As the Chinese government restricts access to controversial Web sites in the runup to the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, the country's Web surfers are finding creative ways around the censors. Companies that offer technologies for viewing blocked sites and hiding online communications say they have seen a spike in demand over the past month.
As the June 4 date approached, the government clamped down on a range of Web sites and services. Google's (GOOG) YouTube video service was rendered inaccessible, as was the Twitter microblogging service. Microsoft (MSFT) saw its brand-new search engine, Bing, walled off from Chinese users. And more than 400 hundred blogs have been taken offline or delisted from the popular Chinese search engine, Baidu.com (BIDU). "There was this whole wave of shutdowns over the past few days," says Alex Miller, director of marketing for software developer Global Web Security, in a phone interview from his office in Beijing. "It's been very serious."