While some of our readers are lucky enough to live in far off lands of fast internet and access to that thing called YouTube, the many of us here in China are stuck behind the ever-present and always annoying Great Firewall. So how do we at Shanghaiist still have access to our favorite
timewasters websites like Facebook and Twitter? Does it have something to do with our obvious awesomeness? Well, yes and no.
Internet-savvy cats that we are, we use proxies on our computers. What is a proxy? For those in the dark, we decided to hit up the fine folks at Freedur, creators of a downloadable proxy, for the scoop on proxies, firewalls, and our chances of ever (fingers crossed) being able to watch Hulu in China:
What is Freedur?
Freedur is a proxy service that focuses on intuitiveness and user friendliness. Most proxies and VPNs require the user to configure internet settings; we made Freedur plug-and-play so even the most tech illiterate people can use with ease.
Proxy? VPN? What does that mean and how does it work?
A proxy, as the name suggests, works like an internet middle man. When you try to access a website that is blocked, the firewall basically says to your internet connection, “Sorry, but you cannot go there.” So instead, you send your “proxy,” who is allowed to go there, to fetch the information for you whether it’s a blog, video, or whatsoever.
In addition, the proxy is also very good about keeping your information a secret. Your ISP or local network administrator has the power to monitor your web activities, and by using a proxy your web traffic is effectively encrypted to protect your privacy.
When was Freedur developed?
Freedur was launched in 2009; we’re the new kid on the block.
So why the name Freedur?
Should the internet be FREE? DUR!
How has traffic been to your site and sales overall? For being the new kid on the block, you seem to be fairly popular already.
Thank you. We have a very talented marketing team that is extremely good at viral marketing and internet marketing in general. People are surprised to hear that to date we have not spent one penny on advertising fees (though this is changing very soon). Our traffic has been growing steadily since launch and we’re at the point where we’re scrambling to get new servers up to meet the demand.
How much of your clientele comes from China, or at least outside the United States?
The bulk of our clients come from outside the US and distributes quite evenly across many countries. Currently about 30% of our users come from China, however the vast majority of those are expats living in China and not Chinese locals.
Do you do anything specifically in China? We’ve noticed some of our IPs coming from Canada. Does this mean we’ll ever be able to watch Hulu?
Other than making sure the speed is fast (we do this for all regions), we don’t do anything special in China. Hulu is a special case where they have truly gone above and beyond to prevent non-US users to watch their videos. Enabling Hulu videos is on our to-do list, but we release features based on the feedback we get from customers, and it seems that Hulu isn’t a high priority at the moment. Our focus right now is on expanding the network to ensure the Freedur service continues to be lightning fast.
If the Chinese government knows about proxies, why do you think it’s still relatively easy to get around the “great firewall” via methods like Freedur?
For censorship to reach 100% efficiency, the amount of resources and the kind of infrastructure it would require goes up exponentially. But frankly, China is probably only interested in censorship for its local citizens and doesn’t mind for a relatively small group of foreign inhabitants to bypass their firewall. Because if they really cared they would be actively blocking proxy/VPN websites and obviously they’re not.
What do you think it would take for China to take down the GFW?
When China takes over USA as the undisputed #1 super power.
If you had to place a bet on it, what year do you think China will finally take down the GFW?
Image by chidorian