China reinforces its 'Great Firewall'

The Chinese government has been rebuilding the country's Internet filter to make access to websites, including social media, and virtual private networks far more difficult.

The Chinese government has built a stronger censorship wall that's more difficult to scale or circumvent than ever before.

A recent upgrade to the country's Internet filtering system -- known colloquially as the "Great Firewall of China" -- has made Internet filtering stricter and tougher to circumvent, providing Chinese officials with more scope to block unwanted material and services, according to The Wall Street Journal

The upgraded firewall will make the lives of many Chinese citizens more difficult, as accessing blocked websites -- including Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube -- as well as a variety of email services including Gmail will be much trickier now. Such services not only offer a way to keep in contact with friends and family outside of the country, but they also provide key communication outlets for international businesses operating within China.

The Great Firewall has been used to block access to any material critical of the Chinese government and to control what information can be found via the Internet.

Chinese officials have also begun tackling the ways that individuals circumvent the firewall -- such as by the use of virtual private networks (VPNs). As reported by The New York Times, Astrill, a popular VPN that many Chinese citizens use to access websites including Facebook and Flickr, is one such target.

A senior official confirmed disruption of Astrill's services, among others, and promised that more of the same is coming.

Stringent Internet regulations are not the only concern of individuals and businesses. Earlier this week, the Chinese government introduced new regulations for international businesses seeking to operate in the country. Outlined in a 22-page document, the new rules require technology firms to turn over source code, submit to audits and build back doors in both hardware and software.

This story originally posted as "China revamps Great Firewall, cracks down on social media" on ZDNet.

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