China's internet censor has ordered online AI algorithms to promote 'mainstream values':
Systems should direct users to approved material on subjects like Xi Jinping Thought, or which showcase the country's economic and social development, Cyberspace Administration of China says
They should not recommend content that undermines
national security, or is sexually suggestive, promotes extravagant lifestyles, or hypes celebrity gossip and scandals
The Cyberspace Administration of China released its draft regulations on managing the cyberspace ecosystem on Tuesday in another sign of how the ruling Communist Party is increasingly turning to technology to cement its ideological control over
The proposals will be open for public consultation for a month and are expected to go into effect later in the year.
The latest rules point to a strategy to use AI-driven algorithms to expand the reach and depth of the government's
propaganda and ideology.
The regulations state that information providers on all manner of platforms -- from news and social media sites, to gaming and e-commerce -- should strengthen the management of recommendation lists, trending topics, hot
search lists and push notifications. The regulations state:
Online information providers that use algorithms to push customised information [to users] should build recommendation systems that promote mainstream values,
and establish mechanisms for manual intervention and override.
The Chinese government appears to have launched a major new internet purge, blocking users from accessing The Intercept's website and those of at least seven other Western news organizations.
People in China began reporting that they could not access
the websites of The Intercept, The Guardian, the Washington Post, HuffPost, NBC News, the Christian Science Monitor, the Toronto Star, and Breitbart News.
It is unclear exactly when the censorship came into effect or the reasons for it. But
Tuesday marked the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and Chinese authorities have reportedly increased levels of online censorship to coincide with the event.
On a second front censors at two of China's largest social media
companies appear to have taken aim at independent financial bloggers, as Beijing continues pumping out propaganda to garner public support for its trade dispute with the US.
At least 10 popular financial analysis blogs on social media app WeChat
had all present and past content scrubbed, according to screenshots posted by readers. The Weibo accounts of two non-financial popular bloggers, including Wang Zhian, a former state broadcast commentator who wrote about social issues, were also blocked.
A Chinese VPN user has been fined for accessing overseas websites censored by the government.
Chinese authorities have issued a disciplinary warning to a Guangdong man and ordered him pay a fine of 1,000 yuan (US$164) for setting up (presumably
meaning using) an unauthorised Virtual Private Network (VPN) service to connect to international websites.
The man, surnamed Zhu and from Shaoguan city in Guangdong province, was punished on December 28 because his behaviour violated censorship
Individuals and organisations can only connect to international networks through channels provided by the government, according to regulations listed on the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology's website.
Chinese internet companies have started keeping detailed records of their users' personal information and online activity. The new rules from China's internet censor went into effect Friday.
The new requirements apply to any company that provides
online services which can influence public opinion or mobilize the public to engage in specific activities, according to a notice posted on the Cyber Administration of China's website.
Citing the need to safeguard national security and social
order, the Chinese internet censor said companies must be able to verify users' identities and keep records of key information such as call logs, chat logs, times of activity and network addresses.
Officals will carry out inspections of companies'
operations to ensure compliance. But the Cyber Administration didn't make clear under what circumstances the companies might be required to hand over logs to authorities.
An item mocking China, Xi Jinping and Trump on John Oliver's HBO show Last Week Tonight seems to have wound up China's censors.
HBO's website has been blocked in China and social media censors have been working hard to eliminate
comments about the show.
According to the anti-censorship and monitoring group Greatfire.org, HBO's website was completely blocked within China as of Saturday, days after media reports emerged that Weibo had censored new posts mentioning Oliver or
his HBO show Last Week Tonight.
In the show, Oliver made fun of the Chinese president's apparent sensitivity over comparisons of his figure with that of Winnie the Pooh. Images of the AA Milne character, used to mock Xi, have been censored in
China. Oliver also took a serious tone in the show, criticising Xi for the removal of term limits from the Chinese constitution, the use of political re-education camps in the Muslim province of Xinjiang, and a crackdown on civil society. Oliver noted
the continued house arrest of Liu Xia, wife of Chinese dissident and nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo who died last year while serving an 11-year prison sentence.
The wildly popular children's character Peppa Pig was recently scrubbed from Douyin, a video sharing platform in China , which deleted more than 30,000 clips. The hashtag #PeppaPig was also banned, according to the Global Times, a state-run tabloid
Chinese authorities have claimed that Peppa pig has become associated with low lifes and slackers. The Global Times whinged:
People who upload videos of Peppa Pig tattoos and merchandise and make
Peppa-related jokes run counter to the mainstream value and are usually poorly educated with no stable job. They are unruly slackers roaming around and the antithesis of the young generation the [Communist] party tries to cultivate.
Chinese users of the Twitter-like Weibo have started an online protest with the hashtag I am gay in response to a recent government ban of gay content.
About 170,000 Weibo members had used the protst hashtag by midday Saturday before they were
Weibo announced on Fridaythat it has launched a three-month clean-up campaign to get rid of illegal posts including manga and videos with pornographic implications, promoting violence or (related to) homosexuality. It is also targeting
violent video games, like Grand Theft Auto.
Weibo's move is perceived as a crackdown by President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party on ideas.
There can be no homosexuality under socialism? a Weibo user wrote, according to AFP. It is
unbelievable that China progresses economically and militarily but returns to the feudal era in terms of ideas.
Chinese social media network Sina Weibo has backtracked from a controversial gay content ban after a massive outcry.
Friday the microblogging platform said that posts related to homosexuality would be taken down. It prompted a deluge of posts from outraged netizens protesting against the decision. On Monday, Sina Weibo said it would reverse the ban.
weekend many in the LGBT community took to the network to protest against the decision, using hashtags such as #IAmGay# and #ScumbagSinaHelloIAmGay#.
Some tried testing the ban and uploaded pictures of themselves with partners or gay friends or relatives. Among them was LGBT rights activist Pu Chunmei, whose impassioned post accompanied with pictures of her with her gay son quickly went viral. The
picture was captioned: Be yourself, don't hide.
As of early Monday morning many such posts were still online, as censors appeared to struggle to keep up with the deluge.
Then Sina Weibo made another announcement: it said its clean-up
would no longer apply to homosexual content. We thank everyone for their discussion and suggestions, the company added.
China's VPN ban came into effect on March 31, 2018, but virtual private network providers are still claiming their users have access to their services in the country.
NordVPN has reportied a lack of information from Chinese authorities about
how and when exactly the ban will be implemented. The company also said businesses have reported that so far there have been no announcements from authorities about the ban. The company commented:
We understand the
concern of local and international businesses in China, as well as the needs of scholars, scientists, students, and others who vitally need VPNs to freely access the World Wide Web,
Perhaps the rest of the world would well appreciate
Chinese VPN blocking, it must surely make trade a bit tougher for Chinese companies to be cut off from the world.
China's latest internet censorship laws announced just last week now ban videos that parody TV shows, or distort, mock or defame classical literary and art works.
China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television
(SAPPRFT), the government media censorship body , issued new rules last week -- rules that it labeled extra urgent -- that justify the new censorship of parody videos and re-edited videos.
The ban covers videos that re-edit content from other
works such as classic TV shows and films, according to a report by the news site Quartz.
The new rules appear to have been spurred at least in part by a Chinese news reporter who was captured on camera rolling his eyes during a press conference
held by a government official last week. The eye-roll video went viral and was re-edited into dozens of satirical videos -- before Chinese censors cracked down on the humorous videos, according to a Reuters report on Wednesday .
internet censorship became highly evident during this week's state visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to China. According to media reports out of South Korea, China blocked all searches for such aliases for Kim as Fatty and Fatty the Third.
Articles containing the more straightforward phrase Kim Jong Un visit were also rendered invisible to search engines in China, according to the reports.
Chinese censors are battling to silence criticism of Xi Jinping's bid to set himself to reign over China for the rest of his life.
The Communist party claim that the move is an acknowledgement of overwhelming support for Xi. However, there has been
widespread online push-back in China since it was announced on the eve of an annual political congress in Beijing. So the Chinese censors have ramped up their efforts to stifle discontent with the proposal.
In a blog post, Victor Mair, a
University of Pennsylvania China expert, said censors had taken quick, drastic action after the internet was flooded with complaints. For instance the following earch terms have been blocked on Twitter-like Weibo:
Ten thousand years, used as a term like Long live!
Xi Zedong, a hybrid of the names of Xi and Chairman Mao Zedong
the letter N, for unknown reasons, perhaps even a typo
China has also been aggressive in criticising the west for joining in the debate.
China will begin blocking overseas providers of virtual private networks (VPN) used to circumvent its Great Firewall of government censorship at the end of March, official media reported.
Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) chief
censor Zhang Feng said VPN operators must be licensed by the government, and that unlicensed VPNs are the target of new rules which come into force on March 31. He said that China wants to ban VPNs which unlawfully conduct cross-border operational
Any foreign companies that want to set up a cross-border operation for private use will need to set up a dedicated line for that purpose, he said. They will be able to lease such a line or network legally from the telecommunications
import and export bureau.
Meanwhile, the American Chamber of Commerce in China said it had carried out a recent survey of U.S. companies in the country that showed that the inability to access certain online tools, internet censorship, and
cybersecurity were impeding their operations.
An internet user surnamed Zeng told RFA that the new regulations could also hit any Chinese businesses that need unimpeded communications with the outside world. He explained:
I have a friend who is a businessman, and makes things mainly for export, and this has already affected his order book. He usually uses WhatsApp to communicate [with customers] and now it's very hard to log on, and this has really
affected business. In future, he won't be able to log on at all, so he told me he will likely have to shut down his factory.
China's internet censor has shut down some of the most popular sections of Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform, saying that the website had failed in its duty to censor content.
The Beijing office of the Cyberspace Administration of China
summoned a Weibo executive, complaining of its serious problems including not censoring vulgar and pornographic content. The censor said:
Sina Weibo has violated the relevant internet laws and regulations and spread
illegal information. It has a serious problem in promoting 'wrong' values and has had an adverse influence on the internet environment.
It highlighted as problematic sections of the platform such as the hot topics ranking, most
searched, most searched celebrities and most searched relationship topics, as well as its question-and-answer section.
Other problems on Weibo included allowing posts that discriminated against ethnic minorities and content that was not in line
with what it deemed appropriate social values.
Weibo said it had since shut down a number of services, including its list of top searches, for a week.
China's social media giants are ramping up efforts to get their users to snitch on people circulating taboo content.
China's tech giant Tencent said it was hiring 200 content censors to form what the company is calling a penguin patrol unit, after the
company's penguin mascot. The brigade, made of 10 journalists, 70 writers who use Tencent's content platforms, and 120 regular internet users, will flag content that transgresses China's repressive censorship rules.
Reviewers will be required to
make at least 300 snitch reports each month about transgressive information, including porn, sensational headlines, plagiarism, fake news, or old news. Those who complete the mission will get 30 virtual coins which can be used to purchase items on
Tencent's QQ chat app. Those who fail to meet the reporting quota three times will be booted from the unit.
China's internet censor has ordered two top news feed sites to temporarily suspend parts of their platforms for broadcasting supposedly vulgar content and failing to implement censorship measures.
Toutiao and Phoenix News, which hosts news feeds
similar to Facebook will suspend current affairs and Q&A sections from Friday evening for up to 24 hours, as ordered by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).
The censor claimed that the two platforms broadcast pornographic and vulgar
information, had serious issues of misguiding people, and had an evil influence on the ecosystem of online public discourse.
China recently upped internet recently be demanding that internet that internet news providers had to appoint
state-approved editors. The censors claim the measures are designed to maintain social stability as well as stamp out violence, nudity and fake news.
In a glass tower in a trendy part of China's eastern city of Tianjin, hundreds of young people sit in front of computer screens, scouring the internet for videos and messages that run counter to Communist Party doctrine
Chinese internet censors have handed down maximum fines to the operators of three major social-media platforms in the country for failing to deal with pornography, violence and other banned content on their sites. The affected platforms are Baidu's
online forum Tieba, microblogging site Weibo and Tencent's massively popular social app WeChat.
The Cyberspace Administration of China issued a notice saying the companies were fined for failing to fulfill their management duties in dealing with
pornographic and violent content, as well as information that promotes ethnic hatred.
Separately, Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp seemed to be functioning properly after it earlier appeared to have been blocked again on the
mainland. However WhatsApp was totally blocked again a few days later.
In recent months, China has raised the pressure on the country's internet space in what some say is an attempt to exert control in the lead up to the Communist Party
Congress next month.
Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo has said that it wants to hire a team of social media vigilantes to help identify and stamp out supposedly 'inappropriate' online content. The company said the scheme was designed to
strengthen supervision of netizens and to more effectively rid the platform of what it referred to as pornographic, illegal, and harmful information.
Those selected for what appear to be part-time roles will be compensated for their efforts if
they achieve certain monthly targets, such as reporting at least 200 valid cases of inappropriate content. These supervisors will be given VIP membership, paid 200 yuan ($30) in online credits, and may qualify to receive a special orange electronic badge
displayed on their Weibo accounts.
For social media sleuths whose prowess at sniffing out undesirable content ranks them among the company's top 10 supervisors, the rewards will be even greater, potentially including Apple smartphones and laptops.
Weibo said it was introducing the program in response to guidelines issued by the Beijing office of the Cyberspace Administration of China. On Monday, the same office announced that it had fined Weibo and other online platforms for neglecting to
prevent users from spreading pornographic content and ethnic hate speech.
