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[liberationtech] Collateral Freedom in China

Harlan Yu harlanyu at
Thu May 2 12:45:02 PDT 2013

Hi LibTech,

OpenITP has just released a new report—Collateral Freedom—that studies the
state of circumvention tool usage in China today. From the report’s

This report documents the experiences of 1,175 Chinese Internet users who
are circumventing their country’s Internet censorship—and it carries a
powerful message for developers and funders of censorship circumvention
tools. We believe these results show an opportunity for the circumvention
tech community to build stable, long term improvements in Internet freedom
in China.

The circumvention tools that work best for these users are technologically
diverse, but they are united by a shared political feature: the collateral
cost of choosing to block them is prohibitive for China’s censors. Our
survey respondents are relying not on tools that the Great Firewall can’t
block, but rather on tools that the Chinese government does not want the
Firewall to block. Internet freedom for these users is collateral freedom,
built on technologies and platforms that the regime finds economically or
politically indispensable.

Download the full report here:

The study was conducted by David Robinson, Harlan Yu and Anne An. It was
managed by OpenITP, and supported by Radio Free Asia’s Open Technology
Fund. We wrote it primarily for developers and funders of censorship
circumvention technology projects, but is also designed to be accessible
for non-technical policymakers who are interested in Internet freedom, and
for China specialists without technology background.

We’d be glad to hear any feedback you all have!


Harlan Yu
Robinson + Yu
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