A Study of China's Censorship and Its Evasion Through the Lens of Online Gaming


Yuzhou Feng, Florida International University; Ruyu Zhai, Hangzhou Dianzi University; Radu Sion, Stony Brook University; Bogdan Carbunar, Florida International University


For the past 20 years, China has increasingly restricted the access of minors to online games using addiction prevention systems (APSes). At the same time, and through different means, i.e., the Great Firewall of China (GFW), it also restricts general population access to the international Internet. This paper studies how these restrictions impact young online gamers, and their evasion efforts. We present results from surveys (n = 2,415) and semi-structured interviews (n = 35) revealing viable commonly deployed APS evasion techniques and APS vulnerabilities. We conclude that the APS does not work as designed, even against very young online game players, and can act as a censorship evasion training ground for tomorrow's adults, by familiarization with and normalization of general evasion techniques, and desensitization to their dangers. Findings from these studies may further inform developers of censorship-resistant systems about the perceptions and evasion strategies of their prospective users, and help design tools that leverage services and platforms popular among the censored audience.

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@inproceedings {291174,
author = {Yuzhou Feng and Ruyu Zhai and Radu Sion and Bogdan Carbunar},
title = {A Study of China{\textquoteright}s Censorship and Its Evasion Through the Lens of Online Gaming},
booktitle = {32nd USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 23)},
year = {2023},
isbn = {978-1-939133-37-3},
address = {Anaheim, CA},
pages = {2599--2616},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/usenixsecurity23/presentation/feng},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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