China Plays Innocent: It's Never Censored The Internet And Arrested Journos Have 'Legal Problems'

from the who-us? dept

For many, many years it's been well established by research reports and people who actually are in China, that the country censors an awful lot of the internet (often referred to as "The Great Firewall" of China). Recent reports have shown that there are tens of thousands of people employed by the Chinese government as part of the program to monitor the internet and internet usage, but that much of the "censorship" is done not by official government decree, but by making it clear that ISPs will get in trouble if they don't block certain sites. That makes it so the ISPs themselves choose what gets blocked, and they do so aggressively, as any failure can cause trouble with the government.

Of course, by passing it off to the ISPs, rather than the government, it lets government officials stand up and make statements denying that there's any internet censorship at all. Instead, the official notes that sometimes people "have trouble accessing" certain sites, but that's "a different problem." When the surprised moderator at that session asked for clarification, the official said there's nothing to clarify since they don't have any restrictions. Of course, it's interesting that right before he says all this, it sounds like he's going down the typical path stated by Chinese officials in the past that the blocking is simply a way to "protect" users, since he says: "We need to also protect tourists in our country. And I have to say that I am a Chinese citizen, and I feel that I need to be protected. For example, we are threatened by terrorism. We do need protection." But then he immediately claims there's no restrictions. As for the issue of arresting journalists who the government is unhappy with, he again brushes that off, saying: "We have hundreds of journalists in China, and some of them have legal problems. It has nothing to do with freedom of expression." Right.

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  1. identicon
    misanthropic humanist, 31 Oct 2006 @ 11:44am

    pot kettle

    Self censorship is not unique to China or obviously repressive regimes. DMCA provisions work in exactly the same way. Content carriers and ISPs are kept in a climate of fear that causes them to self censor. Part of this process is to deliberately obfuscate the law. By making laws so complex, changing them so fast and making sure the courts and judges take an ambiguous position a climate of fear is maintained in which good people who are merely cautious become the unwitting tools of highly oppressive policies. We do the same thing here, in Europe and the USA. We censor but do not have the courage to call it what it is.

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