Monday, February 09, 2015

masking the blog

I feel like Zorro.

Two laptops ago, I purchased a virtual private network (VPN) for my computer.  VPNs are all the rage amongst certain sets on the internet hghway.

For libertarians and clinical paranoids, a VPN is the first step in trying to mask one's identity in the Pyrrhic pursuit of electronic privacy.  For twenty-somethings, it is away to digitally steal copyrighted material without leaving fingerprints on the wheel of the getaway car.  It is no coincidence that "pirate" lurks within the second word in its title.

Well, it is about time for me to sign up for another tour of duty on the pirate ship.  And like everyone else who uses these services, I have my own justfication for being a law breaker.  In my case, I am heading off to Red China for four days. 

Three years ago, I visited Red China.  Even though I had heard that the Chinese authorities prohibited access to blogs within its boundaries, I was surprised to discover I could not even look at Mexpatriate -- even in the 5-star business hotels where we were housed.

I am returning to Red China at the end of April.  (Or, I hope I am.  Writing stuff like this probably does not enhance my odds of the Chinese approving my entry visa.  We shall see.)

With my new VPN, I thought I might be able to post a few essays for the four days I will be in Shanghai -- a city I really enjoyed on my last trip.  At least, I thought that until I read Plugging the Holes in this week's Economist.

Apparently, the Chinese authorities have sniffed out the VPN pirates, and are no longer tolerating the exchange of information on VPN-accessed blogs.  I may use "pirate" facetiously.  The Chinese government does not. 

The authorities have taken the position that offering unregistered VPN services in China is illegal.  Even if the VPN company is not stationed in China, and is offering services legally in its home country.

I am not a fan of censorship.  But, while I am in China, I intend to avoid using VPN services.  I will wait until I leave China before writing any essays.  Just as I did three years ago.

The article in The Economist did remind me on one positive consequence of the Chinese policy.  Facebook is not available there. 

A broken clock can be correct two times a day.

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