China, Once Again, Using Censorship Elsewhere To Justify Oppressive Great Firewall Of China

from the well,-duh dept

Back during both the ACTA fight and the SOPA fight, we pointed out that any move by Western countries to do even minor censorship would be used by the Chinese to justify its own much more oppressive censorship via the Great Firewall of China. The fact that the MPAA held up China as the model of a country that does censorship right played right into the typical Chinese justifications for its internet regime. In fact, Chinese officials have been quoted claiming that they really first put the Great Firewall in place to stop copyright infringement, but have since expanded it to better protect the public.

The latest, as pointed out by Dan Tobias in our comments, is that the official newspaper of the Chinese government is now pointing to various attempts in the west to “block” content to explain that internet censorship is in the public’s interest (they refer to it as “web regulation” but you know what they mean). They cite a variety of cases that we’ve spoken about as heading down the slippery slope to justify their own censorship. They mention Germany’s plan to try to tax Google for fair use-level snippets, Facebook’s new efforts to censor speech they don’t like, the UK’s new hysteria blaming Google for child porn, and even the Turkish Prime Minister blaming Twitter for social unrest.

The new rule for Google Search is said to be a milestone that marks Germany’s first efforts to regulate its Internet services.

Many countries are trying to regulate their Internet services. Under pressure from public opinion, many well-known websites are becoming more self-disciplined. For example, Facebook has started to provide training for its website regulators to help identify and delete inappropriate remarks. In Turkey, where chaos and turmoil are running rampant, the Turkish government criticized social media as the top threat. Similar denouncements have also been heard from the British Parliament.

The op-ed then argues that these are all just different ways of recognizing that free speech online is dangerous and needs to be regulated for the public benefit.

Finding ways to take concrete regulatory approaches that appeal to the broad masses is what really matters. Considering the complexity of public opinion, this is the most difficult part of Internet regulation. People are starting to understand the necessity of Internet regulation when they are publicly informed of some major measures and actions in advance, thanks to more transparent approaches.

Most Chinese are looking forward to free speech on the Internet, while at the same time are expecting an orderly social environment. People already understand that free speech can not go against social order. Internet regulation is not only an embodiment of the government’s will, but is also laid on the foundation of the public interest.

Through the Internet, Chinese people are becoming more knowledgeable about democracy and freedom. Although this virtual community has bred some political and moral traps, Internet regulation has to be carried out until those spreading adverse remarks fear the strength of the public interest.

Note, of course, that this was presented on the very same day that the government sought to censor any mention, no matter how oblique, of the Tiananmen Square uprising.

When you start down the slippery slope of censorship, even if the intentions are good, you have to realize that others will use it to justify any and all oppressive censorship as well, in the name of “the public interest.”

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Comments on “China, Once Again, Using Censorship Elsewhere To Justify Oppressive Great Firewall Of China”

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out_of_the_blue says:

"Germany's plan to try to tax Google for fair use-level snippets"

is NOT in the realm of censorship.

That makes your take, and no doubt the source from which you re-wrote, not about censorship in China but defending mega-corp Google, the commercial front SPY AGENCY that the NSA has “direct” access to.

So actually it’s YOU, Mike, cynically using China’s censorship to justify letting secretive corporations grow without limit and without responsibility to society.

We The People don’t want either communism or corporatocracy.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: "Germany's plan to try to tax Google for fair use-level snippets"

“Germany’s plan to try to tax Google for fair use-level snippets”

is NOT in the realm of censorship.

“When the State singles out the press, though, the political constraints that prevent a legislature from passing crippling taxes of general applicability are weakened, and the threat of burdensome taxes becomes acute. That threat can operate as effectively as a censor to check critical comment by the press, undercutting the basic assumption of our political system that the press will often serve as an important restraint on government.” – US Supreme Court

” It is bad because, in the light of its history and of its present setting, it is seen to be a deliberate and calculated device in the guise of a tax to limit the circulation of information to which the public is entitled in virtue of the constitutional guaranties. A free press stands as one of the great interpreters between the government and the people. To allow it to be fettered is to fetter ourselves.” — US Supreme Court

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: Re: "Germany's plan to try to tax Google for fair use-level snippets"

Oooh, a RARE response to ME! — I never bother to check of late, because fanboys post so much vile ad hom and have no intention of rational discussion.

But Google is NOT the press: it’s merely TAKING the content that the press makes and grifting money from it.

Germany is merely doing as decided in the US, er, Meltwater case: scraping headlines is NOT “fair use”.

