A Jungle Disk Trinitern Goes Abroad

Recently, I had the opportunity to go abroad with a Trinity University program to take a class about ecology and biological conservation in China located in the city of Zhuhai, Guangzhou. Thanks to the support of Jungle Disk, I was able to continue my internship despite the terrible time difference and the poor internet connectivity. The program was amazing and I learned a lot about the different species in China and the measures that are being taking in order to ensure their preservation.

Immersed in a different culture, I was able to learn about China’s internet policies as they vary greatly from the ones of the United States. To start with, most website domains were blocked under the Chinese internet censorship policy. This included Google, YouTube, Yahoo and most other search engines. Because of this, they have created a different search engine called Baidu. Although it allows you to search different topics, the information is very limited as the government controls and censors what can be published or not. Most of the information may be taken down if it mentions any political, religious or what they consider as illegal content. For their entertainment platforms they use YouTube-like platforms called Youku and Bilibili. When I asked some of the students in China about their opinions on this policy they stated, “It’s not a good thing but it’s not bad either. There are a lot of governments from other countries that are trying to separate China, therefore its important for the Chinese government to make the right choices and differentiate the good things from the bad.” Therefore, there is an overall positive consensus about this censoring regarding the Chinese population, as most of them believe their government is doing it for the wellbeing of their people.

There are also other ways to go around this through a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs can be purchased from as little as eight dollars a month and help redirect the signal from China to another country, such as the U.S. or Japan. On my trip, I used one called ExpressVPN, which was pretty inexpensive and gave me little trouble when trying to connect to most banned websites such as Google and Youtube.

Regarding the level of security in the cyber world, it can be said that in China there is little to none. China’s laws and regulations regarding the data industry have concentrated more in their censoring policy than on having formal requirements for data safeguards. This means that unlike in Europe and North America, China doesn’t have laws that protect against cybercrime. That means that people have a much easier time hacking and stealing data away from businesses and individuals. This class content was enlightening and I had a great time abroad, but experiencing the internet restrictions and knowing about the risks that people face in other countries was another type of valuable knowledge.

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