10 January 2004

Great Internet Firewall of Singapore (Singnet outtage edition)

I'm wondering how many of you using Singnet broadband (and whether users on Pacific or Starhub/SCV) have encountered this problem during the recent week while surfing: all webpages from Blogspot, for example:


are redirected to http://new.blogger.com, which is the usual page you get, if the blogspot URL you entered doesn't exist.

Meaning, for the past week I haven't been able to read any blogs from blogspot.

Now, the weirdest thing is, you have to manually set your proxy settings to proxy.singnet.com.sg:8080 in IE/Netscape/Mozilla in order for the blogspot pages to load properly and not get redirected.

This is weird, since from 3 years ago, Singnet users didn't need to set their proxy servers; everything is automatically cached/filtered/blocked at the server end. Yet this week, something comes up to remind us all that proxy servers are not just for "speeding up internet access", as our ISPs call it, but to block/filter webpages.

Nowadays, it is considered impractical and heavy-handed to block entire websites, so our ISPs are experimenting with targetting and blocking specific pages from websites. Officially though, our ISPs do not have the technology to block specific pages, and are not acquiring the hard/software for this technology.

Jim Carey too, had this feeling in The Truman Show, when he discovers the stars in the sky to be huge stage lights. It's only the imperfect implementation of proxy blocking that reminds people of the existence of proxy servers behind our "Internet experience".

Latest Update:

I've been told that the blogspot problem has disappeared since yesterday noon, so you don't have to manually set the proxy server in your browser... Although, there might be longer loading times for singaporean pages on blogspot o_0

Don't ask me how that can happen, but a few friends told me the same thing. I'm sure in a day or two, the technology will be perfected, and everyone can have a wonderful internet experience without realising the amount of spying our ISPs do behind our backs

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