China’s Firewall Blocks RSS Feeds

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According to latest news reports, China is continuing its heavy censorship of Internet by banning all kinds of RSS feeds. Previously, there have been news that Feedburner feeds have been blocked but Chinese viewers were able to access latest information delivered by other RSS feeds. China’s Public Security Bureau (PSB) has tightened the screws further by blocking URLs that contain “feeds”, “rss” and “blog”.

China is expected to surpass number of broadband users in the United States in the coming 12-18 months. Considering the fact China is becoming world’s fastest online market place, the censorship decision of Chinese government is highly questionable.

From a Web 2.0 perspective, it is shocking to see the use of a firewall for blocking foreign competition especially at a stage when the Chinese government is negotiating Free Trade Agreement with countries like Australia. There is also a possibility of China entering an APEC FTA in the future and if that happens it would be unfair to ignore the access rights of online industries.

As you would expect, there are still some alternate paths available for Chinese readers. If the aggregator is set to display the full post (or part of the post is made available) and the users clicks to read more, everything works perfectly. On the other hand, if a portion of the feed is displayed and the user clicks the title, then he gets the ‘server stopped responding’ error for firewall.

Another option is the use of a popular Firefox extension gladder, a proxy tool which is useful for bypassing the firewall. Similarly there is a tool called Tor which allows a client to access the Internet anonymously through a network of virtual tunnels. However, these alternate options are typically slower than the normal lag for surfing websites.