From Beijing with Love: The Internet Firewall in Southeast Asia

The China’s Great Firewall is known to be the most sophisticated censorship system in the world. It is the Chinese government’s tool for controlling information in China ensuring that Chinese citizens see only information the government wants them to see. The ability to manipulate advantages the Chinese government on many levels.

Several recent news reports allege that China is helping the Myanmar military to impose a China-style internet firewall following a coup on February 1, 2021. In Cambodia, the government passed a law imposing a Chinese-style’s internet gateway on February 16, 2021. These two events alarmed human rights advocates and create concerns about how internet controls are unfolding in Southeast Asia.

The implementation of the firewall can result in people not being able to access to certain information. Website blockages have been practiced in Myanmar and Cambodia. In Myanmar, the situation escalated dramatically following the coup. Social media, foreign and independent news outlets as well as Wikipedia have been blocked. Facebook accessibility is intermittent.

In order for individuals at risk to understand more about the Chinese technology regarding the internet firewall and the circumvention, we expect to learn more about how the Great Firewall works, how the censorship is likely to occur if Cambodia and Myanmar adopt systems similar to China’s, and what human rights defenders and those at risk can prepare and respond to the situation.

Speakers

Hoàng Nguyên Phong

Open Technology Fund (OTF)

Phong is a PhD candidate at the State University of New York and an Information Controls Fellow at Open Technology Fund. His research interests encompass online privacy, anonymity, and Internet measurement. Phong currently works with the Citizen Lab at University of Toronto to investigate the Great Firewall (GFW) with a focus on its abusive design of abusing IP addresses of non-Chinese entities in forged DNS responses. Throughout this project, Phong will build a dashboard that is expected to provide useful data for other researchers and insights about censored domains as well as the forged IP addresses being abused. Ultimately, these findings are expected to be able to assist in the development of potential solutions to bypass and reduce the impact of the GFW’s DNS-based blocking.

Simone Basso

Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI)

Simone currently works at OONI, a free software project that measures internet censorship worldwide. He started contributing to OONI in 2014 and joined the core team in 2019. At OONI, he currently maintains the network-measurement engine and leads network-measurement research. Simone was an Information Controls Fellow at Open Technology Fund in 2018. In this capacity, he worked with his host organization, Measurement Lab, to implement the next-generation Network Diagnostic Tool (NDT) network performance test run by millions of users every day. Between 2010 and 2017, Simone was a doctoral and post-doctoral researcher at the Nexa Center for Internet & Society. There, he studied network-performance measurements and developed the Neubot network-measurement tool.

Keith McManamen

Psiphon

Keith is a Strategic Analyst at Psiphon. He monitors trends in censorship circumvention and network dynamics within the social and political context of information controls in affected regions. Psiphon is a circumvention tool from Psiphon Inc. that utilizes VPN, SSH and HTTP Proxy technology to provide users with uncensored access to Internet content. It began at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab in 2006. Since 2006, Psiphon has helped millions of people in freedom-restricted countries around the world safely access censored knowledge and ideas.

Moderator

Ploy Chanprasert

Founder, DigitalReach

Date & Time

March 17, 2021
(Wednesday)

7.30 – 9.00 pm
Yangon (GMT +6.30)

8.00 – 9.30 pm
Bangkok, Jakarta, Phnom Penh, Hanoi (GMT +7)

9.00 – 10.30 pm
Singapore, Manila, Kuala Lumpur (GMT +8)

Agenda

TimeDetails
8.00 – 8.10
(10 mins)
Introduction
8.10 – 9.00
(60 mins)

Discussion

Getting to know to the Great Firewall of China (10 mins)

The current situations of censorship in Myanmar and Cambodia* (10 mins)

*This is expected to be raised by the participants from Myanmar and Cambodia.

Introduction to OONI and OONI data (10 mins)

Introduction to Psiphon and how it can circumvent the censorship (10 mins)

[Open Discussion] The concerns regarding the China-style Internet Firewall** (20 mins)

**The participants are welcome to raise their concerns during the discussion, and the speakers will respond to the concerns.

9.00 – 9.30
(20 mins)
Q&A