Chinese Internet Censorship Index

I’ve mentioned a few times that I’ve been working on part of the Uncensor [site no longer available] project for Amnesty International Australia.

Well, the main feature I’ve been working is partially live now – so I have something to point to :) – and given today is the Day of protest [site no longer available] it seems fitting that I should talk a little bit more about the project.


The Chinese Internet Censorship Index [site no longer available] (or the short version: CICI – pron. chi-chi) is a symbolic visual representation of the level of internet censorship in China at any time. It collects data about sites that have been reported as blocked and presents them as a pseudo “stock index” – if the index is up, it means that more sites are accessible, down means more sites are blocked.

I was responsible for defining the methodology (some of which is outlined in a PDF [266 KB] on the site [site no longer available]) and building the data collection tools for the index. I also built some of the registration features, integrated the site with my favourite email management tool, Campaign Monitor, and a REST+JSON API to support the Flash visualisation and an AJAX testing application (more on that in a sec).

For the technically inclined – i.e. the folks for whom all those acronyms actually mean something ;) – all the components were developed in Django (a Python-based framework).

Getting the data

Data for the index is collected by testing sites via proxies that are hosted within China, and also via the in-browser testing application that volunteers can run from within China. We have some tricks up our sleeve for ensuring that the test app isn’t blocked for participants – so you if happen to be visiting China in a period around the Olympics, you may want to register as a CICI tester [site no longer available].

The hope is that by testing in the lead-up to, during and after the Olympics in August, we can evaluate if the Chinese government lives up to its promises about lifting the measures of internet censorship that have become known as the Great Firewall of China.

Sites will be added to the index over time, as they are reported (in places like the Twitter #gfwlist). My personal hope is that the data collected may also help initiatives like the Open Internet Initiative – but we’ll see about that in due course…

Anyways – check it out and spread the word. I’m a big fan of Amnesty and the campaign, and I’m stoked to have been able to participate. I hope that the campaign can continue to build in the coming weeks and play a role in lifting internet repression in China.

NGOs & Nonprofits, Social media & networking

Uncensor Day of Protest

Uncensor Day of Protest screenshot example

The Uncensor campaign recently launched an online protest [site no longer available] to take place on 30 July.

The action page contains instructions on how to add a small bit of code to your blog theme to participate in the protest – which will activate automatically on 30 July.

The page explains in more detail and includes a way of previewing what your blog will look like on the day (the screenshot above shows the banner on the Amnesty website).

Disclosure: I’m working on the Uncensor project, but this action is not my work. My bit will be launched real soon now :)

NGOs & Nonprofits

Uncensor badges

Amnesty’s Uncensor campaign has just launched some new badges, related to the Search for Freedom functionality on the campaign site:

The badges, which feature the campaign “mascot” Nuwa, allow visitors to run a search which shows the discrepancies between the censored searches available to Chinese netizens and the uncensored versions across a variety of sites.

Disclosure: although I’ve not worked on the badges component, I am working on other functionality for the Uncensor campaign site.

NGOs & Nonprofits, Work

Uncensor China

Just a quick note to mention that yesterday, Amnesty International Australia’s Uncensor (link no longer active) site was launched. This is the project I’ve been involved in, though the work I’m doing isn’t on the site yet.

The site is part of Amnesty’s campaign in the lead up to the Olympics being held in August in China, focusing on internet censorship and repression. I’ve been following the blog for a couple of days now and the writing there is excellent – really informative.

The “Search for Freedom” function (in the right sidebar) shows first hand China’s censorship regime at work, and clearly highlights how Google is participating in the “Golden Shield” system.

You may have heard about the Fuwa, the Chinese Olympics mascot. Well it seems that they left someone out – meet Nu Wa (link no longer active) the Uncensor mascot. Nu Wa (who’s name means “outraged, angry young boy”, wants to set the record straight by speaking about the human rights abuses suffered by people in China.

I really dig the site, as does Priscilla. Well worth checking out…