The Golden Shield Project, also known as the Great Firewall, is a censorship and surveillance project run by the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China, which intercepts potentially unfavourable computer data from foreign countries. The Golden Shield Project is able to block certain websites and apps in China, as well as to filter out keywords in search engines that are related to hostile ideologies.

This process can take place in different ways, but optical character recognition (OCR) is the simplest and most frequently used by softwares. OCR is a converter that detects typographical characters; it is a programme that can read and analyse the texts that are present in any document, from entire websites to simple photographs that contain written words.

The Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China is therefore able to determine automatically whether a message or a document is considered dangerous based on the keywords it contains. In order to do this, a series of keywords, which are immediately intercepted and censored, has been defined.

An example of this process can be the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest and massacre, an event that was completely censored in China and of which many keywords are still blocked online today.

In China, online communication is becoming a real problem. Excessive surveillance does not allow citizens to communicate privately or publicly about unpleasant events of the past, or to criticise the country’s current problems.

Interceptor is a variable font that through a ligature system transforms censored words in China into animated symbols. As a result of this process, OCR is unable to detect the meaning of a sentence, so that no censorship can occur.

The integration of animation into the typeface increases the difficulty of character recognition, thus making the symbol more secure as a mean of communication.

Interceptor is planned to be constantly updated. In China, hostile keywords are increasing daily. For example, several keywords related to the 2019 Hong Kong protests are starting to be monitored and in some cases censored, so it is necessary for the font to change in order to adapt to new possible issues.

Ares Pedroli — Diploma Project — BA Graphic Design, ECAL 2021
Graphic design, Type design & Code: Ares Pedroli
Supervisors: Angelo Benedetto, Aurèle Sack, Nicole Udry, Clio Hadjigeorgiou & Pierry Jaquillard