Russia And China Both Want To 'Protect Children'; Both Want To Do It By Increasing Censorship
from the what-about-protecting-rights? dept
As expected, Russia has passed a law that will allow Web sites to be blacklisted, ostensibly to "protect children". According to this AFP report, the very vague "harmful information" category has been narrowed somewhat, but future threats remain:
Russian newspapers said Wednesday the final version has specified a previously broad term of "harmful information", saying only child pornography, suicide how-to instructions and drugs propaganda can lead to website closure without a trial.
However, an expert on Russia's security services, Andrei Soldatov, said the bill would lead to creation of a mechanism for blocking foreign sites for the first time by forcing Internet providers to install special equipment.
As the UK experience shows, once the technology is in place to block child pornography, say, the calls to deploy it for things like alleged copyright infringement become more insistent.
China, of course, already exercises pretty tight control over all forms of media, but it seems it wants to lock down online activity even more:
China's broadcasting and Internet regulators have told Internet video providers that they must prescreen all programs before making them available, tightening state censorship of increasingly popular online drama series and mini-movies.
Prescreening all uploaded videos might seem a tall order, but it's already going on with some services:
A woman working in the public relations office for Youku, China's most popular online video provider, said Wednesday the new decree had little impact on the company because Youku already has hundreds of prescreeners who examine all content uploaded to the site.
You can probably guess what justification China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) is using for this move:
SARFT said this week in a statement on its website that the rule is in response to the rapid growth in online video programs, some of which it said contain vulgar content, excessive violence or pornography. It said the rule would protect younger people and promote high-quality online programs.
It's so nice to know that governments everywhere are united by this desire to protect children; pity they seem equally united in not caring about the erosion of people's rights through the ever-deepening censorship they apply as a result.