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China: Father of GFW on Internet Sovereignty

Categories: Internet governance, China

Fang Binxing, known as the “father of China’s Great Firewall,” recently recently made a speech on “The future of Internet security” which justifies the development of national network or national intranet by stressing the rights to Internet Sovereignty. Since Fang Binxing has great influence on the development of Internet infrastructure and censorship system in China, his speech may imply the future plan of the China Intranet.

The scopes

The notion of Internet Sovereignty is based upon a very sophisticated framework of Internet security. According to Fang Binxing's talk, the scopes of Internet security include:

1. Infrastructure: Bandwidth, Software and Hardware and etc.
2. Operation: Defense against hacking, hijacking, illegitimate access, plug-in and etc.
3. Data: User identity confirmation, privacy protection, authentication and etc.
4. Content: Monitoring, filtering, restricting unauthenticated access, screening and etc.

The principles for maintaining internet security are

1. Pragmatism: It will not jeopardize system stability
2. Privacy: Personal data in online transaction should be encrypted and protected. Enable privacy setting.
3. Control: Content must be traceable, archived and subject to auditing to ensure users’ responsibility. Filter system is needed.
4. Verification: identity verification system

Beast, Pet, Livestock and Children

When discussed the objectives of Information security Fang compared the imagined targets of security maintenance to beast, pet, livestock and children.

The first objective is security defense, the target is like a beast. It is like the management of a prison house, and invasive and preventive measure is needed. The second objective is trust, the imagined target is like pet. The management style is similar to an office where there is incentive and punishment. The third objective is reliability, the imagined target is livestock. It is like management a farm, the pigs are surrounded in bars and well fed. The fourth objective is control, the imagined target is children. It is like managing one's home, everything is under monitored and parental guidance.

Fang also suggested to set up a guarantee system for software design, hardware system, service provider and users to make sure that the security system can be functioned and will not jeopardize users’ need.

Internet Sovereignty

In his conclusion, he put forward the need for ensuring China's Internet Sovereignty and there are four principles for enhancing such sovereignty:

1. Independency – Against foreign intervention of the network. The government can negotiate for unilateral or multinational agreement for network access.
2. Equality – Against monopoly of giant ISPs such as Sprint and the so-called global principle in Internet governance.
3. Self-Defense – In order to self-defense, a sovereignty should have the rights to cut off from illegitimate network connection.
4. Governance – Against unauthenticated connection, access and plugin. Fang used Google's pulling out of China as an example to imply that when a company pulls out, its service in China should be ceased.

A full transcript of his talk is accessible here [zh]. Below is a widely circulated image of Fang Binxing among Chinese netizens for expressing their anger towards this Internet censorship guru: