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China: Threatened by American Internet censorship

Just days after American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s speech on Internet freedom, open source source code repository SourceForge.net blocked access to IP addresses originating in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

SourceForge justifies the move saying they are only following American law. Which is more or less the same argument Chinese government spokespeople make when questioned about their country's Internet censorship.

SourceForge has been blocked by China before. Hearing word of this new Great Firewall of America left some Chinese coders wondering if they might now start getting blocked from the other end and what can be done about it.

sourceforgeblock

Photo from William Lone's Moonlight Blog.

At CNBeta on the day the news broke, ugmbbc wrote:

在今天,开源精神遭到了践踏,SourceForge会因为他们被要求屏蔽流氓国家而去美国国会抗议么?

这是个棘手的问题,难道仅仅因为这几个国家的极少数的一部分人的极端行为,就要整个国家遭到惩罚么?开源软件为这些受到压迫和发展中的国家提供了重要的基础设施。希望美国政府能够看到对这些国家基础设施和羽翼未丰的产业带来的打击。

Open source culture got trampled today. Having been required to blocked these rogue nations, will SourceForge go protest to the American Congress?

It's a tricky situation, but does an entire country have to be punished just because of the extreme actions of a tiny minority of the people in these countries? Open source software provides important infrastructure to these oppressed and developing nations. I hope the American government can see what a blow this is to the infrastructure and fledgling industries in these countries.

Over at geek community Solidot, free-as-in-freedom notes that this move by SourceForge follows earlier restrictions on users from these five countries, allowing them to browse the site and download source code, but barring them from contributing any. Comments there include:

Alpha.Roc:
SourceForge 还是要遵守美国法律的呀?

SourceForge has to abide by American laws!

alvan:
SourceForge为什么一定要遵从自由软件精神?软件只是代码,所以可以自由中立;但是网站是离不开服务器的,你的服务器放在哪个国家,就要遵从这个国家的法律——这个天经地义呀。

Why should SourceForge stay true to open source culture? Software is just code, which makes it both free and neutral; but websites can't escape the servers which host them, and you have to obey the laws of whichever country your server is situated in, that's just how it goes.

pynets:
这是人家的自由

It is their freedom

erlv at his technical blog LingCC looks at the implications of politics encroaching upon the open source movement:

每个喜欢互联网技术,拥护开源的人都不想让开源沦为政治工具,但这是一个政治主导的世界,你得听政府的,政府是老大,你在政府的地盘上混,管你什么道义,什么自由,什么开源,统统只是工具。

我不是在鼓吹网络长城多么利国利民,但我们确实需要一种手段,让我们与国外能自由交流的同时,能摆脱对他们的依赖。正如现在国内,开源爱好者们都很乐于将自己的代码贡献出来,给开源社区,但当它变成政治工具的时候,我们如何取得该属于我们的权利?

SourceForge.net好像在国内还没有官方的镜像服务器. 如果我们的官老爷们真的为我国的信息产业处心积虑,鞠躬尽瘁的话,倒不如拿支持防火长城项目1%的钱,作为政府鼎力支持,在国内建几个开源镜像服务器,这样,至少我们还能有所有的源码,至少我们有了独立自主!

Nobody who's a fan of technology or supports open source wants to see open source become a political tool, but then this is a world ruled by politics; you can say all you want about principles, freedom or open source, but when you're on the government's turf, the government calls the shots, so you better listen: those are just tools.

I'm not saying the GFW is good for the country or the people, rather that we need to take some steps to ensure that at the same time we're able to freely communicate with those overseas, we can stop having to rely on them. Here now in the mainland, for instance, all open source fans are happy to contribute their code with the rest of the open source community. But when that becomes a political tool, how are we supposed to obtain those rights that belong to us?

I don't think SourceForge has any mirror servers in China. If those in charge really wanted to scheme on behalf of our country's information industries and were willing to do what it takes, it wouldn't hurt for them to take 1% of the money they spend on the GFW, as sincere support from the government, and set up a few mirror servers inside the country. At least this way, we'd still have all our own code. At least we'd still have our own independence!

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