10 ways the Chinese Internet is different from yours

Inside China's Internet Censorship

This slideshow complements our interview with James Fallows , national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, who has experienced "The Great Firewall of China" firsthand.What follows is a list of the differences between the Internet, as seen in the U.S. vs. China.

It's slower

Due to congestion on China's backbone networks and the time it takes for communications to travel across undersea cables to the United States and Europe, travelers find a noticeable difference in the responsiveness of the Internet in China compared to the rest of the world.

Source: James Fallows, "The Connection Has Been Reset."

It's monitored

Chinese authorities monitor all the Internet traffic coming in and out of the country using mirroring routers designed for back-up and disaster recovery operations. These routers are hooked up to computers that scan for forbidden information.

Source: James Fallows, "The Connection Has Been Reset."

Access to foreign Web sites is limited

The Chinese government uses four mechanisms -- DNS blocking, reset commands, URL keyword blocking and content scanning -- to prevent Internet users in the country from reaching blacklisted Web sites or content.

Source: James Fallows, "The Connection Has Been Reset."

Image credit: Greatfirewallofchina.org

Blackouts are common

If the Chinese government finds that a user has downloaded forbidden content, it breaks the connection and prohibits the user from establishing communications with the site. These blackouts can last anywhere from two minutes to an hour.

Source: James Fallows, "The Connection Has Been Reset."

It's censored

The Chinese government is believed to employ tens of thousands of censors who monitor bloggers and delete offensive or subversive material. These censors require ISPs and other Internet companies to stop posting articles, forums and blogs about controversial subjects.

Source: James Fallows, "The Connection Has Been Reset."

There's less porn

The Chinese government justifies its Internet monitoring efforts by telling the public that it is keeping online information "wholesome" and free of threats such as sexual predators. Online pornography is not as pervasive in China, and users are less likely to stumble upon it.

Source: James Fallows, "The Connection Has Been Reset."

It's safer

Malicious activity -- including phishing scams, bots and zombies -- is less common in China than in the United States. China represented 7% of the Internet's malicious activity, while the United States represented 31% during the second half of 2007. One rationale for the Chinese Internet monitoring system is to keep hackers at bay.

Source: Symantec Global Internet Security Threat Report, April 2008

Image credit: The Beijing Public Security Bureau

There's less spam

China produces 4% of the world's spam, while the United States is the origin for 42% of all unsolicited e-mail. China decreased its spam volume by 131% in the second half of 2007, largely by reducing the number of bot-infested computers.

Source: Symantec Global Internet Security Threat Report, April 2008

It's based on IPv6

The China Next Generation Internet is an IPv6 backbone that the Chinese government is using as a testbed to develop IPv6 services, including distance learning and telemedicine. IPv6 is an upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol that features enough IP addresses for the Chinese population.

Source: Various news reports.

It's growing faster

The Chinese top-level domain (.cn) had the fastest growth rate on the Internet in 2007. Sales of .cn domain names grew 399% in 2007. In contrast, the most common domains in the U.S. (.com and .net) grew 24% year over year.

Source: Verisign Domain Name Industry Brief, March 2008

We want to hear from YOU!

We want to hear from YOU.  Are there other differences missing from our list?  If you've been online in China, share your experiences here.

Also, be sure to participate in our poll: Would you support government censorship of the Internet for less spam, viruses and other attacks?