The "Great Firewall" of China and the issues concerning internet censorship are well known -- including the fact that for all the resources they've put into blocking "bad" content, the filters don't work very well. However, what's interesting is that in the last year or so, China has slowly been taking a different approach to fighting whatever it is they don't like online. Instead of just blocking it at the source, they're trying to more closely watch what each individual is doing. Basically, they're trying to completely do away with any kind of internet anonymity by requiring people to register for almost anything they do online. It started mainly by shutting down "unlicensed" cybercafes a few years ago, but picked up last year when the government forced everyone who runs a website to "register" with the government, so they can associate each site with someone to blame, should anything go wrong. Of course, the web is just one way to communicate, and apparently someone just realized that. So, the latest move is to require anyone who runs their own email server to get a "license" first. They claim its an anti-spam move, but given how often China announces plans to crackdown on spam and how little has actually been done, it's a bit difficult to take them seriously. It's also worth noting that the law has a data retention element to it, requiring those "licensed" email server owners to retain all email that passes through the server for 60 days. Based on this, the law appears to have made criminals out of just about any business that dares to run their own email server. Either way, with all this registration and licensing going on, just imagine the bureaucracy it will create.
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