Allegedly Islamophobic terms used by Chinese Internet users to stigmatize Muslims have been censored by authorities on Chinese social media amid a backlash against national policies considered overly favorable to Muslim minorities.
green religion and peaceful religion , often used by Internet users to refer to Islam and to circumvent censorship of online speech, showed no results on China's Weibo microblog. Posts containing the phrases cannot be posted for violations of
Weibo's complaints related rules. Worse insults against Islam are also blocked in Weibo's search engine.
Discontent and fears of Muslims have been on the rise on China's Internet in recent years. There is unease at Chinese authorities'
discrimination policies in favour of ethnic minorities, especially Muslim groups.
To achieve national unity and social stability , ethnic minorities including Hui and Uyghur people enjoy favorable policies including receiving extra points
in China's college entrance examinations, more lenient family planning policies and securing a certain ratio of positions in government. The favorable policies are aimed at helping ethnic minorities who lag behind in economic and educational development.
They are intended to accelerate development toward greater ethnic unity, Xiong said.
A man who sold VPN software via a website has been sentenced to nine months in prison by China's Supreme People's Court. The decision otes that the software supplied by the man allowed the public to circumvent China's Great Firewall while granting access
to foreign websites.
Back in January, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that it would take measures to strengthen network information security management and would embark on a nationwide Internet network access services
One of the initial targets was reported as censorship-busting VPNs, which allow citizens to evade the so-called Great Firewall of China. Operating such a service without a corresponding telecommunications business license would
constitute an offense, the government said.
Then early July, a further report suggested that the government would go a step further by ordering ISPs to block VPNs altogether. Apple then banned VPN software and services from its app store.
With an effort clearly underway to target VPNs, news today from China suggests that the government is indeed determined to tackle the anti-censorship threat presented by such tools. According to local media, Chinese man Deng Mouwei who ran a small
website through which he sold VPN software, has been sentenced to prison. He set up a website to sell VPNs. Just two products were on offer but this was enough to spring authorities into action.
As of October 1, 2017, Chinese netizens who have not registered their user accounts with online platforms under a new real name system will not be able to post comments on online content, while bans await trouble-makers.
The Regulation on the Management of Internet Comments
was announced by the Cyberspace Administration of China on August 25. The regulation specifies that platforms that provide services for netizens to comment on original content, including films, posts, online games or news, should force users to
provide their authentic identity via an individual user account system before posting. Platform operators should not offer such services to those who have not verified their identity.
The regulation will dramatically reduce space
for online comments as large number of unauthenticated users will not be able to write original posts and leave comments. Moreover, many platforms will be unable to bear the burden of the identity verification system.
Article 2 of the regulation, commenting services refer to websites, mobile applications, interactive platforms, news sites, and other social platforms that allow or facilitate users to create original content, reply to posts, leave comments on news
threads or other items in the form of written text, symbols, emojis, images, voice messages or video.
The responsibilities of comment service operators, according to Article 5, include the verification of user identities, the
setting up of a comment management system to pre-screen comments on news, preventing the spread of illegal information and reporting comments to the authorities.
Controversially, the regulation also specifies in Article 9 that
comment service operators should manage their users by rating their social credit, an algorithm to measure a person's overall 'goodness' as a citizen.
Those with low credit should be blacklisted from posting and prevented from
registering new accounts to use the service. At the same time, state, province and city-level cyberspace affairs offices will set up a management system to evaluate the overall social credit of comment service operators on a regular basis.
The Orwellian social credit system for regulating internet users' activities was revealed in 2014 and the Chinese government authorized a number of credit service agencies to collect, evaluate and manage peoples's credit information
the following year.
According to the Chinese government's Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System , the system aims to measure and enhance 'trust' between and among government, commercial sectors and
citizens and to strengthen sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, social sincerity and the construction of judicial credibility. However, the allocation of individual credit is not transparent and the current regulation on comment
services indicates that individual online speech is a key factor in its calculation.
Thus far only national and large-scale social media and content service operators have implemented real name registration and they have not
introduced measures to penalize unauthenticated users beyond limiting the circulation of their posts.
The majority of small-to-medium-size local websites and forums have not implemented real name registration because they simply
don't have the capital and infrastructure to do so. The new regulation compels such websites to shut down their interactive features.
Tech-blogger William Long who has discussed the issue with regulators in the past wrote in his
I have discussed with the relevant authorities how small forums and websites can implement real name registration. Their view is, they can either shut the comment section down or ask their users to verify their
identity by providing mobile phone verification codes.
Owners of small websites can only afford a few hundred yuan to hire a server. The cost of mobile verification is RMB 6 cents per message. They would have to spend RMB 6 yuan
per 100 comments. If their competitors deliberately overload them by posting a few thousand comments a day, they will not be able to afford the cost [of verification]. In the end they will be forced to ban comments.
New censorship rules issued by Bejing will prohibit portrayals of homosexuality, prostitution and drug addiction in online videos. The China Netcasting Services Association (CNSA) is targeting what they consider abnormal sexual activity.
which were issued on Friday demand that online video platforms hire at least three professional censors. They were ordered to view entire programmes and take down any considered not sticking to the correct political and aesthetic standards.
who don't adhere to the new rules face being reported to the police for further investigation, according to Xhinua state news agency.
The Chinese government has issued new censorship rules extending its repressive control over online news content.
Companies that publish, share or edit news will need a government licence, and senior editors must be approved by the authorities.
Other staff will be required to undergo government training and assessment, and receive official accreditation.
The legislation will bring online news providers into line with traditional news media operating in the country.
From 1 June,
when the rules come into force, they will be expected to follow information security protocols , including emergency response measures such as increased vetting following disasters.
The list of providers and platforms covered
includes websites, applications, forums, blogs, microblogs, public accounts, instant messaging tools and internet broadcasts .
Organisations that do not have a licence will not be allowed to post news or commentary about the government,
economy, military, foreign affairs, or other areas of public interest .
China has banned its internet users from sharing on the social media videos about current events that are not from official sources, media reports said.
The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (China), in a
notice, said Chinese social media platforms WeChat and Weibo were not allowed to disseminate user-generated audio or video programmes about current events.
The news landed quietly among China's internet users, with only a handful discussing the
new rules on Weibo, many seemingly resigned to ever increasing censorship.
China has passed a new internet censorship law mopping up a few more prohibitions somehow overlooked by previous censorship laws.
The legislation takes away the last vestiges of anonymity for China's 710 million internet users, and ensures that
the state has the right to censor certain types of content -- or even shut down large sections of the local internet -- in the name of national security.
Internet users must not engage in such activities as the overturn of the socialist system,
disseminating violent, obscene or sexual information, or disseminating false information to disrupt the economic or social order.
All network operating companies in China will have to store users' logs for six months and pass a
security check if they want to take that data outside national borders. They must also give technical support and assistance to public security organs and state security organs, when preserving national security and investigating crimes.
China has replaced its internet censor, Lu Wei, the hard-liner responsible for an effectively oppressive censorship system.
Lu wielded expansive powers as head of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs since 2014, dictating what 700 million
Chinese Internet users may view online and acting as gatekeeper for technology companies wishing to do business in China.
His successor will be his deputy, former propaganda official Xu Lin, the official Xinhua News Agency has reported. Lu will
keep his concurrent position as deputy head of the party's propaganda department.
Observers believe that the general direction of Chinese technology policy will not change under the Xi administration.
China has released a new set of oppressive rules that require all mobile app users as well as the App Store to have a real name registration and to maintain activity logs from users for a period of 60 days.
According to Reuters , the Cyberspace
Administration of China (CAC) wants to get a full censorship grip on the rapidly expanding app market.
According to the South China Morning Post, the new rules cover information services through mobile Internet apps as well as app store
services on the Chinese mainland.
Based on the new rules, users are required to register their real names with the app provider before they will be allowed a public alias or username.
The app provider then verifies all the information
collected by mobile numbers or any other means. They are also required to regulate accounts or user profiles that violate the rules on the publishing anything that the state does not like.
A anonymous app operator commented to the South
China Morning Post:
Many users like to comment on social and political news on live-streaming and news apps. Now they will need to think twice before making any comment that authorities could claim spurred public
scares or rumors.
Eating a banana in an erotic manner while being broadcast on live-streams has been banned in China. Wearing stockings and suspenders during a live-stream is also now prohibited.
Hosts of the live-streaming sites are now required to monitor all
their output every minute of the day, but it is not clear how they will be able to enforce the ban.
The move comes a month after the Ministry of Culture announced it was investigating several live-streaming sites, including Douyu, Panda.tv, YY,
Zhanqi TV, and Huya, for allegedly hosting pornographic or violent content that harms social morality .
The move has bemused many social media users, with some wondering how authorities decide what is seductive . How do they
decide what's provocative when eating a banana? one person asked, according to the BBC . Another wondered: Can male live-streamers still eat them?
Fang Binxing is known as the 'father' of Chine's repressive censorship infrastructure known as the Great Firewall of China. He has been caught evading his own monstrosity during an institute lecture on South Korean internet censorship.
According to local reports, Binxing attempted to display a South Korea website, which he said showed the views of South Koreans attempting to build similar infrastructure to China's firewall, but was blocked by said censorship system. Fang then had to resort to setting up a virtual private network (VPN) to circumvent the censorship, in full view of the lecture attendees, to display the site.
Ming Pao, a Hong Kong-newspaper, said that the university terminated a planned discussion session after Fang was criticised within the lecture and later resoundingly mocked online for having to circumvent his own creation, labelling it as an
embarrassing display of the Chinese mainland's censorship regime
China's chief internet censor has ludicrously claimed that the country's oppressive censorship of th einternet is merely 'management' of the internet.
The comments by Lu Wei, head of the Cyberspace Administration of China, came ahead of next
week's state-sponsored World Internet Conference in the town of Wuzhen. Lu claimed that China does not censor but manages Internet content, the Hong Kong Free Press reports:
Lu said: It is a misuse of
words if you say 'content censorship. But no censorship does not mean there is no management. The Chinese government learnt how to manage the internet from Western developed countries, we have not learnt enough yet.
briefing, Lu defended the blocking of some websites and censoring of online posts, according to Reuters . He said that if the Chinese government were being too restrictive with the Internet, China's online market would not be experiencing such rapid
The Chinese government is trying a new technique to censor and ban mobile users that evade internet censorship in China, specifically the far west territory of Xinjiang.
Foreign messaging apps' users in China's Xinjiang territory such as WhatsApp have
had their phone service shut down entirely, according to the New York Times. A text message was sent preceding the shutdown. It said that the user's cellphone number will be shut down within the next two hours in accordance with the law.
users of the downloaded foreign messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Telegram but also people employing virtual private networks (VPNs) to cloak their locations to get access to banned websites and those who failed to register their account with the proper
identification were reported in the police station.
Xinjiang is the region experiencing terrorism related to separatists from the Muslim Uyghur ethnic groups in the region. The region has been subject to extreme censorship before, with the
internet totally shut down for 6 months in 2009.
China has been thinking up a nasty twist to their surveillance society predicted to result in a significant increase in internet censorship. It is called Internet Plus and combines repressive censorship and content monitoring with social media
style aggregation of people's internet life.
At the core of China's Internet agenda lies the so-called social credit system . This system, which is currently in the planning phase, seeks to leverage the explosion in personal data generated
through smartphones, apps and online transactions in order to improve citizens' behaviour.
According to a planning document published by the State Council last year , its objective is to improve sincerity in government affairs, commerce and
Individuals and businesses will be scored on various aspects of their conduct -- where you go, what you buy and who you know -- and these scores will be integrated within a comprehensive database that not only links into
government information, but also to data collected by private businesses. An individual's credit score might then be used in granting or withholding particular social services, or being made available to employers.
The State Council plan, for
instance, mentions rumor-mongering as an example of behavior to be sanctioned and recorded. It is this part of the plan that has led many commentators to describe it as an Orwellian tool of individual control.
China's public security ministry is pressing ahead with repressive moves to force more of the country's 668 million netizens to use their real names and a digital ID card online.
The move is part of a raft of Internet controls enshrined in the draft
Cybersecurity Law being debated in China's parliament.
While officials claim the new system will improve the security of users' personal data and help fight cybercrime, online activists say it is yet another way for the ruling Chinese Communist
Party to keep tabs on who is saying what online.
An online activist nicknameed Xiaofei Riyetan told RFA:
The overall aim of the Chinese Communist Party is to further tighten control on dissidents,
including democracy activists. This will add greater weight to their attempts to accuse these people of crimes, and enable them to lock them up in the name of the rule of law.
He said recent surveys showing that netizens feel less
safe online than they did previously have more to do with a sense that everything they do or say is being watched, than with cybercrime. The activist said:
The crackdown on dissents has got worse and worse since
[President] Xi Jinping came to power. The space for free expression is getting smaller and smaller, and ever more tightly managed; that's why we feel more and more unsafe, he said.
China is planning to set up censorship offices in major internet companies and for websites so authorities can move more quickly against internet content that it does not like, the ministry of public security said in a statement. The deputy minister,
Chen Zhimin, told a conference:
Police should take a leading role in online security and work closely with internet regulators. We will set up network security offices inside important website and internet firms, so
that we can catch criminal behaviour online at the earliest possible point.
The government published a draft cybersecurity law last month consolidating its control over data, with significant potential consequences for internet
companies and multinational firms doing business in the country. The law will strengthen user privacy protection from hackers and data resellers but elevates the government's powers to obtain records on, and block dissemination of, private information
The Twitter-like popular Chinese microblogging platform Weibo has just announced it will censor posts featuring images of women in lingerie or swimwear, as part of an effort to erase erotic images.
