The SAGE Encyclopedia of the Internet (Barney Warf eds., SAGE, 2018)
5 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2018 Last revised: 23 Sep 2019
Date Written: June 7, 2018
The term “Great Firewall” was coined to describe the massive and sophisticated Internet-filtering system used in China, which blocks the populace from viewing online content hosted in other countries that is deemed to be harmful to the nation. Anything that falls into this category of foreign online content is automatically and instantaneously filtered out by the Great Firewall without the need for review or the possibility of redress. In addition to highly restrictive domestic Internet regulations and a high number of Internet police, the Great Firewall has become an integral part of the Chinese government’s oversight of information flow as well as a major pillar of China’s Internet censorship and surveillance mechanism. It is widely believed that the Great Firewall forms part of China’s official “Golden Shield” project, which involves, among other measures, deploying a gigantic digital surveillance network through filtering techniques, the regulation of Internet service providers (ISPs), web cameras, and censorship software installed on personal computers available in Internet cafes. Unsurprisingly, the Great Firewall has raised serious legal concerns related to Internet sovereignty, free speech, Internet access rights, corporate social responsibility, ISPs’ liability, and trade barriers. This entry examines the firewall’s origins, structure, and attempts to circumvent it.
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