Great Firewall now blocks Tor proxies: bye-bye Facebook 3

JISHOU, HUNAN — It was bound to happen someday. I am now completely shut off from Facebook. So if you want to communicate with me, either use my blog here, IM me or send me an email. China started blocking Facebook (and other sites) about a year after I arrived. Until recently, I had been able to use the Tor proxy network to “climb the firewall” and access Facebook. China’s net nannies had been blocking the IP addresses of public Tor connections, but I was able to get private bridge IPs by email. Now even the private bridge connections don’t work. My Tor’s log reports “problem bootstrapping. Stuck at 5%” and there it stays. Apparently, China’s censors have found a way to render the Tor proxy network ineffective, thereby shutting us netizens in China out of the wider WorldWide Web. Internet restrictions here typically get more severe as we approach significant anniversaries, such the Tiananmen Square protests by university students on June 5, 1989. In fact, I just discovered that just trying to visit sites (wikipedia, bbc.co.uk, etc.) that discuss the events is useless. It seems those are being blocked, too. Sigh. Perhaps the blocks will be removed after the ...

China adds another layer of bricks to the Great Firewall 4

JISHOU, HUNAN — With the National Holiday fast upon us, China’s net nannies have blocked yet another Internet service, the Tor proxy network, which had been pretty reliable until quite recently. China typically blocks access to the World Wide Web around important national holidays, such the 60th anniversary of the founding the People’s Republic of China next Thursday. With so many sites blocked already (YouTube, Facebook, Blogspot, to name but a few), I guess the censors decided the surest way to cut off potentially inflammatory websites was to choke the Tor network off. Of course, there are ways around the newest layer of bricks in the Great Firewall of China. I noticed something was fishy when I tried to connect to Facebook using Tor. My Tor client couldn’t complete the connection to the network. My little onion stayed yellow, and never went to green. Tor uses a decentralized network of proxies scattered around the world. The Tor client checks a list of active proxies (computers acting as go-betweens), then logs into the network using one or more of the proxies. An add-on to Firefox then switches Firefox over to use the proxy to access the WWW. An active Tor connection ...
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