Tuesday, October 27, 2020

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Chinese app offers a peek over the Great Firewall, with big catches

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Tuber app bypasses China's Great Firewall


Shanghai Fengxuan Information Technology Co.

You can’t officially bypass China’s Great Firewall when it’s illegal to use a VPN for that in the country. Chinese residents appear to have a legal option, though, at least if they’re willing to live with significant consequences. TechCrunch notes that a Qihoo 360-owned company has released Tuber, an Android browser (iOS is reportedly coming soon) that lets you visit otherwise blocked sites, like YouTube and Wikipedia. However, you might not want to rush to get it — assuming it survives.

You’ll still have to endure censorship. You won’t find content documenting the Tiananmen Square massacre or making fun of Xi Jinping. And crucially, you’ll have to register with a Chinese phone number tied to your real name. The developers warn that watching or sharing the ‘wrong’ material could get you in trouble with Chinese authorities.

There’s also the challenge of finding the app. It had vanished Huawei’s Android app store as of October 10th, and a website TechCrunch linked was down as we wrote this. It’s not certain what prompted these moves, but it wouldn’t be shocking if even that peek past the usual censorship was too much for officials.

There could be consequences either way. The developer, Shanghai Fengxuan Information Technology Co., is 70 percent owned by a subsidiary of Chinese security firm Qihoo 360. Whether or not Qihoo greenlit the app, it could face questions if the government didn’t approve the release.

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