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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 2013

After a successful pilot phase, DW will continue working with Psiphon Inc. to reroute content to users living in countries where Internet censorship remains a major problem. Users only need to download the required software and then access the content via a proxy server, a Windows application or an app for mobile devices. The service was heavily used during the latest presidential race in Iran and ensures that DW can deliver reliable information to users worldwide.

DW has improved the quality of the live streams (Flash) for each of its television feeds was improved to offer users a better viewing experience. The new resolution (1024×576 pixels, 1.5 MBit/s) can be accessed by clicking the SHQ icon in the DW live player or at

Middle East
DW now has a new online partner in the Middle East: Alhewar. The website focuses on politics and culture and is especially popular among Arabic authors. Alhewar has also proven to be a real social media expert, with more than 1 million Facebook fans.

DW has signed a new partnership with the only Arabic television broadcaster in Israel. DW will provide Hala TV with award-winning content like Euromaxx, as well as other TV programming including Drive it! and Made in Germany. Hala TV is available via satellite.

DW’s expert commentary on life and style in Europe – Euromaxx – celebrated its 10th anniversary last week. The award-winning show is broadcast daily and covers everything from art and architecture to the latest fashions and trends.


2013-07-01 | 11:56



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