A petition hosted by the White House calls for the computer scientists who built the "Great Firewall" of China to be denied entry to the US.
The petition was submitted to the Obama administration on Friday, and has already garnered almost 7,000 signatures from American citizens who oppose China's extensive web censoring "firewall".
If the appeal reaches the 100,000 mark by 24 February, White House staff will be obliged to review it, send it to “the appropriate policy experts” and issue an official response.
The full wording of the petition is as follows:
People work on information technology always need to communicate and exchange knowledges between countries. If some of them use their skills and technology for blocking people to use internet for certain governments, all the other countries should boycott such behavior.
If they apply to enter US, for example to attend a technology conference, as a responsible government has always valued freedom, it reasonable to deny it.
Although the petition is aimed at all those who contribute to internet censorship, singled out for particular attention are the chief architects of the Great Firewall – arguably the world’s most successful and comprehensive web filtering system.
A brief list posted to coding site Github names and shames Fang Binxing, often dubbed the Father of the Great Firewall, Weili Han – associate professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University – and Gang Xiong of the Chinese Academy of Science’s Institute of Computing Technology.
While the petition has little chance of success, not least because the identities of most of those involved in the shadowy censorship project remain a mystery, it’s another sign of the growing calls from within the US for the Obama administration to pursue a strategy of reciprocity with China.
One particularly contentious area has been the awarding of work visas to journalists – something the Chinese authorities are far less keen to do than their counterparts in Washington.
In September 2011, US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher introduced the Chinese Media Reciprocity Act. Although never enacted, it called for US I-visas to be issued to Chinese state media only on a one-for-one basis. ®