China clamping down on use of VPNs to evade Great Firewall

BEIJING (AP) — China is tightening control over foreign companies’ internet use in a move some worry might disrupt their operations or jeopardize trade secrets as part of a crackdown

Source: China clamping down on use of VPNs to evade Great Firewall

We will all have to wait to see how this may or may not affect us, but without a functioning method of bypassing the GFW  then many expats, businesses will struggle to enjoy China.

Is DuckDuckGo the latest victim of the GFW?

As many of my friends and colleagues will tell you that I have been using DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine for about 5 years now. This proved a smart choice when I moved to China because other search engines were either filtered or just did not work from the mainland.

In the 3 years that I have been living and working in China, 2014 has to be the worst year for seeing sites being blocked, and the whole international web experience is becoming totally miserable. For example, earlier this year Dropbox was just partially blocked, then it was totally unblocked and many people were ecstatic but as of a few months ago it is now 100% blocked!

There are many ways to get around the blockages, but none of them provide you with the experience that you have when outside of China. They involve connecting a VPN, changing your computer configuration etc Not fun when you just want to quickly look something up.

Yesterday, I fired up my browser and instead of getting the usual DuckDuckGo logo and search box, I was presented with a progress bar that stopped moving and eventually the message 

Safari can’t open the page “https://duckduckgo.com” because Safari can’t establish a secure connection to the server “duckduckgo.com”

Anybody who has spent any amount of time in China immediately knows that this is almost certainly a result of the site being blocked by the GFW. So I did a bit of investigating and noticed that the DNS was being poisoned because it returned the ip 59.24.3.173 which appears to be for a non-existent server in South Korea. It also happens to be the same IP that was used to block Google.com according to this The Next Web article!

With the imminent launch of iOS 8 and Mac OS X Yosemite I was looking forward to unencumbered DuckDuckGo web search on both my iPhone and Mac. But alas, this is not going to the the case unless the Chinese authorities have a change of heart, of which I certainly won’t be holding my breath.