mainland China and will include reports from business, the environment, sports and education.


T24, the Turkish online news portal, is a new DW partner and will now be prominently placing full-text Turkish language articles from DW on the website. T24 is renowned for independent and quality journalism in an increasingly draconian Turkish media landscape, having won an award from the Turkish Journalists Society in 2010.  It is one of the most-quoted online sources in Turkish media and features content from more than 30 prominent authors and journalists.


DW is now on Instagram with Inside DW, a new part of DW’s customer service website, MyDW, which features a look behind the scenes at the work of DW’s journalists, producers and correspondents.


2014-07-07 | 1:07



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