The move, announced by CEO Wang Gaofei, is
seen as Weibo's move to comply with larger restrictions proposed by the government against vulgar and pornographic content circulating online.
Wang said that 'modeling agencies' that posted images of [models] in swimwear or black lace
would be removed from accounts effective immediately. On Weibo, modeling agency is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of services and businesses.
'Modeling agencies' who want to continue to have a social media presence on the
website must submit accreditation and other identification of a legitimate business. Those who do not go through this approval process will be banned from the site.
China's government has threatened to shut down Sina , one of the country's most popular news websites unless it improves censorship , state media reported via the Xinhua news agency. Sina is the fourth most visited website in China, according to
ranking service Alexa.
The censors whose job it is to officially distort news facts, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), claimed that Sina:
Distorted news facts, violated morality and engaged in media
The CAC will seriously punish Sina, with possible measures including a complete shut down of its Internet news services , Xinhua added.
The report did not provide specifics on which of Sina's news offerings
had fallen foul of censors, but said the CAC accused Sina of spreading illegal information related to rumors, violence and terrorism , and advocation of heresies .
The open source code sharing depository, GitHub, has been put under a prolonged distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack seemingly from China.
It seems likely that the attack were targeting GitHub projects that help circumvent the Great Firewall of
are built to cope with the massive load.
Anti-censorship campaign group Greatfire.org said in a blog post the attacks are an effort to shut down its GitHub-hosted project , and an extension of an attack on anti-censorship groups by Chinese
Greatfire goes on to point the finger for the attacks directly to the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC). The group argues that the CAC is deliberately trying to weaponize its Great Firewall to perform international attacks. The
Greatfire team wrote:
This is a frightening development and the implications of this action extend beyond control of information on the internet. In one quick movement, the authorities have shifted from enforcing
strict censorship in China to enforcing Chinese censorship on internet users worldwide.
China has upgraded the website-blocking systems, dubbed The Great Firewall, so it can blast foreign businesses and organisations off the internet.
Researchers hailing from the University of Toronto, the International Computer
Science Institute, the University of California Berkeley, and Princeton University, have confirmed that China is hijacking web traffic and redirecting advert server requests so as to overpower sites critical of the authoritarian state.
This weaponized firewall has been dubbed the Great Cannon by the researchers, and typically hijacks requests to Baidu's advertising network in China. Anyone visiting a website that serves ads from Baidu, for example, could end up
unwittingly silencing a foreign site disliked by the Chinese authorities.
A campaign organisation that circumvents Chinese website blocks has said it has come under a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) instigated by the Chinese authorities.
Greatfire called the attack an attempt to enforce censorship and noted
in a tweet:
China internal docs show military, Ministries of State & Public Security and rogue operators used to wage cyberwar
Greatfire has tracked which sites are blocked in China and recently
began offering a mirroring service to try to restore them for Chinese users. Similar to the campaign started by Reporters Without Borders last week, it set up content distribution networks (CDNs) using the same hosting services as many entities on which
China relies. In a statement published on its website, Greatfire said the attacks started on 17 March and added:
We are receiving up to 2.6 billion requests per hour which is about 2,500 times more than normal levels.
Likely in response to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) , we've experienced our first ever distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.
In theory, the method provided protection to Greatfire because, to be sure that the
blocked websites remained inaccessible, attackers would have to take down the whole hosting service - including many sites that China wanted to remain live. However, in practice, the attackers managed to find the individual URLs of the sites the
authorities sought to block and bombarded them, in a more targeted attack, said Prof Alan Woodward of the University of Surrey. He added that keeping the sites online would require the purchase of more bandwidth, adding that he consequently believed the
Chinese authorities wanted to put financial pressure on Greatfire.
China is blocking VPN services that let users skirt online censorship of popular websites such as Google and Facebook.
The virtual private network provider Golden Frog wrote on its blog that the controls have hit a wide swath of VPN services. The
popular provider Astrill informed its users this week that the controls have started hitting iPhone access to services such as Gmail this year.
China-based entrepreneur Richard Robinson said the controls have particularly hurt small- and
medium-sized foreign companies that depend on VPNs. Many larger companies can afford direct connections to servers outside the country, he said.
Over the past weeks, Chinese censors have already blocked what remaining access there is to Gmail and
other Google products. Google services have been periodically blocked or limited since 2010 when the company said it would no longer co-operate with China's censors. Robinson explained:
These smaller businesses,
they're dependent on Gmail. And it's all in the Google services that people are really screwed.
Xiao Qiang, a professor with UC Berkeley's School of Information gave a little insight into the stepped up censorship.
We all know that China is in the middle of a very ferocious power struggle or political cleansing under the name of an anti-corruption campaign, Xiao said. That to me is a very clearly related fact with the amount of political rumours
and information related to China's high politics showing up in websites outside of China.
And while the controls hurt businesses that depend on online information and tools, Chinese censors are more worried about restricting
Not all hope is lost for Chinese users trying to get around the Great Firewall. In fact, the block has affected only popular, commercial VPNs such as Astrill,
StrongVPN and Golden Frog. Other alternative, less widespread tools, such as Psiphon, Lantern, Tor, and other VPN services, in fact, remain active. Moreover, on Friday, two of the affected VPNs announced that they were able to fight back and restore
their services, at least partially.
China has always had the ability to block at least some VPN traffic, according to experts consulted by Mashable, so the reasons behind this latest crackdown might be political. And perhaps it was something to do
with the VPNs getting a little cocky. Astrill, a service that suffered disruptions, seemed to mock China's censorship system just last week.
Perhaps, this was all just a warning to VPNs operating in China, just a way for the Chinese government to
assert its power and show that, if they want, they can block some of these services. Tools like Psiphon and Lantern were perhaps spared by obfuscation techniques, which makes it harder for censors to detect the use of these tools. Other VPNs, if they
haven't already, will have to follow suit in a seemingly never-ending cat and mouse game.
Transparency group GreatFire.org is working with the BBC to deliver the news organization's Chinese-language reporting to people censored by the country's Great Firewall.
The Chinese government has been censoring BBC China content for years and also
began blocking most of the English-language version last month during pro-democracy rallies in Hong Kong. But working with GreatFire.org should increase the availability of BBC content in China. The group uses a method it calls collateral freedom to serve content through a network of mirror sites that the group claims is
The idea is to host the mirror sites through services that are so ubiquitous that it would be difficult, even for China to justify blocking the entire domain. GreatFire.org uses hosting options like Amazon Web Services to keep
its mirror sites going.
GreatFire.org explained that its partnership with the BBC is specifically pegged to elections in Taiwan on Nov. 29. The goal is to present diverse information that's written in Chinese for Chinese audiences. As
GreatFire.org points out, a lot of English speakers in China already use VPNs and other workarounds to access foreign media, but if they don't know how to do this or speak only Chinese, these backdoors don't help much.
Messaging app Line started has increased censorship in China by adding more keywords to its region-based block list.
However researchers have revealed an increased sophistication to the system making it less noticeable to users, as edgecastcdn.net
reported. The censorship software now allows users to use these words separately but not in phrases. Similar techniques have also been implemented in social media sites such as Weibo.
Censorship becomes more meticulous and does not block
everything completely, said Wu Qianhua, researcher at the university. He said he thinks the new tactic is helping the regime. For example, under the new system, users could send messages that include Xinjiang or independence , but not
two at the same time:
If you only hide a small part, instead of everything that is relative to a certain topic, then fewer people would be affected by censorship and more will be interested to talk about topics such as
Xinjiang in a 'legal' way, Wu said. But when you hide everything, people will be more curious about how the censorship works and why it exists.
The researchers found out that if users set China as their country, the app's censorship
functionality will be triggered and automatically download a bad words list from a website named Naver . However, users could also learn from a post on the lab's website on how to change their location settings and bypass the region-focused
system that applies to China.
China's government has tightened its control over the Internet so much recently that businesses, researchers and ordinary people are finding it hard to complete basic and innocuous tasks, like placing ads on websites, sharing documents and reading
technical documents. It seems the government of President Xi Jinping is so determined to crack down on dissent that it is even willing to stifle commerce and scientific research.
The country has imposed burdensome controls on the Internet in
recent months by blocking online libraries, text messaging applications and cloud computing services, including those provided by American companies like Google. For example, the government has made it very hard to use web services that were previously
available, like Google Drive, which many businesses use to share documents among employees. And virtual private networks that allow employees to log on to their corporate servers remotely have also come under attack.
The tougher line will
certainly make it harder for foreign companies to do business in China -- one American executive told The Times the new controls were a frustrating and annoying drain on productivity.
Most Chinese people and businesses, however, cannot
easily get around these controls. They will have a harder time getting access to information stored on foreign computer servers or communicating with people outside China.
A U.S.-based search engine that had been gaining popularity in China for its privacy-protected search results has become a target of Chinese censors.
According to Tech In Asia , a technology news blog, Chinese authorities have not only blocked
access to DuckDuckGo from Chinese servers, but they even appear to be censoring any mentions of the search engine online as well.
Founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg explained that DuckDuckGo is a search engine that boasts real privacy by not
collecting or sharing personal information from its users. On Weinberg's personal blog , he goes into a little bit more depth about how important Internet privacy is to him, even opting out of the commonly used Google services, not only because
they are competition but because he believes in privacy policies that do the minimum collection needed as opposed to the maximum collection possible.
A research article has appeared in the journal Science . It is titled Reverse-engineering censorship in China: Randomized experimentation and participant observation by Gary King, Jennifer Pan and Margaret E. Roberts.
reveals that the censorship of people's social media posting is more about preventing organised protests than censoring personal opinions:
Chinese censorship of individual social media posts occurs at two levels:
(i) Many tens of thousands of censors, working inside Chinese social media firms and government at several levels, read individual social media posts, and decide which ones to take down.
(ii) They also
read social media submissions that are prevented from being posted by automated keyword filters, and decide which ones to publish.
To study the first level, we devised an observational study to download published Chinese social media posts before the government could censor them, and to revisit each from a worldwide network of computers to see which was censored.
To study the second level, we conducted the first large scale experimental study of censorship by creating accounts on numerous social media sites throughout China, submitting texts with different randomly assigned content to each, and detecting from a
worldwide network of computers which ones were censored.
To find out the details of how the system works, we supplemented the typical current approach (conducting uncertain and potentially unsafe confidential interviews with
insiders) with a participant observation study, in which we set up our own social media site in China. While also attempting not to alter the system we were studying, we purchased a URL, rented server space, contracted with Chinese firms to acquire the
same software as used by existing social media sites, and---with direct access to their software, documentation, and even customer service help desk support---reverse engineered how it all works.
Criticisms of the state, its leaders, and their policies are routinely published, whereas posts with collective action potential are much more likely to be censored---regardless of whether they are for or against the state (two
concepts not previously distinguished in the literature). Chinese people can write the most vitriolic blog posts about even the top Chinese leaders without fear of censorship, but if they write in support of or opposition to an ongoing protest---or even
about a rally in favor of a popular policy or leader---they will be censored.
We clarify the internal mechanisms of the Chinese censorship apparatus and show how changes in censorship behavior reveal government intent by presaging
their action on the ground. That is, it appears that criticism on the web, which was thought to be censored, is used by Chinese leaders to determine which officials are not doing their job of mollifying the people and need to be replaced.
Chinese reports about a giant inflatable toad have been deleted from the Internet after social media users compared the puffed-up animal to former President Jiang Zemin.
A 22-metre-high toad, appeared in a Beijing park last weekend, but after much
mockery, the website of China's official Xinhua news agency and popular web portal Sina had deleted their reports on the animal.
A spokesman for Yuyuantan park in Beijing said there were no immediate plans to remove the toad.
Chinese internet giant Tencent has closed 20 million accounts on its messaging app WeChat, 5% of the total, because they supposedly offered prostitution services, according to Chinese state media, who dubbed the campaign operation Thunder Strike. +
Last month, when announcing that messaging app platforms like WeChat and others would be cooperating, Chinese authorities threatened that police would hold service providers responsible if they do not fulfill their duty. +
qz.com speculates that the action may be more to do with reminding the country's growing privately owned internet companies to toe the government line. Pursuing prostitution may simply be the
best way to rein in the most successful social media giants. The fact that millions of Chinese internet users are turning to WeChat to post their thoughts, chat, and keep up with the news may be one reason for more scrutiny. China's censorship regime is
still figuring out how to keep tabs on the increasingly popular chat app, which is taking internet users away from the microblog Weibo, a platform authorities have spent years monitoring and censoring relatively successfully.
The Chinese government has revealed an expansion of internet censorship with a new training programme for the estimated two million opinion monitors Beijing organised last year.
Training will target the whole range of state workers
including law enforcement, academia and state businesses.
The training course will reportedly cost 6,800 yuan ($1,108) and graduates will receive a certificate according to one of five levels -- assistant analyst, analyst, senior analyst, manager
and senior manager. The test will take three hours and participants will be required to take a refresher course at a later date.
Once trained, monitors will supervise the posting of social media messages, deleting those that are
deemed harmful. Beijing claims to have deployed advanced filtering technology to identify problematic posts, and will need to rapidly filter out false, harmful, incorrect, or even reactionary information, according to state press agency
Alongside the announcement about the training course, the government emphasised its concern over the spreading of rumours, which have recently become a euphemism for political discussion, including possible corruption of senior
officials online. Those who spread rumors would be severely punished, the statement confirmed.
