I just returned from a very interesting week at ICANN’s conference in Beijing – I have been to Hong Kong many times, but this was my first visit to mainland China. I had no idea what to expect, but visions of communism and martial law kept dancing around in my head. Arriving in Beijing, however, I was amazed at how vibrant, bustling, and – dare I say it – capitalist the city was. Entrepreneurship and its associated vitality were everywhere.
ICANN had a VPN that circumvented China’s national firewall, allowing conference-goers unrestricted Internet access. At the hotel I saw some two to three hundred people wholly unrelated to ICANN, and realized word had gotten out: these people were taking advantage of ICANN’s network to escape the firewall! It seemed particularly apropos considering ICANN’s role as an organization seeking to promote access to an autonomous internet.