June 21, 2009

Off-Campus Internet Access

Below is my letter sent to the Information Technology Service Center of my university on June 17 (five days ago), regarding secured off-campus access to the Internet. By now I haven't received any reply yet. I understand that this letter may suffer from inaccurate technical details in the second paragraph, as I am not an expert in network technology. However, I believe the point I would like to make is well conveyed.

Dear Officer

As is known to the world, the Internet censorship in China is most intensive, especially in recent years. Many essential resources on the web, e.g. Wikipedia, Bing, Live Search, AOL (partial), Google (partial), MSN (partial), Hotmail, Irish Chronicle, Hong Kong Economic Journal, United Nations News, The Learning Channel, Technorati, Blogger, Webshots, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, MotorBikeAssociation etc., are frequently blocked (though maybe intermittently unblocked) by the Great Fire Wall of China (GFW). As a university student, I very often have the need to study and research and access these and more sites at home. The inconvenience in not being able to access many blocked sites has been extremely troublesome during my study.

May I request the ITSC to provide services that equip students and scholars to access the legally allowed whole of Internet wherever they are in the world. Actually the Chinese University of Hong Kong already has such measure. CUHK students can connect to the VPN server of the University through an encrypted tunnel (via HTTPS), making the data recondite to the GFW, thus serving the purpose. I hold the belief that providing access of information to students and scholars is a university's foremost responsibility, and this responsibility should not be limited to the time students stay on campus but whenever and wherever they need it.

For your information, my intended access to the information provided by these sites and others, no matter blocked or unblocked, perfectly complies with local and international laws, and serves solely the purpose of necessary research and education.

Yours faithfully

Zhang Han

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