What would you do if you were forced to comply to the “real name registration” in order to access the Internet? And if every word that you said online would be monitored by the government? When there is no way for you to protect your privacy, probably you would also decide to go “totally naked” online. Zhang Lifan's “Confession of an Internet naked runner” is written in a sarcastic voice describing the frustration of Chinese netizens. Although he is willing to go naked, his post cannot be published in his own blog. The article is republished at canyu.org and below is my translation.
As a Chinese netizen with over 12-year online experience, here I declare to give up my online privacy. This is an aftermath recognition of the reality.
In theory, citizen is the master of the country and should enjoy the rights to protect one's privacy as well as the rights to monitor our government officials regarding their duties and spendings. Instead, as a mature adult, I have been monitored and protected like a child. Since I went online in 1997, I set up different online accounts with different passwords in order to protect my privacy. I learned how to jump over the GFW and access Twitter so that I could know more about the world. However, the technology for getting around censorship is getting more and more sophisticated and I have to admit that I am getting old. I can't take care of the so-called “rights” anymore.
In 2005, I gave up my anonymous status and chose to go online with my real name. I have given up my privacy. Concerned netizens (including those hired by the government) had different opinions, some supported, some opposed and launched attack on others’ choices. Although I use my real name, I have been protecting others’ rights in anonymity as it concerns with citizen's rights in free speech. However, I soon discover that I am too old fashioned. The Internet monitoring system can detect private details of anonymous newbies like a piece of cake. All online interaction, communication, love talks or dirty jokes become visible and they can trace every single message back to the original sender. The Internet is a net to catch people. The so-called anonymity is a self-comforting imagination. The main purpose of online “real name registration” is to produce fear among users for their speech and expression. The construction of “Big Brother Net” by using the taxpayers’ money to monitor the taxpayers is an unique Chinese characteristic.
中國的牆文化與翻牆文化 Chinese wall culture and the culture of getting over the wall
Our country has very long tradition of “Wall Culture”. Not a single nationality in this world is as enthusiastic as Chinese people in the construction of walls. Since Qin Shi Huang's Great Wall to Ming Dynasty's Coastal Wall, the country has been keeping itself away from the outside world. Don't lecture me with Zhang Qian's Western Journey or Cheng He's Sea Journey to the West, all these trips were sent by the court to “promote the image of a strong country and educate the barbarians”. Their nature are similar to the Olympic Torch Relay and the Confucian Colleges nowadays. Of course, we also has a tradition in “getting over the wall”, such as The Western Journey by Monk Xuanzang of the Tang Dynasty. He had to get through a number of gates and obstacles in order to accomplish his mission. The spreading of Marxism in Modern China has also gone through a period of “getting over the wall”. The economic reform in China has 30 years of history and the Berlin Wall had been pulled down for 20 years. China is still under the cycle of the damned “Wall”.
Terms like “stealing veg” and “over the wall” tell us the fact that taboo always induces pleasure and excitement. The same case happens to getting access to online pornography. One of the greatest deed in our reform is the liberation of our body. While government officials can openly prostitute, buy second wives and use public spendings to visit red night district in foreign countries, netizens’ most humble pleasure is getting access to pornographic websites. The excitement of netizens “getting over the wall” in thrilling slow speed can never be compared with the 4,000 corrupted government officials, each on average had smuggled away 0.1 billion away from the country. “Food and sex are human nature”, the whole world know how man and woman differ. The excuse of “protecting the youth” sounds very legitimated. Children's curiosity come from their nature and sex education should be started from very young age. Every commercial browser have filtering mechanism designed for parent control. The huge public expense on “Green Dam” has political as well as economic considerations.
The Chinese style Big Brother “anti-pronography” campaign depends on the filtering out of “sensitive terms” by the Great Fire Wall. Whenever I post article online, the system keeps reminding me of the existence of “sensitive terms in the message”, but it never tells me which are the “sensitive terms” and you have to keep testing. I have once urged some websites to post in public the list of “sensitive terms” for saving everyone's time, but there isn't any response so far. Two years ago, I sorted out a list of sensitive terms from a software tool, and it really surprised me. Among the 1010 terms, about one third of them is sex related, like “condom” and “rape” and two third of them is political in nature, like “democracy”, “authoritarian”. Many government officials’ names are banned like Adult video girls and dissidents. Since the “anti-pronography” is so vulgar, it is like a street sweeper being addicted to the dark sewage. Such kind of addiction cannot be disclosed.
要裸大家裸，要脫大家脫 Be fair, go naked together
In recent years, the Internet public opinion has threatened corrupted government officials. There is a huge tension between robber and crime fighter, monitoring and reaction against monitoring. The “real name registration” for government officials’ property has been brought out since 1995, but still being resisted. While the “real name registration” of internet users was introduced three years ago, it has already been implemented in some regions. Policies that are favorable towards government officials would be implemented in full speed, while those that are against their interests would encounter a lot of difficulties. Many netizens mock the situation as the new “Two Whatevers
“. What has occupied the drunk's mind is not the alcohol, the “whitelisting” and “real name registration” of the Internet has very suspicious motive. Dont’ they see that the blocking of public opinion would eventually bring people to the street? And the control over citizen access to information would bring about savagery?
Cartoonist Kuang Biao has a popular drawing: an ordinary citizen stripped off his clothes until he only has his underpants on says to a well-dressed government official that “now it is your turn”. Transparence is now a trend, if we are to go naked, everyone has to strip their clothes off by making public of their income and property. The Internet is like a paper window full of holes now, whether netizens use their real name or stay anonymous, they are running naked. If we all tell the truth in real name, hopefully we can attain our freedom away from fear.
Adults are not children and women are not tigers. Google is not a fierce animal and the government is not our nanny. Assitizens (translator note: citizen with no right are called as assitizen in China) do not need the emperor's new clothes. If we are not giving up the game or returning to the Orwell's monitored world of “1984”, let's not follow the netiquette. Now that you have the technology to peep into my privacy, I can also get over the wall to see your chrysanthemum, let's return to the nature and follow the forest rule of naked running.