The design of the WeChat website meant that free speech was for a while preserved because messages between users remained relatively private and insulated from the wider internet. But Beijing wasn't impressed.
GreatFire.org's Free Weibo, a tool that allows you to search and find censored tweets on China's popular microblogging platform, Sina Weibo, was temporarily made available in the Apple apps store in China after being previously blocked.
who along with Martin Johnson created Great Fire, a website that monitor's censorship in China explained that Great Fire had recently updated the app, which threw the Apple censors off for a short period of time. But only a day later, the app was
The app is only blocked in the Chinese Apple store but it can be downloaded everywhere else. Furthermore, says Smith, those who were able to download Free Weibo before it was blocked are still able to use the app, problem-free.
Apple has censored a number of applications before, most recently a popular censorship circumvention tool called OpenDoor, usually pulling them quietly without much warning. With Open Door, the developers learned about the censorship only after users
brought it to their attention.
More than two million people in China are employed by the government as internet censors or propagandaists.
The Beijing News says the censors, described as internet opinion analysts , are on state and commercial payrolls.
The report by
the Beijing News said that these monitors were not required to delete postings. They are strictly to gather and analyse public opinions on microblog sites and compile reports for decision-makers .
Tang Xiaotao has been working as a monitor
for less than six months, the report says, without revealing where he works.
He sits in front of a PC every day, and opening up an application, he types in key words which are specified by clients.
He then monitors negative opinions related to the clients, and gathers (them) and compile reports and send them to the clients.
China rarely reveals any details concerning the scale and sophistication of its
internet police force. It is believed that the two million internet monitors are part of a huge army which the government relies on to control the internet.
A Chinese media censor has threatened to shut down mobile apps that don't comply with repressive government restrictions.
The State Internet Information Office claimed that some mobile apps were vehicles for pornography and obscene information, and
harm the physical and mental health of youngsters .
The censorship will also affect apps that provide access to foreign news outlets blocked by Chinese authorities.
Under fire are apps like Zaker, China's most popular news aggregator
with 17.5 million users, and Chouti, whose slogan is Publish what shouldn't be published . While the government has previously urged service providers to self-regulate to avoid the spreading of rumours , this latest more hard-line
approach is a sign of diminishing patience.
From today, the government will shut down and ban any apps that fail to maintain order in news dissemination on the mobile Internet .
In the last two months, over 1,000 people have been
arrested in China for crimes related to internet use. [ This equates to 4.4 arrests per million population per year. This compares with 28.3 arrests per million population per year in the UK (for just malicious
[I guess that if the size of the population is taken into account, this could be less than number of internet arrests in Britain].
Apple Duly Purges
Anti-Censorship Browser from China App Store
The strict regime of Internet censorship and surveillance enforced by the Chinese authorities drives many Internet users to seek out tools they can use to get around the restrictions, programs like OpenDoor, a browser that was available recently from
the App Store in China.
Until Apple removed it.The removal of OpenDoor follows a pattern of Apple bowing to pressure from Chinese authorities, removing content from the Chinese version of its App Store to conform to the regime's demands for
censorship. The removal took place in July of this year, according to the Chinese edition of Radio Netherlands Worldwide.
OpenDoor has 800,000 users on Apple devices; one third of them were or are from China, according to OpenDoor developers.
Users from Iran and Pakistan, states that also practice Internet censorship, give the app high praise on its Facebook page.
Reporters Without Borders takes note of a report in today's South China Morning Post revealing that leading foreign social networks and news websites will be accessible in the Shanghai free trade zone that is to be inaugurated at the end of the month.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a government source told the newspaper that, as an experiment, the authorities were on the point of allowing access to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and the New York Times website in the Shanghai
business district of Pudong, where the free trade zone will be located.
Reporters Without Borders said:
By taking this decision, the Chinese government is acknowledging that Internet censorship is bad for
business. We regret that this lifting of censorship will apply to just a limited part of the country and that the reasons behind it are purely economic.
Targeted mainly at foreigners, this measure will probably not benefit the
Chinese population. It should be extended to all Chinese Internet users, who are now the victims of discrimination in access to information.
As in the Hong Kong free trade zone, the Chinese authorities want the Shanghai free trade
zone to attract foreign telecommunications companies that will offer their Internet connection services to companies based in the zone. The restrictions on Internet access are being lifted with the chief aim of attracting additional foreign investment,
and the measure will apply only to an area of some 30 square kilometres centred on Pudong.
Update: Just a rumour. Censorship continues unabated
China's regime doesn't want visitors reading The New York Times after all, even in the free trade zone.
The People's Daily is disputing those initial reports, insisting that internet management measures inside the Shanghai zone will be
identical to those elsewhere in China. The state-run media outlet also emphasized that the government plans to clamp down on any pornography, gambling, drugs, and smuggling within the Shanghai free trade zone, according to The Register.
China has unveiled repressive new measures to stop the spread of what the government calls irresponsible rumours, threatening offenders with three years in jail if untrue posts online are widely reposted, drawing an angry response from Chinese internet
China is in the middle of yet another crackdown on what it terms online rumours , as the government tries to further repress social media and the discussion of politics.
According to a judicial interpretation issued by China's
top court and prosecutor, people will be charged with defamation if online rumours they create are visited by 5,000 internet users or reposted more than 500 times. That could lead to three years in jail.
Users of China's popular Twitter-like Sina
Weibo microblogging site expressed anger about the new rules. It's far too easy for something to be reposted 500 times or get 5,000 views. Who is going to dare say anything now? wrote one Weibo user.
Over 100 illegal websites have been shut down by Chinese authorities since early May. Many believe that the crackdown is aimed at independent watchdog sites in mainland China.
According to the State Internet Information Office, the 107
websites were shut down for failing to obtain official permission to establish and run sites, allegedly blackmailing government and corporate officials, and using terms such as China and people in their names.
However the Chinese
authorities didn't mention the onerous expense and conditions that make it nearly impossible for small websites to actually obtain such permission.
For individuals or small groups wanting to start their own websites, these regulations create
large, often insurmountable obstacles. Many do not have the resources to comply with government requests for content removal and user data, which can easily become a full-time job for one or more people. Others are unable to obtain the costly business
licenses needed to apply for an online content provider license.
To get around these bureaucratic procedures, some choose to affiliate themselves with established institutions or corporations so that they can register as a web-branch of a
legitimate entity. Currently, there are many privately-run websites registered as web-branches of established institutions. A crackdown on these web-branches would be disastrous.
A handful of sites on the crackdown list are indeed
linked to corporate extortion. But most of the so-called blackmailing activities are citizen initiatives that uncover corruption of government officials and party members.
Websites that use terms such as people , China and Chinese
to name themselves are considered fraudulent and thus deemed illegal . The Chinese authorities claimed that websites such as People's Voices or People's shopping , People's News mislead the public, giving the false
impression that these sites are affiliated with the Party's mouthpiece, the People's Daily.
Among the sites recently taken down are several devoted to citizen legal rights and anti-corruption efforts, including China Legal Rights Net, Xiaoxiang
Anti-corruption Forum, Legal Rights Defense Net, China Legal System Monitor, People's Rights Monitor, Legal Report, People's Petition, and many other similar organizations.
China has censored an image of Winnie the Pooh strolling with Tigger, after it went viral on popular Chinese microblogging site, Sina Weibo.
The image was circulated after bloggers noticed the similarities between a photo snapped this week of
President Barack Obama and Chinese premier Xi Jinping and an illustration of the cartoon characters.
China is reported to be trying to be more subtle in its internet censorship and is trying to hide it a bit.
In the past, a search for keywords in China related to the events of June 4, 1989 at Tiananmen Square, came up with a message saying:
According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, search results for Tiananmen Square can not be displayed.
GreatFire.org said in the lead up to the anniversary of the massacre certain searches,
such as June 4 incident , had been intermittently returning a series of carefully selected results , though it was impossible to click through to the actual webpages. GreatFire.org said searches for Tiananmen incident returned links
to an unrelated happening in the square from 1976.
The organisation said this was an example of censorship at its worst , with users duped into believing the keyword they were searching for was not a sensitive topic. It said the changes
were not applied consistently, concluding that the authorities were conducting tests on the new approach.
China has launched a new drive to silence its boisterous microblogging culture by closing influential accounts belonging to writers and intellectuals who have used them to highlight social injustice.
Attention has turned to the country's opinion
formers. A recent commentary in the state-run Global Times newspaper warned that Big Vs -- meaning verified accounts with millions of followers -- had become relay stations for online rumours and accused them of harming the dignity of
the law .
State news agency Xinhua claimed the account of He Bing, a well known professor, was suspended because he had purposely spread rumours . Other intellectuals have seen accounts deleted outright.
In the past few days, China's most influential microblogging platform, Sina Weibo, has been deleting posts related to a controversial editorial, known as the Southern Weekly's New Year Greeting incident . All the related keywords, and even terms
like the South (??), the first part of the newspaper's name, are unsearchable. Outraged micro-bloggers keep yelling and cursing at Sina Weibo's managers.
However, a Sina Weibo's manager, @geniune_Yu_Yang, frustrated by the pressure the
Propaganda Department imposed upon him and his colleagues, came out and wrote an inside story to explain Sina's difficult position. Below is a quick translation of what he wrote:
Last night in [Sina] Weibo, apart from the
Propaganda Department, my work unit was the second most popular target of netizens' verbal attack. The screen was full of the terrifying note: The micro-blog has been deleted. The platform looked like a sinking ship with thousands of holes on it.
My boss, Lao Shen's [Sina] Weibo's page is full of cursing. In particular, after the Southern Weekly incident had been reported by Netease [a popular web portal] extensively yesterday, attacks on Sina's cowardice and its role as the running dog [of the
Propaganda Department] reached a climax. I was so frustrated and finally fought with a famous online script-writer. After I cooled down, I reflected upon the whole thing, feeling the urge to write a long micro-blog to explain the situation in detail.
Very often, you can't see the truth when you just see the phenomena and when you are overwhelmed with anger.
1. If we don't delete your post, the alternative is that your account will be banned. This platform
belongs to the public. It has changed our life and can exercise influence on the society and government through the spread of opinion. On the one hand, we have millions of netizens, on the other hand, we have, not Sina [Weibo, but the government and the
authorities]. Since the day [around the end of March 2012] when Sina Weibo suspended its comments function for three days, a special group of people have the authority to decide on the criteria for giving out alert signals, and can make [Sina] Weibo go
game-over as simply as treading on some ants without giving a damn about people's needs. When they issue urgent orders (like the Emperor's 18 golden orders in ancient time), you have to execute them.
We need [Sina] Weibo to
deliver voices. But a hand is manipulating behind us. Someone is doomed to be sacrifice in this game. We live in a country full of special and sensitive barriers and we have to operate within a set of rules.
2. With such
background, we have the second thesis: The strategy on deletion and distribution. Please think about this: You guys keep posting messages like machines, and the micro-blog secretaries keep deleting them. If we don't delete messages one by one and suspend
accounts, we could have saved more time and energy. We could have served better as the running dog. You can see the messages before they are deleted, right? You still have your account functioning, right? You are all experienced netizens, you know that
the technology allows us to delete messages in a second. Please think carefully on this.
3. In some cases, other platforms have more space than Sina. Sina is the biggest tree and everyone is using the platform. Classmate Xuan
[, nickname for the Propaganda Department,] will watch every single act. Once the leaves of the tree move, the bell rings. The way we receive orders is similar to the way the Catholic Father in the movie Cinema Paradiso rings his hand bell whenever
there is a kissing scene. We have to take orders whenever we hear the ringing bell.
Before this incident occurred, and at its very early stages, we were under a lot of pressure. We tried to resist and let the messages spread. This
is our accomplishment already. Our official account @Sina_Media reported on the suspension of the Southern Weekly instantly, and the news was retweeted by @headline_news, which was again retweeted again 30,000 times in 10 mins. Then we got the order from
Classmate Xuan and we had to delete it. Fortunately, the message had been distributed. A friend from Penguin website left a warm message in my microblog: This is a battle. Sina [Weibo] is a human flesh shield. It is a courageous act.
4. Expectedly, my bosses have to go through tea session [euphemism for police interview] again. I have to stop here.
China's legislature has approved new rules that will further tighten government control of the Internet by requiring users to register their real names, and demanding Internet companies censor online material.
The state-run Xinhua News Agency says
lawmakers approved the measures Friday at the closing meeting of a five-day session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.
The move seems to be in response to the runaway success of Weibo, a micro-blogging service similar to
Twitter, which has exposed corruption and other abuses of official power.
China has long tried to get Internet users to register their real names rather than pseudonyms with service providers without total success. The new rules lay the groundwork
to police companies that are not complying with the government's censorship policies
China appears to be tightening its repressive control of internet services that are able to burrow secretly through what is known as the Great Firewall , which prevents citizens there from reading supposedly inappropriate overseas content.
Both companies and individuals are being hit by the new technology deployed by the Chinese government. A number of companies providing
virtual private network (VPN) services to users in China say the new system is able to learn, discover and block the encrypted communications methods used by a number of different VPN systems.
China Unicom, one of the biggest
telecoms providers in the country, is now killing connections where a VPN is detected, according to one company with a number of users in China.
Users in China suspected in May 2011 that the government there was trying to disrupt VPN use, and now
VPN providers have begun to notice the effects.
