Cock.li, China, and Censorship

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There’s been a small number of touching moments running cock.li, like when I found out about a couple that met due to the site. There’s some weird unintended consequences of running a cock-related E-mail service, and a message I received a little while ago takes the cake as the coolest thing cock.li has done, on purpose or not:

Please forgive me for my bad English. This mail is not to report problems, I send this mail because I want to express my appreciation to you and your website. I ‘m from China, it’s difficult and dangerous for Chinese people to surf the international web. So we have to use tor to do that. Most of the mail provider don’t allow new account to be registered with tor, Gmail even asked us for phone number in mainland in case to receive the SMS to verify the account, which is for sure monitored by the government. I asked on the internet for solution, Some guys recommend your website. After using it, I’m impressed, it’s so simple, so flexible, I can finally use it to contact someone safely without worrying about being arrested by the government. (Anyway, I know there are criminals using tor to break laws, but I am not that kind.)

I don’t know more professional English to describe my appreciation, so I can only say, thank you, thank you very much.


I responded, thanking him for his E-mail and asking permission to share with others. I received this response:
It’s OK. You can share this mail to anyone as you wish. Making other guy notice the problem of Chinese internet censorship even can help us. But I think you may have already heard the recent massive DDOS attacks on Github and wpkg.org (the latter is not very famous), maybe you don’t want to attract too much attention to this precious website.
My email account name is not a problem, I’ve take many necessary steps to ensure my security (for example, the seem-to-be born year “19##” in the address account is not true, Am I cunning? :)), the only info which can reveal me maybe the time I send and reply messages, which is of little risk but there are rumors about people getting arrested because of posting time informations analyzed by government crackers. Heh heh, such a black humor in china, so many people never get engaged into IT industries are forced to get skilled in hacker stuff. Some times you feel so funny, like you’re playing a real role in Matrix or Mission Impossible, so many novel stories happened here every day. Like: one of the most powerful government officials murdered an English man, his subordinate (also an very powerful official) investigate it out, the powerful man ordered others to murder him too, the subordinate escaped, switched many cars, disguise himself, finally got into the American Embassy seeking asylum, the government center arranged forces moving across thousand to rescue him out because he may revealed the black secrets to Americans. What a FANTASTIC story! When I was reading such kind of storys on the net, it makes me back to the time when the first time I read Sherlock Holmes stories. But when I finished it, found it’s the damn real life.
Well, maybe I’m too chatty. I’m happy, because you’re so kind to reply my email. Just use any information you wish to, but just remove the timestamps of the mails, both yours and mine. Maybe sometimes I’ll change to another account (not because of your website or any reason, but it’s the rule to keep anonymous), maybe I’ll change back, who knows. But no matter where I am, I’ll always be grateful to you, and to others like the Tor guys.

Cock.li wasn’t started with an emphasis on privacy, but I personally advocate for online privacy so things like not banning Tor and not requiring personal information to register were just an extension of my personal ideals. With that, there’s a tangible presence of Tor users on cock.li every day. (When I accidentally banned Tor via SMTP, I received complaints in minutes!)

Welcome, China. Enjoy the cocks.