Testimony by Shiyu Zhou of GIFC in the US Senate Hearing on Global Internet Freedom
Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law
Hearing on Global Internet Freedom: Corporate Responsibility and the Rule of Law
May 20, 2008
Testimony by Shiyu Zhou, Ph.D.
Deputy Director, Global Internet Freedom Consortium
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Coburn, members of the Committee, I am proud to stand before you today on behalf of the Global Internet Freedom Consortium, a small team of dedicated volunteers, connected through their common practice of Falun Gong, who have come together to work for the cause of Internet freedom. We constantly battle tens of thousands of Internet monitors and censors around the world so that millions of citizens inside repressive societies may safely communicate online and access websites related to human rights, freedom, and democracy. These men and women maintain operations out of their own pockets, but provide their products and support services to the citizens of closed societies entirely free of charge.
The Consortium has run the world’s largest anti-censorship operation since 2000. Our five existing tools – UltraSurf, DynaWeb FreeGate, Garden, GPass, and FirePhoenix — currently accommodate an estimated 95% of the total anti-censorship traffic in closed societies around the world, and are used DAILY by millions of users. As of January 2008, the Top Five censoring countries with the most average daily hits to our anti-censorship systems are (hits per day):
(a) China: 194.4 million
(b) Iran: 74.8 million
(c) Saudi Arabia: 8.4 million
(d) UAE: 8 million
(e) Syria: 2.8 million
There are also users from many more closed societies such as Cuba, Sudan, and Vietnam. Our services have been transforming the closed societies in a peaceful but powerful way that must not be underestimated.
Our tools have also been of benefit to US-based organizations such as Human Rights in China, Voice of America, and Radio Free Asia – and even companies like Google and Yahoo who self-censor, since we bring the uncensored version of their services into closed societies.
We have witnessed first-hand the effectiveness of anti-censorship technologies in improving information freedom for people in closed societies. During the democratic movement in Burma in late August 2007, our anti-censorship portals experienced a three-fold increase in average daily hits from IP addresses originating inside Burma. After the protests broke out in Tibet on March 10 of this year, there was a four-fold increase in the number of daily hits to our portals from Tibet with Tibetans desperately trying to send out information about the crackdown by Chinese authorities. Our anti-censorship tools are now one of the Tibetans’ few remaining links to the outside world. daily hits from IP addresses originating inside Burma. After the protests broke out in Tibet on March 10 of this year, there was a four-fold increase in the number of daily hits to our portals from Tibet with Tibetans desperately trying to send out information about the crackdown by Chinese authorities. Our anti-censorship tools are now one of the Tibetans’ few remaining links to the outside world.
At the same time that we are battling the censors for the freedom of the people in closed societies, we are, unfortunately, finding strong indication that companies such as Cisco located in free societies may be involved in helping the Chinese security agencies monitor and censor the Internet, and persecute and prosecute Chinese citizens. In a 2002 Cisco (China) PowerPoint presentation entitled “An Overview of [China's] Public Security Industry,” now in our possession, a Cisco (China) official in the Government Business Department listed the “Golden Shield Project” – the host project of China’s Great Firewall – as one of Cisco's major target customers. In this document, which apparently lays out the marketing strategy for Cisco (China) to sell products to the Chinese security police, one of the main objectives of the Golden Shield was to “combat the ‘Falun Gong’ evil cult” – parroting the rhetoric of the Chinese authorities used to persecute Falun Gong.
In the presentation page headed "Cisco Opportunities [in the Golden Shield Project]," Cisco offers much more than just routers; it offers planning, construction, technical training, and operations maintenance for the Golden Shield. Our research shows that the infrastructure of China’s Great Firewall coincides with the layouts in Cisco (China)’s PowerPoint document.
Cisco can no longer assure Congress that Cisco (China) has not been and is not now an accomplice and partner in China’s Internet repression and, whether directly or indirectly, in its persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and other peaceful citizens in China.
A particularly insidious aspect of information control is that it allows a repressive government to spoon feed the populace with whatever false information it chooses. On the flip side, anti- censorship technology can allow the people in closed societies to be better informed and to be less subject to manipulation by an unscrupulous leadership. Winning people over to a more open and free system via the Internet could very well be a way to avoid future conflicts that cost lives.
Only when the US shows more determination to keep the Internet open than the closed societies’ will to seal it off, can there be the hope of information freedom and democracy for the citizens in all closed societies, and a more peaceful tomorrow for all of mankind.
Inform, connect, and empower the people in closed societies with information on a free Internet.
The Great Firewall will be taken down as the Berlin Wall.
We Stand Together
There is no freedom without freedom of information. There is no freedom of information without Internet freedom.