Astrill, a VPN provider for users inside and outside China, has emailed its users to warn them that the Great Firewall system is blocking at least four of the common protocols used by VPNs,
which means that they don't function. But the company added that trying to stay ahead of the censors is a cat-and-mouse game -- although it is working on a new system that it hopes will let it stay ahead of the detection system.
Despite the fact that Twitter and Facebook are technically blocked in China, the two services are still widely used, according to data from market researcher GlobalWebIndex (see graph, bottom).
When asked which services they had contributed to in
the last month, 25% of surveyed Chinese users said they had used Google+, 15% used Facebook, and 8% accessed Twitter. Local equivalents are Qzone (66%), followed by Sina Weibo (61%), and Tencent Weibo (56%).
GlobalWebIndex has been tracking the
growth of social media use in China since 2009. At that point, there were 11.8 million Twitter users there, a number that grew to 35 million in the second quarter of 2012. Facebook use, meanwhile, jumped from 7.9 million to 65.2 million during the same
time period, said GlobalWebIndex founder Tom Smith.
So how do Chinese users access Facebook and Twitter? According to Smith, people are using virtual private networks (VPNs), virtual cloud networks (VCNs), or internationally routed connections,
meaning users won't be picked up by analytics and won't actually register as being in a Chinese location.
In short, Smith said, the 'Great Firewall' is not as solid as many people think.
Chinese internet users were barred from searching the truth on its leading social media website. Attempts to search for the phrase were blocked on the Twitter-like site Weibo.com, which boasts 300million users.
Users noticed that if they
typed in the Chinese characters for the truth , they received a message refusing to display any results. It read: According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, search results for 'the truth cannot be displayed.'
It is not
known how long the phrase search was blocked and if China's controlling Communist government intervened. But under Chinese law, social media firms are also required to self-censor.
Qi Zhenyu, head of social media for iSun Affairs, a Hong
Kong-based current affairs online magazine that is banned in China, said of Weibo:
It is not unusual but it is quite ironic this time -- you can't simply block the truth.
Whenever there is a
word that upsets them, they just go ahead and block [but] most of the time you can't really explain why they censor a certain word.
China has intensified online censorship by closing 16 websites and detaining six people for spreading rumours of a coup amid Beijing's most serious political crisis for years.
The moves underline official anxieties ahead of this year's leadership
transition, particularly since the sacking of Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai led to widespread speculation about infighting at the top.
As the mood on microblogs grew increasingly febrile, there were even claims of an attempted coup in the
Chinese capital, complete with photographs of military vehicles that turned out to be from a parade three years ago.
Property tycoon Zhang Xin, who has more than 3 million microblog followers, wrote: What is the best way to stop 'rumours'? It
is transparency and openness. The more speech is discouraged, the more rumours there will be.
The underlying problem is that you can't get the truth out of the government, so you might as well believe stuff flying around on the internet,
agreed Jeremy Goldkorn, who runs the Danwei website on Chinese media.
Chinese internet users develop coded language to work around banned words
Thanks to Nick 15th March 2012. From rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com
Don't look at me.. I was just out getting soy sauce
Scaling the wall. Buying soy sauce. Fifty cents. A mild collision. May 35. Mayor Lymph. River crab.
These words --- mild, silly, inoffensive --- are part of the subversive lexicon being used by Chinese bloggers
to ridicule the government, poke fun at Communist Party leaders and circumvent the heavily censored Internet in China. A popular blog that tracks online political vocabulary, China Digital Times, calls them part of the resistance discourse on the
Perry Link, the author of Liu Xiaobo's Empty Chair , described the use of code words and Aesopian allegory by Mr. Liu and other popular bloggers like Han Han: Harmony, for
example, is a key word used in the government's rhetoric, and Internet writers use hexie, or river crab, which is a near-homonym of the Chinese word for harmony, to mean repression.
To be harmonized, these days, is to be
Officials are aware, of course, of its barbed meaning on the Internet, said the Chinese writer Yu Ha in an essay in the IHT Magazine, but they can hardly ban it, because to do so would outlaw the 'harmonious
society' they are plugging. Harmony has been hijacked by the public.
[A few] days ago, Beijing was hosting an innovative tug-of-war for the elderly; this game has nine contestants in all, wrote one internet user, in a thinly veiled reference to the nine members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the country's
top political body.
The first round of the contest is still intense. The teletubby team noticeably has the advantage and, relatively, the Master Kong team is obviously falling short.
Teletubby is code for Wen Jiabao, who
chided Bo publicly before his ousting - the Chinese version of the children's TV show, Tianxianbaobao, shares a character with the Premier's name. The popular instant noodle brand Master Kong is known as Kang Shifu in Chinese and stands in for Zhou
Yongkang, who is reportedly supportive of Bo.
The New Scientist has reported on a study into the way that that Great Firewall of China censors internet users and particularly how this has been adapted to social networking sites.
As expected, the communists are hypersensitive to criticism of
the state - but also to people slating internet censorship itself.
The US study also shows Beijing's censorship machine adapts quickly to emerging issues. It's also location-dependent, being far more active, when required, in dissident regions.
David Bamman, a computer scientist and linguist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, got the idea for the research last summer when he noticed how quickly false rumours of the death of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin disappeared from
China's Twitter equivalent Sina Weibo. So with colleagues Noah Smith and Brendan O'Connor he decided to study the censorship mechanism more closely.
They studied the Twitter like Sina Weibo and download nearly 57 million messages for a snapshot of
3 months. They then compared these with Sina Weibo's archive to see which tweets were deleted.
As might be expected, criticism of state propaganda was not tolerated. Messages attacking China's Ministry of Truth were zapped, as were ones
involving calls for the resignations of incompetent government officials, such as that of the railways minister after a horrific train crash . Complaints about Fang Binxing - architect of the web censoring Golden Shield Project, nicknamed the
Great Firewall - were also highly deleted - as were mentions of a pair of Communist Party meetings which became a code word for arranging pro-democracy protests last spring.
The researchers suggest that this agility and infrequent updates to more
background censorship issues points to a high level of human involvement and a nuanced approach, rather than total automation. There also seems to be a priority system by location. Bamman explained: In Tibet there was an overall deletion rate of 53% -
against 12% in Beijing and 11% in Shanghai. The research will be published in a forthcoming issue of the open access journal First Monday.
A Chinese webmaster has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $3,000 for operating a porn site using a US-based server.
China's National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications prosecuted Sheng Jiarong and cited him for
reaping advertising revenues though the website.
The censor claimed its heavy-handed approach is clamping down on the spread of porn through the Internet and mobile devices and helping it to improve the way it polices domestic sites that host
In fall 2009, I sat in a large auditorium festooned with red banners and watched as Robin Li, CEO of Baidu, China's dominant search engine, paraded onstage with executives from 19 other companies to receive the China Internet Self-Discipline
Award. Officials from the quasi-governmental Internet Society of China praised them for fostering harmonious and healthy Internet development. In the Chinese regulatory context, healthy is a euphemism for porn-free and crime-free.
Harmonious implies prevention of activity that would provoke social or political disharmony. Related
China's censorship system is complex and multilayered. The outer layer is generally known as the great firewall
of China, through which hundreds of thousands of websites are blocked from view on the Chinese Internet. What this system means in practice is that when one goes online from an ordinary commercial Internet connection inside China and tries to visit a
website such as hrw.org, the website belonging to Human Rights Watch, the web browser shows an error message saying, This page cannot be found. This blocking is easily accomplished because the global Internet connects to the Chinese Internet
through only eight gateways, which are easily filtered. At each gateway, as well as among all the different Internet service providers within China, Internet routers --- the devices that move the data back and forth between different
computer networks --- are all configured to block long lists of website addresses and politically sensitive keywords.
China will expand nationwide a trial program that requires users of the country's wildly popular Twitter like services to disclose their identities to the government in order to post comments online, the government's top Internet censor said.
Chen of the State Council Information Office, said at a news conference that registration trials in five major eastern China cities would continue until wrinkles were worked out. But he said that eventually all 250 million users of microblogs, called
weibos in China, would have to register, beginning first with new users.
Wang indicated that under the program, users could continue to use nicknames online, even though they would still be required to register their true identities. The reasoning
seems to be to limit the spread of malicious rumors, pornography, scams and other 'unhealthy practices' on weibos, which have become a major source of news for many Chinese.
Authorities in Beijing have issued new rules requiring users of microblog sites to register personal details.
New users of Weibo - Chinese equivalents of Twitter - will now have to submit their real names. Existing users have to register in three
months. Those who refuse to do so will lose the ability to post tweets.
The move comes with Chinese people increasingly using Weibo platforms to criticise government policies or vent anger over particular incidents.
Chinese authorities have
accused netizens of spreading rumours on Weibo in the past and have long been discussing putting in place a real name mechanism .
The new regulations - which take effect immediately - were issued jointly by Beijing's information,
communication and police authorities, and published on the city's official news portal.
Some users on Sina Weibo have expressed unhappiness at the new rule, posting messages such as goodbye Weibo and time to move on and calling on
friends and followers to migrate to other social media sites such as Twitter and Google+ instead.
In the cat-and-mouse game between Chinese censors and Internet users, the government seems to be testing a new mousetrap--one that may be designed to detect and block tunnels through its Great Firewall even when the data in those tunnels is aimed at a
little-known computers and obscured by encryption.
In recent months, administrators of services with encrypted connections designed to allow users secure remote access say they've seen strange activity coming from China: When a user from within
the country attempts to reach a server abroad, a string of seemingly random data hits the destination computer before he or she can connect, sometimes followed by that user's communication being mysteriously dropped.
The anti-censorship and
anonymity service Tor, for instance, has found that many of its bridge nodes --privately-placed servers around the world designed to connect users to the rest of Tor's public network of traffic re-routing computers--have become inaccessible to
Chinese users within hours or even minutes of being set up, according to Andrew Lewman, the project's executive director. Users have told him that other censorship circumvention services like Ultrasurf and Freegate have seen similar problems, he says.
Someone will try to connect, then there's a weird scan, and the bridge stops working, says Lewman. We see weird things all the time, but this is a semi-consistent weird thing, and it's only coming from China.
Lewman believes that
China's internet service providers may be testing a new system that, rather than merely block IP addresses or certain Web pages, attempts to identify censorship circumvention tools by preceding a user's connection to an encrypted service with a probe
designed to reveal something about what sort of service the user is accessing. It's like if I tell my wife I'm going bowling with my friends, and she calls the bowling alley ahead of time to see if that's what I'm really doing, says Lewman. It's verifying that you're asking for what you seem to be asking for.
The Chinese website Sina Weibo which features a Twitter-like messaging service is reportedly filtering out search results containing the word occupy when paired with the names of various places.
China Digital Times (CDT) reports:
As the Occupy Wall Street movement goes global, China's call for calm observation and reflection may have been followed by another round of censorship in cyberspace. A long list of banned keywords on Sina Weibo's search
function has been uncovered and tested by the CDT team yesterday. All the listed phrases stick to one simple rule: a combination of occupy and a place name--provincial capitals, economically developed regions, and few symbolic local areas.
China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu has told reporters that Internet censorship is what's best for the public.
According to Reuters, which spoke with Yu in an interview, China claims that its Internet management is not only lawful,
but is designed to safeguard the public.
Yu told Reuters:
We are willing to work with countries and communicate with them on the development of the Internet and to work together to promote the
sound development of the Internet. But we do not accept using the excuse of 'Internet freedom' to interfere in other countries' internal practices.
Yu's comments were a direct response to a letter sent to China earlier this week by
U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization Michael Punke. According to Reuters, Punke argued that China's Web blockade diminishes the ability for many U.S. companies to compete against China's counterparts.
Access to the Android Marketplace has been blocked entirely from within China as The Next Web reports, but locals are also complaining that Android handsets are having a hard time getting onto the Gmail service. The Gmail block isn't being applied to
IMAP connections, which means iPhones and similar are working well, lending weight to the idea that this is a political, rather than a security, issue.
The absolute block on android.com started over the weekend, just after Google announced it
would be helping the Dalai Lama to (virtually) visit South Africa. That might be coincidence, but it's not the first time that China has been accused of using restrictions on internet access as a political tool.
Hits by Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Take That are among 100 songs that have been placed on an internet blacklist by China's culture ministry.
Music websites have been given until 15 September to remove the offending tracks, which officials claim
harm national cultural security . Those that fail to do so risk being prosecuted by the Chinese authorities.
A notice posted on the culture ministry's website said the 100 songs had not been submitted for official approval.
directive was cited that targets supposed poor taste and vulgar content as well as copyright violations. This directive requires that alll hosted tracks have official sanction.
Most of the banned songs are from Taiwan or Hong Kong, with
several from Japan. Among the Western acts:
Lady Gaga has six banned tracks: The Edge of Glory, Hair, Marry the Night, Americano, Judas and Bloody Mary .
China has ordered a widespread crackdown on the internet in attempts to prevent uprisings like those seen in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
The secretary of the Communist Party, Liu Qi has warned ISPs that they must tighten control of online content to prevent the spread of fake and harmful information
and that the internet companies should resist such information, the Associated Press reports.
It's not clear how the Chinese government expects the ISPs to control content online, but it's likely that it wants them to monitor people's
online activities and disconnect those participating in the spread of dissenting views. Penalties for non-compliance could be to shut down the ISP altogether.
The government-approved Beijing Internet Media Association also called on its 104
members to police the internet for rumors or vulgar contents , saying that the public should be led toward a correct direction - the proper direction being support of the government, of course.
