A visitor to China discovered that the Whispernet connectivity of her Kindle was able to download news publications otherwise impossible to get inside China due to the Great Firewall. China takes this censorship duty seriously, so it is surprising this hole exists.

Kindle books

On a recent trip to China, a woman from San Francisco discovered that her Kindle could breach the nearly impenetrable, aptly named Great Firewall of China, enabling her to download a variety of news publications. The Chinese government goes to great lengths to prevent uncensored information from entering the country through the Internet. The censorship, often referred to as the Great Firewall of China, makes it difficult if not impossible to get English language news publications inside the country.

A blog for Kindle enthusiasts, Me and My Kindle, tells the story of San Francisco entrepreneur Sophia Chiang who brought her Kindle on an extended visit to China. Ms. Chiang expected to use the Kindle for reading books and keeping her kids occupied. What she was surprised to discover is she was able to download major news publications from back home through the Whispernet connection of the Kindle. She said she was able to buy  “uncensored English magazines like Newsweek, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Atlantic Monthly.”

China takes this censorship duty so seriously, it is surprising this hole exists. I suspect once they discover this easy way to breach the firewall, it will likely end up plugged. Meanwhile, those visiting China should bring the Kindle along. It may be the only way to get uncensored news from home.

Image credit: Amazon

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  1. Leonardo Cohen Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    Yeah, and now, the entire 1.2 billion chinese people also know that, so, good bye Kindle Whispernet in China…..

  2. Maybe due to being raised in a country in constant straggle I wonder how this is a positive journalistic post (I mean the original one). We could have continue living without knowing it and I just wonder how many people will suffer from it being out in the open now.
    No offense please.

  3. Chiang Kai-shek Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    I hope China close this glaring mistake quickly. Actually the Kindle itself should honor each countries policies and fix it themselves. And America needs to stay the hell out of other countries business. We need to stop being the world’s policeman. Yeah lots of people still want to come here but billions of people hate us with a passion for putting our nose where it doesn’t belong. That’s my political rant and I’m sticking to it. America needs to leave China alone and quit meddling in other countries affairs as it will usually haunt us years down the road.

    1. How can “America” stop being the world’s policeman -and- simultaneously police the internet on behalf of China?

      It’s not Amazon’s fault the Kindle they made for Americans and Europeans and sold to the same doesn’t follow China’s laws.

    2. This is unfair. China sells lots of products to markets like US. Why China doesn’t stop selling goods to the rest of the world? Even Barbies and iPhones are made in China. Is this something a little close to “stay the hell out of other countries business”?

      Censorship is a completely different subject than Business.

  4. I suspect the reason is due to the Kindle’s use of a proxy server ( / kindle-user.whispernet.com) at Amazon. I can’t believe the PRC just happen to miss this simple break in the Great Firewall since they also routinely block access to many proxy servers.

    IMO they left it open on purpose and not by mistake thinking it wouldn’t be a big problem.

  5. Rockfeller Furier Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    What’s her intention?

    Thanks to Mz Chiang that CCP is now aware of the hole and I doubt we can use kindle to access information any longer in China.

  6. James Kendrick Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    As stated in the article, this is possible for visitors to China, not residents. I fail to see why this should impact Chinese citizens at all.

  7. @beelerb: yep, this is just like the Skyfire Mobile browser that uses a UK proxy.

    I’m not sure that this is such big news though. Here in Beijing I can read the completely uncensored content of the New Yorker, NYT, Newsweek and Atlantic websites without using a VPN.

    Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Flickr: blocked. I don’t think the Kindle can help me there.

    1. Thanks for the heads up. Obviously more leaks need to be plugged in our great FireWall to protect our important citizens from irresponsible Western influence and corruption.

      The order has been given.

  8. Yankee Go Home Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    The western colonial powers need stay clear of China, China Territories, and China Seas. Our internet is off limits to propoganda from the west. Any Kindle violators will be tracked down and prosecuted to the full extent of our laws. Let it be known that we will not tolerate illegal activities by corporate America.

    1. Please, if you use the internet (made in America), then you must abide by the internet rules. Screw your censorship, why does the Party have to hide? In the west, people can say that the governments do anything, but at least in the West people are thought to be smart enough to figure out the truth instead of blindly following what their government tells them to think, or having wu mao party to tell them what they should feel.

  9. Packet Analyzer Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    We will not allow Kindle to destroy China network. Kindle users will be in grave danger if this outrageous violation of China sovereignty does not cease immediately. Amazon will feel our wrath. Neutralizers have been dispatched to appropriate stations around the globe. You WILL be dealt with in the harshest manner possible. The motherland will not yield to the decadent American corporations and their ilk.

  10. How dare Amazon behavior in this matter. This is a total outrage and a clear breach of China Security and Rules of Law. The perp must be punished for this attack on the peoples Republic Of China proper. This Kindle device should be banned and deemed a security threat of the highest order.

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