Justin Tabb:

Our very first video we showed in this series is basically that China. In China, we were able to give you Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google, open Google, all in China using SubstratumNode with a minimal number of four nodes. In Russia, we were able to show you that Telegram works. And then in Iran, we were able to show you that basically all the things that are blocked there pretty much the same as China works — so Facebook, Google, YouTube…

Man, I hope this thing doesn’t completely backfire on Substratum in 6-8 months. These video updates from Substratum CEO Justin Tabb are purposely misleading and are presented in a way that suggests it’s currently not possible to access these websites and services in China.

What Tabb doesn’t mention is that China’s firewall isn’t exactly proactive when it comes to traffic monitoring and blocking. The firewall has virtual holes in the form of unblocked IP addresses, and it will react to intrusions eventually. This is precisely why VPN providers are constantly switching IP addresses. Think of yourself breaking into Disney World after the park has closed down for the night. Guards patrol around the property, but they can’t proactively cover every single potential entry point at one time. If you happen to slip in undetected, it’s only a matter of time before you’re found and kicked out.

Substratum’s claim of successfully bypassing China’s firewall is downright misleading. Why? Because their goal is long-term circumvention, and not temporary residence. Anyone in China can browse Facebook and Twitter by setting up a ShadowSocks or OpenVPN install on a server with an IP address that hasn’t been blocked by China’s firewall. In fact, ShadowSocks is how a friend of mine uses Facebook in China, and he’s been doing this for quite a while. Did he ever claim he successfully bypassed China’s firewall? Nope. The meaning of the word “bypass” can change depending on the context. I just think Substratum claiming they have bypassed China’s firewall with four nodes (four IP addresses that can be easily blocked) is a little scammy.

Remember, VPN providers are successful because they have the capital and demand to constantly move around to maintain their service. Substratum’s network will only have long-term success with HUGE adoption VERY quickly because there’s nothing stopping the Chinese government from spending a few “pennies” to run nodes from inside of China. After that, it would just be a matter of recording the other IP addresses of nodes on the network and blocking them on the firewall. Since SubstratumNode will use a gossip-like protocol for node discovery, this wouldn’t be difficult for a motivated individual working from home, let alone the Chinese government.

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