China's equivalent of Twitter, Sina,
which has over 140 million users, has been a particular focus of censorship. The company has been forced to monitor users, with over 100 employees checking for dissenting views 24 hours a day. Of course, with such a large user base it might be impossible
to censor everything.
This latest move marks one of the strictest crackdowns on internet freedom so far, which could cause even more upset and dissent amongst its citizens.
Twitter and Facebook to resist government
Facing the first true threats of censorship from the Western world, Facebook and Twitter appear ready for a fight. The major social networks are expected to offer no concessions when they meet the home secretary, Theresa May, at a Home Office summit
on Thursday, the Guardian reports.
In the wake of riots and looting across England, government ministers have called for a ban on social networks during times of civil unrest. Prime Minister David Cameron has also asked that suspected rioters
be banned from social networks.
The home secretary is expected to explore what measures the major social networks could take to help contain disorder -- including how law enforcement can more effectively use the sites -- rather than discuss
powers to shut them down, according to the Guardian.
Facebook and Twitter are expected to strongly warn the government against introducing emergency measures that could usher in a new form of online censorship, the Guardian reports.
China's microblog sites, which claim 195 million users and allow people to shoot out short bursts of often strongly worded opinion, have put China's Communist rulers in a difficult spot. Fearing an uproar if they block the sites outright, the censors
struggle to keep ahead of the rapid-fire messages that often spread news and opinion the government would like to contain.
Chinese officials, Internet operators, media and citizens are all players in an online contest over how far microblogs will be
allowed to challenge the censorship demanded by the Communist Party.
China has banned 43 recently published online pornographic novels, according to a notice issued by the National Office against Pornographic and Illegal Publications.
The notice states that since October, the General Administration of Press and
Publication has issued several orders to investigate a dozen online pornographic novels and the websites that host them.
Beijing Cultural Law Enforcement Agency has punished 24 websites and demanded the deletion of 209 links to illegal content.
Eight of the sites were shut down for providing porn.
The notice also warns that it's getting more difficult to detect pornographic websites as they're becoming adept at concealing their content from regulators. Some move their servers to other
provinces or abroad, while others find creative ways to disguise pornographic content.
Technological innovations have enabled publishers of erotic material to disseminate it through smart phones, tablet computers and e-books, according to the
Chinese internet users suspect that their government is interfering with the method they have been using to tunnel under the Great Firewall to prevent them connecting with the outside world.
Since 6 May, a number of users says that internet
connections via China Telecom, the largest telephone company, and China Unicom have become unstable , with intermittent access when trying to access sites in foreign countries using a virtual private network (VPN). Even Apple's app store
has been put off-limits by the new blocks, according to reports.
The disruption has mainly affected corporate connections such as universities while home connections that use standard broadband systems have been unaffected, according to the
prominent Chinese technology blogger William Long.
Normally traffic flowing over VPN connections is secure because it is encrypted, meaning that the Chinese authorities were unable to detect what content was flowing back and forth over it. A VPN
connection from a location inside China to a site outside China would effectively give the same access as if the user were outside China.
According to Global Voices Advocacy, a pressure group that defends free speech online, the disruption follows
new systems put in place in the Great Firewall -- in fact monitoring software on the routers that direct internet traffic within and across China's borders. The new software appears to be able to detect large amounts of connections being made to
overseas internet locations.
The problem has become so bad that some universities and businesses have told their users not to try to use VPNs, and only to visit work-related sites; to do otherwise could lead to trouble for the
company and the users involved.
The twitter-like microblogging site, Weibo, has deleted the account of a Chinese bigwig in the sphere of censorship
Fang Binxing, is president of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. He has been tagged by establishment as the
father of the Great Firewall of China for his role in building the mainland's sophisticated system of blocking free internet access to its 420 million users.
However it clear that Chinese netizens are less flattering.
starting posting on Weibo he had posted just three times when internet users reacted strongly to his efforts, with comments pouring in minutes after he posted to the site - most of them ridiculing or criticising him for being the person behind the
mainland's internet firewall.
Some internet users said it was a targeted campaign by activists, while others believed it was a spontaneous outpouring of anger.
Editors of the microblog were quick to remove the comments, but many harshly
worded postings still made their way through. Internet analysts said thousands of negative comments had been posted on Fang's site before they were censored at about 1pm.
But internet users continued their assault on other platforms. A posting on
other mainland bulletins calling for internet users to besiege Fang's microblog had more than 4,000 followers .
China's Great Firewall deleted 350 million pieces of harmful information as part of what government's 2010 campaign to clean up the internet by shutting what it judged to be harmful sites.
Chinese government officials touted the success
of its extensive system of filtering and blocking Internet content in 2010, saying the Internet is cleaner than before.
Over 350 million pages, or pieces of harmful information, which includes text, pictures and videos, have been
deleted, and 60,000 adult content Web sites shut down, said Wang Chen, head of the State Council Information Office, during a press conference on Dec. 30, according to Reuters.
People in China have found that Amazon's Kindle e-reader allows them to bypass the country's Great Firewall , according to a report.
An article in the South China Morning Post suggested that the 3G-capable device's browser was able to
access sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which are banned in China and blocked at a national level. The access is made possible by Amazon's own Whispernet virtual mobile network, the article stated.
According to the piece, engineering professor
Lawrence Yeung Kwan speculates that Amazon and its Chinese Whispernet partner — the virtual network is based on the real networks of operators around the world — might have agreed to transfer the connection to Amazon's station, presumably
in the US, once the mainland gatekeeper sees the signal comes from a Kindle... The signal, which may be encrypted, then returns to the partner network in China so the internet patrols cannot see what is accessed .
Amazon does not sell the
Kindle in China, so the devices referred to in the South China Morning Post article are grey-market imports.
Chinese authorities have begun a massive clamp down on social media on the mainland, particularly Twitter like microblogs, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
LAuthorities have now set their sights on social networking with the closure
of dozens of micro blog accounts. Blocked last month were four of the leading Chinese micro blogging services, Netease, Sina, Tencent and Sohu.
The sites were reportedly either displaying messages that said they were closed for maintenance or had inexplicably reverted to an earlier 'beta' testing phase.
Prominent Chinese bloggers, known for raising sensitive issues, have spoken out against the action.
I was writing a new post and suddenly my blog couldn't open, lawyer Pu Zhiqiang told The Associated Press (AP).
Yao Yuan, working on a separate unclosed blog, cited at least 61 closed Sohu blogs, including his own. He described the closings as mass murder, AP said.
Despite the massive resources that the regime deploys to control the Internet, it is
impossible to keep track of all the flow of information on Twitter and its Chinese equivalents, RSF said: Micro blogging is also used by the government itself as well as by millions of Chinese who have nothing to do with dissidents .
Chinese authorities have just announced that microblogging websites – sites offering Twitter-style services – will be told to appoint self-discipline commissioners to be responsible for censorship.
In a parallel development, new rules took
effect on 1 September. Now anyone wanting to buy a mobile phone that uses prepaid SIM cards will have to produce identity papers while anyone already owning such a phone will have three years to register their ownership.
China's censors are
giving themselves an additional layer of control, Reporters Without Borders said. The Great Firewall of China is getting human reinforcements to boost its effectiveness. But if they are held to strict performance criteria, it seems these
commissioners are being assigned an impossible mission, given the volume of information circulating online for which they will be responsible.
The press freedom organisation added: Nonetheless, their very existence will be dangerous because
of their nuisance value and because they could encourage microbloggers to censor themselves. Meanwhile, under the pretext of combating spam, a new blow has been dealt to the personal data of China's mobile phone users.
platforms will themselves have to hire the commissioners whose job it will be to monitor and censor anything that could threaten China's security and social stability. They are supposed to target content linked to illegal activities, pornography and
violence, as well as baseless rumours and politically sensitive issues. Although hired by the site, each commissioner will be responsible for its content and will be operationally independent.
Chinese authorities in Tibet have ordered Internet cafes across the region to finish installing state-of-the-art surveillance systems by the end of the month, industry sources and local media said.
All the Internet cafes must now install it,
said Chen Jianying, head of the customer service department of the industry group Internet Cafes Online: This is a nationwide policy which is part of the implementation of the real-name registration system .
The proprietor of an
Internet cafe in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, which is still under tight security following widespread Tibetan unrest beginning in March 2008, confirmed the scheme is already in full swing. He said the new system will mean tighter online controls: If
there is something that is being controlled, there's no way anyone will get to see it. It's definitely a tighter form of control .
Under the nationwide scheme, which took effect Aug. 1, second-generation identity cards belonging to the person
using the Internet must be swiped to allow online access. Viewed content can then be traced back to that identity, using the the surveillance system.
The previously reported lightening up of the Chinese attitude to blocking of porn websites seems to be firming up.
After eight weeks, the porn sites are still accessible. Still unanswered are questions about whether it's an official change in
policy, a technical glitch or some sort of test by the usually disapproving Chinese Internet police.
Whatever the reason, the change has thrown into sharper relief what many people see as the main mission of China's aggressive Internet censors:
blocking sites and content that might challenge the political authority of the communist government. Websites about human rights and dissidents are also routinely banned.
Maybe they are thinking that if Internet users have some porn to look at,
then they won't pay so much attention to political matters, Internet analyst Michael Anti said.
Sites that suddenly became available around late May include the English-language YouPorn and PornHub, along with numerous Chinese sites
offering downloads, though Anti and others say well-known Chinese-language sites remain blocked.
Wen Yunchao, a popular blogger who writes about social issues and the Internet under the name Beifeng, said even more porn sites have become available
in recent days, including a well-known Chinese site called Xingba, or Sex Bar. In the past, the GFW would use pornography as an excuse for censorship. Now they're not even trying to cover it up.
Some speculate the
proliferation of social networking sites and Twitter-like services was taxing the Great Firewall, requiring the government to unblock some porn sites to free up capacity for other snooping.
I think when the GFW realized they were not able to
block all domain names, they reallocated resources to block more urgent or political sites, said Long, a tech blogger.
As part of the change, employees in the office that cracks down on pornography and unauthorized publications no longer have
to report overseas-based porn sites to police because of the difficulties in tracking down Chinese involved, the state-run magazine Oriental Outlook reported in May. Censors only need to note the sites, the report said.
China has scrapped a system that required websites to apply for a special licence before launching forums and chat rooms.
Analysts however cautioned that the loosening of controls, announced on the State Council's website late last week, might be
brief and could soon be replaced with more stringent regulations.
For the past 10 years, applicants wishing to provide web messaging services had to submit their business licence, Internet Content Provider licence and other documents for official
examination before a fresh permit was issued. They also had to agree to use filtering software and hire staff to monitor the services around the clock.
One of two companies linked to a
nationwide Internet pornography-filtering project refuted reports that the controversial software has been halted.
The Green Dam - Youth Escort Internet content-filtering software, which aroused opposition due to privacy and security
concerns at home and abroad last year when it was launched, is facing funding difficulties, the Beijing Times reported.
Authorities have stopped funding the distribution and maintenance of the software, a move that could halt the project, the
paper reported citing a general manager of one of the two companies concerned.
But the same person rejected the report, saying the company just moved the office to a new location because of financial problems.
Beginning August 1, online game operators in China will be forced to take a series of steps to protect online gamers under the age of 18 from 'inappropriate' content and selling or buying items using virtual currency.
According to the Xinhua News
Agency, online games created for minors will have to lose any content that would lead to imitation of behavior that violates social morals and the law. The regulations deal with content that is horrifying, cruel or otherwise unwholesome,
specifically any portrayals of pornography, cults, superstitions, gambling and violence.
The virtual currency ban was said to be made possible by a new rule that online game players must register game accounts using their real name.
Gaming operators were also told to
develop techniques that would limit the gaming time of minors in order to prevent addiction, though without specifying what kinds of techniques and a permissible gaming time.
Until now, all pornographic content has been blocked by the censors inside of China.
But it turns out that you can now search on Google any sexual activity you like inside China and access it without censorship. Some, but not all, Chinese
pornographic websites are also available.
No one knows why there has been a sudden change of heart. The friends who first told me the news speculated that with the recent spate of extreme violence carried out by middle-aged men (the kindergarten
stabbings, today's shoot-out in a court in Hunan), the government might be allowing pornography in order to vent some pent-up testosterone.
Perhaps also, with the closure of hundreds of brothels and saunas, the authorities have deemed the
pornography a consolation.
Or perhaps there is a more pragmatic explanation. It would not be a wild assumption to guess that this is a technical issue with the capacity of the Great Firewall [China's censorship system], said Wen Yunchao, an
activist in Guangdong: The unblocking has been going on for weeks, so we can conclude that either the system has a limited capacity and wants to focus on other things, or this could be a long-lasting change .
China will push to end anonymous online comments, according to Wang Chen, director of the State Council Information Office, who recently reiterated the need for more restrictions in cyberspace.
The news regulator said that China would strengthen
its monitoring on harmful information on the Internet, in an attempt to block bad overseas information from spreading into the country via the Internet and prevent overseas hostile forces from infiltrating through the Internet, according to
his full speech published by the People's Daily.
In the speech, Wang confirmed, for the first time, that major news websites and business portals in China have already complied with the no-anonymity comment rule; a trend that Wang said will be
pushed through the Internet, including the populous online bulletin boards.
China has tightened controls on internet use, requiring anyone who wants to set up a website to meet the censors and produce ID documents.
