bad news on web browsers in China

Two pieces of news regarding web browsers in China, unfortunately neither of them good news.

China Tech News is reporting that Kingsoft, a software security package, and 360 Browser, which purports to be a more secure browser from Qihoo, are no longer working together as they had claimed to do earlier this year.

Browser War: China’s 360, Kingsoft Cease Tech Security Cooperation

While I haven’t been to the mainland recently (since 2007 in fact) I think a lot of the problems around software security and piracy are still par for the course.  That two “security” software vendors can’t work together just means that the user loses.  Kingsoft also claimed to be working with Maxthon earlier this year, Kingsoft, Maxthon To Jointly Develop Secure Browser– we’ll see if that ends up a better partnership than with Qihoo.

Then there is more ominous news from the BBC and The Register regarding the fact that Opera has forced all users of Opera Mini in China to use the Chinese language Mini. This comes with a new proxy server that is filtering access to websites like Facebook and Twitter, which used to be accessible.

Opera web browser ‘censors’ Chinese content

Opera plugs hole in Great Firewall of China

In fact Twitter users in China were complaining of this a few days before the BBC article was posted. There’s a lot to dislike about this outside of the fact that it looks like Opera is working with the Chinese government to filter the web for Chinese users. It also means that if you are an expatriate in China, and you’re more comfortable with an English interface for your web browser, you can’t use Opera Mini in English in China.

This is a sad day for the open web in China.

4 Responses to bad news on web browsers in China

  1. Since I can’t find you on IRC recently, I’ll tell my story here. I’ll be very happy if you can give us some advice.

    In Israel, the web is almost open. The most prominent reasons to use IE are silly developers who are forcing users to use IE, because they think some things are impossible to implement in other browsers (such as embedding WMV video for example). Well, until now – our government wants to upgrade their online services such as paying taxes by requiring citizens to use stronger identification using smart cards, as part of their Smart ID cards project.

    Their vision is selling us 10$ smart cards readers, which will support Windows only (rumors are saying there will be a Mac port), and they don’t believe it is possible to implement open drivers so everyone will be able to enjoy it. Using browsers such as Mobile Firefox, and operating systems such as Linux, it might be soon impossible to access our government websites, and we are unsure if Firefox users will be able to access those sites at all!

    In case they will finish implementing this on time, I afraid that in few years from now, they will force us to identify using this non-standard way of identification to 3rd party sites, so Firefox users won’t be able even to comment on news articles.

  2. Coming from an Eastern European country that used to be under a dictatorship, I must say that it is just shameful how all these American and European companies take part in the Chinese government’s censorship just to get a bigger market.

  3. To put it bluntly, if you somehow expect an open web in China, you have deluded yourself. Get out while you can, and if you can’t then work toward changing *that*.

  4. The government of China is getting scarier every year. Its like their already gearing up for another cold war.

    Step one is Censoring out all outside Influences.

    Step two is the Chinese Government injecting only what **they** want their people to see in TV and internet media.

    Stop freakin me out China! Just because an outside influence that promotes ideals of freedom of speech, peaceful coexistance and democracy, or even if its written in English, doesn’t mean its a bad thing!

    Speak up people of China… for the future of our children, for the future of the human race. God Bless.