China plans to begin filtering SMS text messages for dangerous (i.e. anti-Party or pro-democracy) content. Lots of luck, guys. In a country that sends (according to the article linked above) 7,000 per second, crude keyword filtering is the only practicable method, and if dissidents have their wits about them, that'll prove utterly useless. I guess the Party leadership finally got around to reading the chapter in Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs about how text messaging helped bring down Estrada's government in the Phillipines. Or, for that matter, maybe they were thumbing through Jesse Walker's 2003 interview with Rheingold.

NEXT: Saddam the Vegan?

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  1. 7000 text messages/second is probably less than 100k/second. It doesn’t take much computing power to do some fairly complicated analysis on that. My laptop computer can do basic keyword filtering on that much data.

    Also, it only amounts to a couple of terrabytes per year, which means that all of the text messages sent can be saved for a cost of only a few thousand bucks per year. Which means that if, for example, they arrest someone for real-world “subversive activities”, they can fairly quickly and easily look at all the messages he’s sent or received, and all the messages of the people he’s sent to, or received from. Depending on how many other people each person messages to, they could possibly go quite a few steps out from the original “subversive”. All of which means that, even if you send your message in the Chinese equivalent of “1337”-speak, you’d better pray that the guy you’re sending it to never gets arrested for subversive activites. And that nobody *that* guy sends messages to ever gets arrested for subversive activities.

    If nothing else, it should produce quite a chilling effect.

  2. Great title, Julian. Especially if yer a fan of PL8SPK or “C D B!” like moi.

  3. Hang the old bastards from the streetlamps.

  4. Lisa,

    So then I should say; noowav? ;>

  5. I’m hep to “PL8SPK” but; “C D B” ?

  6. Cocksucking douche bag

  7. CDB and its sequel, CDC, by William Steig, author of the original Shrek.

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