So you fail on the merits again, but do show that promoting Google is your main purpose!

velox (profile) says:

Great Firewall built by US Tech

Another reason that China can point to US hypocrisy on this topic is the fact that US companies consulted on the Great Firewall project, and then sold them the equipment to make it happen — knowing full well what it was intended for.
Here is a series of slides from an internal presentation at Cisco dating back to 2002, as the Great Firewall was being built. The slides discuss its purpose, and you can see on slide #57 that suppression of China’s religious minority, the Falun Gong is directly mentioned.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The only time...

You cant really come with this arguement to China.

Politics means something different in every part of the World:
Int he US it means taxes
In Europe it means social service
In the middle East it means religion
And in Asia it means order
(and in Africa they said: “Politics? Fuck this shit we are going to shot each other)

So you are badmouthing free speech in the eye of the chinese gov and public there…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: censorship

Back this claim up, give us a Reply that you have written that has been blocked and IP that has been blocked and allow us to verify the truth of your claim. You’ve proven in the past that your word can’t be taken at face value so now you need give us an indisputable fact. I would be VERY interested to see if such a claim is true; a shame the source its coming from is a self-professed hater of Mike or else it might carry some more weight

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 censorship

No, the fact is AJ regularly destroyed him and it got too embarrassing for Masnick. So he permanently censored/blocked him.

Exactly what Masnick is complaining about others doing in his post above.

See, this is why Masnick is a laughingstock and mercilessly mocked everywhere.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 censorship

Could you maybe tell me what world you live in, I want to make sure never to visit the place by accident, as the air itself has got to be filled with hallucinogens.

The only people who think AJ ‘regularly destroyed’ Mike, was AJ, and the one or two people who agreed with him, everyone else saw him as the hypocritical child that he was/is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: censorship

Gee, guess what. Most systems for forums and the like would eventually kick things up a notch after the same IP address keeps getting flagged for spam: ban the IP address. Wikipedia does it, for one. Or are you going to rant against Wikipedia too? Newsflash, dummy. If you wanted to make a point ranting “Milky milky chicky chicky” wasn’t the best way to do it. Waste of everyone’s time, including yours. Fuck, if you had posted your collection of Masnick’s booboos years ago, straight up, you might have still had a shred of legitimacy.

average_joe just hates it when due process is enforced. Just like horse with no name, bob, out_of_the_blue, hurricane head, darryl, John Steele, Paul Duffy, Keith Lipscomb, Evan Stone, Andrew Crossley and Brigham Field.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: censorship

AJ, you really need to learn the difference between ‘Blocked due to IP address’ and ‘Comments hidden by other people due to their complete and utter lack of value.’

Also, why do you even try to post without your name, it’s not doing you any good, as everyone knows it’s you right away anyway, and having to come up with ‘new’ names every post has got to be annoying.

horse with no name says:

Re: Re: censorship

Sadly, neither that post or this one is made by Average Joe. Mike is busy blocking out everyone he things is against him, having effectively blocked out my access completely here. I posted from a mobile, just to prove the point – now he will have to block all the mobile IP blocks in Hong Kong as well.

It’s truly sad to see how low Techdirt has gone – and how few of you guys understand it.

Oh, and it’s not “people clicked to report it”, let me repeat it again: When I post, my posts are immediately put into moderation and are NOT shown on the site.

That is censorship, plain and simple. This post will likely get added days after the fact.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: censorship

horse with no name, how much time have you spent your life in Germany? Still refusing to answer that question, I see!

If you guys love triggering the spam filter so much, guess what. You get your binky taken away. That’s just too damn bad, and it sounds so familiar – oh, right. That’s exactly how you feel about people accused of downloading stuff. They get their Internet access taken away. Why don’t the lot of you just crawl back into your caves where you can lick your wounds and privately brag about your e-peens?

Anonymous Coward says:

LOL I’d say 60% of the best pirate dump sites I know of are in China. It’s why I can actually understand quite a bit of their language. After China I’d say Russia is next for some good surfing.

I don’t even surf those sites just for the sole purpose of downloading. It’s just fun to do and it’s an awesome way to find the next new thing that you might love. 95% of all software I legally own has been found through a dump site.

If I like something I’ll buy it because I have no problem supporting shit I enjoy.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t like China’s government’s definition of free speech.

…Actually, that “Internet regulation has to be carried out until those spreading adverse remarks fear the strength of the public interest” bit kinda terrifies me. It sounds like something a mob boss would say while his henchman had a shotgun pressed up against the back of your head, except it’s being applied to an entire country.
Nobody should have to live under that kind of tyranny.

Anonymous Coward says:

you cannot condemn a country for doing something, then do the same thing yourself, without the condemned country using what you are now doing to justify what it was already doing. if the Western countries are too stupid to see that or too damn up their own arses to admit that, they should be replaced with those that are not afraid to admit the facts

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