The technology ministry claimed the measures were designed to tackle online pornography, but internet
activists see it as increased government censorship.
A number of websites are now being registered overseas in an attempt to avoid controls.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Tuesday lifted a freeze introduced in
December on registration for new individual websites. But the technology ministry said would-be website operators would now have to submit identity cards and photos of themselves, as well as meeting censors before their sites could be registered.
In a latest action against the online porn industry, China has reinforced its arsenal of laws now in effect.
The Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate said that the new rules would target wireless carriers, along with
advertisers, advertising agents, third-party payment platforms and websites if they are found to be involved in the porn business for profits.
Measures against porn websites are already in operation but now others involved in the online porn
business will have to prove that they were unaware of any porn content on the websites. However, a single complaint from any netizen could foil the attempt, according to the rule's definition of awareness.
The rule also enhances the protection for
teenagers younger than 14 by cutting the conviction threshold in half. For instance, as few as 10 video clips verified as porn will carry the sentence of making, copying, publishing, selling and circulating porn articles for making profits, according to
Online game operators in Beijing will test a ratings system advising parents on sexual and violent content in their games, ahead of the introduction of government guidelines, state media said.
The move comes amid a massive nationwide government
repression of Internet porn and violence—a campaign seen by some critics as a way for the country's censors to reinforce the Great Firewall of China against political dissent.
Over 30 operators have agreed to rate their games according to
their suitability for children and adults this month. Gamers will need to provide their identification numbers in order to play, to prove they are old enough to view the content.
The Beijing Animation Game Industry Union's secretary-general, Liu
Chungang, said the group's decision was a self-disciplinary, non-governmental act within the industry .
The culture ministry plans to introduce its own ratings system later this year, the newspaper said. Culture Minister Cai Wu was quoted
by state media in December as saying his ministry had banned 219 Internet games for carrying lewd, pornographic and violent content.
Chinese web censos banned individual domain registration without a business license in early December But an official from China's Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) told the English-language newspaper ChinaDaily that the decision may be
reversed — so long as measures are in place to verify an applicant's personal information.
The decision appears to be effort to keep citizens from wandering outside China's Great Firewall for easier registration.
Banning domain name
registrations for individual applicants will have a negative impact on the industry because the applicants can either turn to foreign registers or apply with false information, Qi Lin, assistant deputy with the CNNIC,said.
Access to IMDb.com was blocked in China this week, adding the movie business Internet portal to a fast-growing list of banned Web sites featuring user-generated content, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
The site, fully named the Internet
Movie Database, is owned by online bookselling giant Amazon.com, and claims over 57 million monthly visitors.
There's no Chinese-language edition of IMDb and industry insiders here say they can't understand why it's been shut down for since
Typically the government's censorship efforts focus on trying to block China's 338 million Web users from accessing online pornography and violence. The government seldom reacts to queries about blocking foreign Web sites or gives any
official notice when such action is taken.
For clues to Beijing's beef with IMDb, a quick scan of the site turned up plenty of information relating to politically sensitive search terms such as Dalai Lama and Rebiya Kadeer — the
names of members of two exiled ethnic minorities considered separatists by China's one-party government.
For instance, IMDb lists The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet's Struggle for Freedom, a 2009 documentary whose planned screening this week
at the Palm Springs International Film Festival caused the state-run China Film Group to pull two of its films from competition in protest.
Likewise, typing Kadeer – persona non-grata for her alleged masterminding of recent violence in
western China's Xinjiang region — turns up the IMDb listing for China: Rebirth of an Empire, a 2009 documentary featuring Kadeer and exiled Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng.
Chinese police have said that their crackdown on Internet pornography has brought 5,394 arrests and 4,186 criminal case investigations in 2009 -- a fourfold increase in the number of such cases compared with 2008.
The announcement on the Ministry
of Public Security's website (www.mps.gov.cn) said the drive would deepen in 2010.
Police would intensify punishments for Internet operations that violate laws and regulations , said the statement from the ministry's Internet security
section. Strengthen monitoring of information, it urged, Press Internet service providers to put in place preventive technology.
The ministry did not say how many of the 5,394 suspects arrested were later charged, released or
China has banned the registering of personal Internet domain names and people who have their own websites could lose t hem, the South China Morning Post said, citing a government regulation that came into effect recently.
Under the regulation,
Internet service providers can no longer host individually owned websites and only businesses or government-authorised organizations can have them, the English-language report said.
The step was taken because of supposed concern over pornographic
content on personal websites, the Morning Post said, citing the China Internet Network Information Center.
Website owners in Jiangsu, Shanghai, Henan, Zhejiang and Jiangxi can no longer access their sites, the report said.
The Beijing News quoted a recent meeting of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), summarized and explained the policies into 5 measures
Set up a blacklist to prevent the owners of domain names found to be in violation from applying for additional domain names.
Tighten registration procedures to ensure that all application documents are accurate. Transfer of a domain name
3Unregistered domain names will not be resolved: Domestic websites are usually registered with MIIT, but because some of them were in existence before the establishment of the registration system, some websites have not registered. Many foreign
domain names have not registered with MIIT.
Suspension of DNS service to violating websites and to any other domain names in the possession of the same domain name holder.
Overhaul of registrars:
In the past, the website registration system targets at websites hosted in local servers, as for overseas websites, the politically sensitive ones were blocked by the Great Fire Wall (GFW - internet filter) under the blacklist system or keywords
filtering. However, netizens can still get around by using proxy or TOR. If the MIIT is to white-listing the whole Internet, it will turn the Chinese Internet into intranet and cripple most of the circumventing devices.
However, it is net yet
clear if the registration system will be extended to foreign websites. According to the MIIT official document on the campaign against the proliferation of pornography on mobile devices, the first stage (Nov-Dec 2009) of the white washing campaign has
started with a ban on individual registration for CN domain name. The second stage, which involves what has been described in the Beijing News (strengthening of the registration without specific reference to overseas websites), will take place between
Jan-Sep 2010. The final stage is between Oct - Dec 2010. Measures will involve a complete monitoring and analysis of online data flow and resources for identifying illegal and unsolicited activities.
Chinese officials have launched their latest antiporn initiative — this time offering surfers cash payments for reporting adult websites.
According to Chinese state media, the new program offers up to 10,000 yuan (around $1465 U.S.) to Internet
users that locate and report pornographic websites. The move, seemingly designed to build a more comprehensive database of adult websites, has the consequence of encouraging more visits to suspected porn sites.
The Xinhua news agency claims that
within the first 24 hours of the new program, its hotline at the Internet Illegal Information Reporting Centre received more than 500 phone calls and 13,000 online tips.
The rewards for identifying adult web and mobile sites range from 1,000 yuan
to 10,000 yuan, will reportedly be paid to the first person to report a specific URL, with a review committee determining the appropriate payout.
According to some adult industry analysts, the reward money may very well exceed the revenues of
operating these sites, thus encouraging a spike in Chinese adult website creation, simply for the profit potential of then reporting the new site to authorities.
Web browser Opera has closed a service which allowed Chinese users to access sites banned by the government.
At the weekend mobile users of the Opera Mini browser were asked to upgrade to a Chinese version.
According to the BBC's Beijing
Bureau, this version no longer allows access to sites such as Facebook.
Previously traffic ran over Opera servers bypassing the so-called Great Firewall of China, making the browser popular with Chinese users.
Opera confirmed that it had
started directing users of the international version of the mobile browser to the Chinese version on 20 November. It was not prepared to discuss the background for this decision . But there was plenty of speculation on the blogosphere.
Let me guess what has happened here. The Chinese government has put pressure on Opera to close down that free access. And like most companies, they complied,
wrote blogger Carsten Ullrich.
In the past few days, Chinese twitterers reported that the Chinese censor has blocked a number of popular Twitter's third party applications.
Since Fanfou, the Chinese micro-blogging website, has been ordered to shut down earlier this year,
many bloggers moved to Twitter to spread their ideas. Net activists believe that it is impossible to block Twitter as there are many third party applications that allow users to read and post information without accessing the site. However, beginning
from early this week, many Chinese twitterers reported that popular third party applications such as twitpic, itweet, twitese, twittergadget have been blocked and they have to shift to other tools.
When you search #fuckgfw (great fire wall) in
twitter, you can see the most updated blocking reports.
China has banned Web sites from advertising or linking to games that glamorize violence. A notice posted on the Culture Ministry Web site on Monday said games that promote drug use, obscenities, gambling, or crimes such as rape, vandalism and theft are
against public morality and the nation's fine cultural traditions.
Such online games promote the glorification of mafia life . . . and are a serious threat to the moral standards of society causing vulnerable young people to be adversely
affected, the notice said. The ban on the Web sites starts immediately.
No details were given on how the law would be implemented, but the notice called for law enforcement bodies to ensure Web sites adhere to the new law.
On 3 July Chinese government censors blocked access to Danwei.org, the website I have edited from my home in Beijing since 2003. It is hosted outside China, so it's easy for zealous regulators to flip an electronic switch and restrict access. Most of
our content is translated from the Chinese media and internet, which gave us a certain amount of protection: most Chinese people who write or publish in China self-censor; this is why we had escaped the censor's wrath. Until July.
This year -
after a period of relatively relaxed controls - the bodies who censor information and culture have come back with a vengeance. There are several reasons: 2009 has seen a number of sensitive anniversaries, including the 4 May student uprisings of
1919, the 1959 Tibetan uprising, and Tiananmen Square in 1989. Although Tibet has been relatively calm this year, the riots in Urumqi in July added greatly to the tense atmosphere in Beijing. Government nervousness about the internet was exacerbated by
hype in the western press about Twitter bringing democracy to Iran. Another factor is the financial crisis, which has made mass unrest more likely.
Two people have been jailed after threatening an undercover policeman at a clip joint in Soho, central London. Had he been a genuine customer, he would have been another victim of what is a well-established scam.
Video footage captures a man
throwing his wallet onto the floor and offering to pay anything to escape.
He shouts: What's the problem? I'll pay whatever it is ... what, £300? I'll pay, I'll pay ... take my wallet. I don't want to be hurt. Leave me!
Unfortunately for those fronting Twilights, this was an undercover policeman armed with a hidden camera and microphone and he had caught them red-handed.
Kingston Crown Court was told that in December last year, a man fled the bar, in Rupert Street, in fear of his safety after being threatened and ordered to pay £300.
Stacey Crossley and Agnieszka Wolowska have since been found guilty
of blackmail and false imprisonment.
Crossley was jailed for three years and his co-defendant was locked up for 14 months and recommended for deportation to her native Poland.
They were arrested by uniformed police officers as the scammers
chased the undercover officer outside.
The scam involves customers, often foreign tourists, being enticed inside hostess bars with false promises of adult entertainment , Westminster Council explained. The bars, known as clip joints, employ
women to stand outside or near their premises and bring the customers in for a small charge, in much the same way as other licensed bars and clubs employ staff to hand out leaflets promoting their offers. Once inside the clip joints, customers are served
soft drinks, usually by a pretty young woman. But when the customer goes to leave, they will usually find themselves faced with a charge of several hundred pounds for having been in the woman's company.
If they refuse to pay, the customer may be
threatened with violence by bouncers or frog-marched to a cash machine and forced to hand over cash.
Part of the problem in the past was that clip joints exposed a legal loophole. They did not need a licence to operate because they did not serve
food or alcohol or provide entertainment. But in September 2007 the London Local Authorities Act reclassified clip joints as sex establishments, meaning they required the relevant licences, closing the loophole.
Councillor Daniel Astaire,
Westminster City Council's cabinet member for community safety, said: Today's hearing marks the end of a long battle to close down all known clip joints in Westminster which lured in men under the false premise of adult entertainment, then charged
them exorbitant rates for soft drinks in the company of so-called hostesses.
Most people who were ripped off were simply too embarrassed or scared to report the matter to police, and as these venues exploited legal loopholes to operate on the
fringes of the law, our powers to close them down were extremely limited.
Chinese authorities has begun blocking the intermediate nodes and servers, directory services on the basis of the Tor anonymizing their IP addresses.
In the columns of Tor's blog can be read that the great firewall (GFW) is
blocking communication with about 80% of the Tor node. Author of note also admitted that it was expected this turn of events.
Already in the middle of last year, China blocked Tor website. Therefore, the operator of the website and its creators
tried to be the protection of the new Tor servers, to prevent the Chinese authorities to get into the list of public nodes - the intention is apparently failed.
Although the establishment of an anonymous connection is still possible using the
remaining 20% of the nodes, but such an operation takes a long time. Author of this blog entry advises users that you run a Tor private goals (so-called bridge relays) if they want to help Chinese colleagues. This kind of goals do not appear on public
lists, and thus difficult to find and block.
The Beijing government has recently required all ISPs and data centers to install a software called Blue Dam in all their servers.
According to today's Taiwan Apple Daily News, the Blue Dam has to be activated by September 13 or the companies will
be subject to punishment.
The Blue Dam is developed by Shanghai Andatong Information Safety Technology Company and according to a report back in July 2009, the Blue Dam is 20 times more effective than the Green Dam as it is a combination of
software and hardware.
The Blue Dam system is consisted of the following features: a graphic-filtering system, administrative-management system, internet-behavior manager, VPN client. The developer said that the business version of the Blue Dam
can help company to stop their workers from visiting websites or hanging around in the Internet on non work related activities.
The Chinese government is scaling back plans for compulsory net filtering for all citizens.
China's minister of industry, information and technology said Green Dam Filtering software would be compulsory for all computers in schools and public
internet cafes, but not for individual PCs.
