Science & Tech

Harvard Law School researchers track China’s Web filtering policies

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Research project can see what sites government is blocking

“We’re hoping to make clear what’s blocked and what’s not—something only previously understood piecemeal,” said Professor Jonathan Zittrain, faculty co-director of the Berkman Center. “With the right data, we can come to an understanding of how that list of sites evolves over time — how much attention is paid to maintaining the list, how readily blocked sites relocate to unblocked locations, and how much the list of blocked sites might be said to track changing government foreign and domestic policies. For example, does the state of relations between the mainland and Taiwan affect the degree of blocking of Taiwan-oriented sites?”
“In traditional censorship efforts, the state must tell its citizens and its staff what content is prohibited,” said Ben Edelman, a first-year law student conducting the research with Zittrain. “But in China, the contents of the block list to date remains more or less secret.”