The government originally demanded that all machines should have the software either pre-loaded or at least included in the bundle of software discs included with new PCs. This was meant to start from
July but was delayed.
Minister Li Yizhong said it was up to consumers whether or not they installed the software, but it would be required for PCs in public places.
Jiangsu province authorities have shut down one of the largest online adult companies in the country in its ongoing obscenity crackdown.
The Dikamin “league” has 13 adult websites that service more than 12 million registered members, with an
additional 10,000 “VIP” recurring memberships.
A league is known as a version of an affiliate program, relying on paid membership for bulletin boards that include content, as well as the ability to share it.
Police said Dikamin and two
other Chinese-language online adult programs have servers located in the U.S.
Chinese Authorities also said that it is the first time that a government agency has managed to shut down overseas adult websites. They also arrested 12 employees on
Wednesday, as well as the owner — known as Mr. Shen. At one point in time Shen had 300 marketers tending to the websites in China.
Chinese internet users are being blocked from accessing stories about the son of President Hu Jintao after a company he used to run was reported to be under investigation for corruption.
The latest brick to be built into the Great Firewall of
China came in the form of news that the technology channels of the leading Chinese web portals, Sina and Netease, could not be opened for several hours after they posted reports about the company linked to Hu Haifeng. Articles about an investigation in
Namibia into corruption allegations against Nuctech, a Beijing company that produces scanning equipment for airport security, disappeared quickly, even though they did not mention the former company president by name.
The China Digital Times, a
US-based blog run by Xiao Qiang, of the Berkeley China Internet Project at the University of CaliforniaBerkeley, posted a copy of a notice it said had been issued by the Communist Party's propaganda department. The notice, issued to all search engines,
read: Hu Haifeng, Namibia, Namibia bribery investigation, Nuctech bribery investigation, southern Africa bribery investigation. Please show no search results for all the above keywords.
In its latest move to crush porn, China has arrested or detained operators of adult sites that use foreign servers.
According to PC World, this latest crackdown follows the arrests of mobile porn website owners in China as well as the
government's plan to have all machines sold in the country pre-installed with the controversial Green Dam Youth Escort software.
Police claimed two Chinese porn sites, May Babe and May Erotica , ran on U.S. servers and were updated
through an encrypted virtual private network (VPN) to avoid detection, according to the state-run Xinhua news service.
Officials said most owners of Chinese porn sites now employ server space abroad to avoid China's web police. It was not stated
how the site owners were tracked down.
Police also arrested staff members of a Chinese company that created more than 40 pornographic WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) sites for mobile users, Xinhua said.
Chinese police have also warned
third-party payment businesses against providing services for those providing pornographic and lewd material online. The ministry statement referred to one case in which people were arrested for selling porn site memberships to Love City through
third-party payments via companies such as AliPay, PayPal and YeePay.
In a rare event for the Chinese capital a group of about a thousand people met for a public but convivial protest against government plans to install the controversial Green Dam filtering software on computers. They were responding to an invitation by
Beijing artist Ai Weiwei who called for a day of boycott of the internet.
Recently Chinese authorities decided that all new computers made and sold in the country must contain this filter, ostensibly to fight pornographic or other dirty websites.
But many in China and abroad believe the real motive behind the move is to establish total control over mainland internet users. For this reason there have been many protests.
However, on the eve of its official starting date, Chinese
authorities put the web filtering software on hold
For those who came out to protest this was but a short term victory, conscious that the battle against internet censorship must continue.
China's Green Dam
internet filtering system will go ahead
China's controversial plan to install Green Dam internet filtering software on all computers will go ahead despite being postponement, a government official told state media today. The official said it was only a matter of time until
the software was installed.
An official, speaking anonymously, told China Daily: The government will definitely carry on the directive on Green Dam. It's just a matter of time.
What will happen is that some PC manufacturers will have
it included with their PC packages sooner than the others. But there is no definite deadline at the moment.
The official said the delay was necessary because some computer manufacturers needed more time to prepare.
China has backed down from a plan to install censorship software on all computers sold on the mainland.
A law requiring computer manufacturers to include a program called Green Dam on every PC was delayed just hours before it was due to
come into effect.
Green Dam filters the internet and blocks access both to pornography and to politically sensitive content. Researchers also discovered that it is capable of sending reports about an individual's web use back to the authorities.
China retreated in the face of angry and sustained criticism not only from internet users but also from computer manufacturers and trade bodies. In addition, a US company called Solid Oak has filed a lawsuit against the makers of Green Dam,
charging them with having stolen the software that makes up the program.
China will delay the mandatory installation of the software on new computers, said Xinhua, the government newswire. The pre-installation was delayed as some
computer producers said such massive installation demanded extra time, it added.
A trial of the Green Dam program suggested its filters may be of limited use to worried parents.
When the software is installed, and an image
scanner activated, it blocks even harmless images of a film poster for cartoon cat Garfield, dishes of flesh-color cooked pork and on one search engine a close-up of film star Johnny Depp's face.
With the image filter off, even though searches
with words like nude are blocked, a hunt for adult websites throws up links to soft and hardcore sites.
Green Dam has not detailed how it scans images for obscene content, but computer experts have said it likely uses color and form
recognition to zoom in on potential expanses of naked flesh. When too much skin is detected, Green Dam closes all Internet browsers with no warning, sometimes flashing up a notice that the viewer is looking at harmful content.
interpretation of obscene is apparently generous enough to include the orange hue of Garfield's fur and, on the highest security settings, prevent viewers clicking through to any illustrated story on one English language news website.
software also allows users to choose what they want to filter for, and besides adult websites and violence, categories include gay and illegal activities. ay and health activists fear the blanket ban on gay content, in a country
where homosexuality is not criminalized, could damage projects including sexual health and Aids education.
Another setting allows Green Dam to take regular snapshots of a user's screen and store them for up to two weeks - ostensibly so parents
can monitor computer use by minors.
Google suffered intensive disruption in China after it was warned by the authorities to scale back its search operations.
Search functions and Gmail were inaccessible for more than an hour in a move seen by web watchers as a warning shot across
the bows by China's censors.
This is definitely a warning to Google, as well as other foreign companies, said Xiao Qiang, the founder of China Digital Times. It is also a strong warning to Chinese netizens. The government is showing its
determination to keep the internet under control.
Earlier in the day, the main state and communist party media - Xinhua and People's Daily - condemned Google for providing links to pornographic websites through its search engine. Last week,
the government ordered the US company to halt foreign website searches as a punishment.
In a rare move, the US has lodged a complaint over the tightening of censorship rules. Google agreed to self-censor in compliance with requests by local
officials after setting up a China subsidiary and locally hosted website in 2005. One reason for this controversial decision was that its services were frequently being disrupted or slowed. That has been rare since.
Blogger dancing with G, quoted from a Google.cn source, reported that the company had spent a big sum of money to buy the Green Dam service for bettering the detection of obscene content. According to the
blogger, google.cn's move is to make peace with the Chinese authority.
Moreover, Google.cn has also removed some of its search functions, including searching for overseas content and searching with associated terms.
In reaction to a series of internet censorship policy, in particular the introduction of Green Dam, a declaration has been
circulated on the net in the past two days calling netizens to express and protect their rights to anonymity on July 1st. Below are the declaration posters and English translation of the declaration.
Declaration of the Anonymous Netizens
To the Internet censors of China,
We are the Anonymous Netizens. We have seen your moves on the Internet. You have deprived your netizens of the
freedom of speech. You have come to see technology as your mortal enemy. You have clouded and distorted the truth in collaboration with Party mouthpieces. You have hired commentators to create the “public opinion” you wanted to see. All these are etched
into our collective memory. More recently, you forced the installation of Green Dam on the entire population and smothered Google with vicious slander. It is now clear as day: what you want is the complete control and censorship of the Internet. We
hereby declare that we, the Anonymous Netizens, are going to launch our attack worldwide on your censorship system starting on July 1st, 2009.
For the freedom of the Internet, for the advancement of Internetization,
and for our rights, we are going to acquaint your censorship machine with systematic sabotage and show you just how weak the claws of your censorship really are. We are going to mark you as the First Enemy of the Internet. This is not a single battle; it
is but the beginning of a war. Play with your artificial public opinion to your heart's content, for you will soon be submerged in the sea of warring netizens. Your archaic means of propaganda, your epithets borrowed straight from the Cultural Revolution
era, your utter ignorance of the Internet itself - these are the tolls of your death bell. You cannot evade us, for we are everywhere. Violence of the state cannot save you - for every one of us that falls, another ten rises. We are familiar with your
intrigues. You label some of us as the “vicious few” and dismiss the rest of us as unknowing accomplices; that way you can divide and rule. Go ahead and do that. In fact, we encourage you to do that; the more accustomed you are to viewing your netizens
this way, the deeper your self-deception.
Google has been ordered to put a halt allowing pornographic and vulgar content from being accessed through its Chinese-language search engine, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The China Internet Illegal Information Reporting
Center has told Google to make immediate changes and clean up the content available at Google.cn.
Google said it met with government officials to discuss the problem of pornographic content and material that is harmful to children on
the web in China and that it is taking all necessary steps to fix any problems with our results.
The order came one day after Chinese state television chastised Google and the center denounced it for allowing foreign Internet pornographic
Chinese PC Company Lenovo is set to be among the first PC Companies to bow to Chinese Government pressure that all PC's being made for the Chinese market after July 1, must be shipped with software that blocks access to certain Web sites.
PC Company Lenovo is set to be among the first PC Companies to bow to Chinese Government pressure that all PC's being made for the Chinese market after July 1, must be shipped with software that blocks access to certain Web sites.
move will give the Chinese Government unprecedented control over how Chinese users access the Internet. The software must be pre installed claims Chinese Government officials who have also said the move is aimed at cutting out access to pornography web
According to the wall Street Journal the Chinese government's history of censoring a broad range of Web content has raised concern among some foreign industry officials and the U.S. government that the new effort could significantly
increase the government's control over Internet access in China.
It is expected that US manufacturers like HP and Dell who have around 22% of the Chinese PC market will bow to the demands of the Chinese Government and install the new software
which was developed by Jinhui Computer System's with input from Beijing Dazheng Human Language Technology Academy. Both companies have ties to China's military and its security ministry.
It seems China is stepping back from its new censorship policy for computers. They have recently proposed that the internet filter Green Dam Youth Escort, should be installed on all new PCs sold in China
As TelecomAsia's Robert Clark writes, the
Chinese government has retreated on its controversial new web filtering plan. I'm not sure it's a full-fledged retreat yet, but there are certainly signs that the worldwide outcry is having an impact. For instance, Xinhua, the official Chinese
news agency, does seem a bit embarrassed about the whole thing. According to the government mouthpiece, China's Ministry of Industry and IT on Wednesday insisted that its notice to the PC makers and sellers does not mean the software's installation to
user's operating system is mandatory, instead, the software package should be installed on either the hard drives or a compact disc with the computers.
This is a typical pattern with off-the-wall new requirements from the Chinese bureaucracy:
Outlandish policy gets announced, outcry begins, outlandish policy gets ignored.
Update: Propaganda department orders positive comment about Green Dam
On June 10th, the Chinese central propaganda department issued a notice reminding all the media to report positively on Green Dam, Youth Escort, the filter and spyware to be installed in all PCs sold in China.
Meanwhile, netizens continue to dig
out all the flaws in the software and the company's background; Information activists and various organizations on the other hand, have compiled a number of
documents and reports on Green Dam. .
Given the propaganda department's notice, people were surprised
to see that the government's mouthpiece people.com.cn's nationalistic “strong country” forum had created a special page (now removed) and criticized the Ministry of Information Industry and Technology for taking the decision without consulting the
public. Moreover, a poll in the forum showed that more than 80% of the netizens are against the introduction of the compulsory filter on their PCs.
China is blocking access to Microsoft's new search engine, Bing, and its Hotmail email service, the company said ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
These are among several Internet services that have been blocked
for customers in China, Microsoft director of public affairs Kevin Kutz said in a statement received by AFP.
Microsoft did not say when China began blocking the sites, but Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it had been notified by Chinese
Web users that access to the websites began being blocked inside China on Tuesday.
Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the blockage of a dozen websites such as Twitter, YouTube, Bing, Flickr, Opera, Live, Wordpress and Blogger in China,
the media rights group said in a statement: The Chinese government stops at nothing to silence what happened 20 years ago in Tiananmen Square. By blocking access to a dozen websites used daily by millions of Chinese citizens, the authorities have
opted for censorship at any price rather than accept a debate about this event.
Asked to comment on the Chinese moves, a US State Department spokesman said there would be a more expansive US response on Wednesday, but underscored that US
policy supports freedom of expression. [Except of course for the countries where the US itself blocks the use of Microsoft services such as Messenger in Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan and North Korea]. Rights group
Freedom House, which is funded by the US government and private groups, condemned the Chinese government?s blocking of the websites. China's decision to block these sites today represents the latest salvo in a relentless campaign to erase the
past," executive director Jennifer Windsor said in a statement: China is blocking sites like Twitter and Flickr because they provide a means for people to circumvent government control and mobilize dissent.
Chinese province bans the use of aliases on forums and chatrooms etc
China's authorities have long censored information on the internet. But now officials in some areas take online policing even further.
China's Hubei Province has put in place a Real Name System. It requires that people use their real
names—not aliases or other screennames—when accessing web sites, blogs, podcasts, and mobile networks.
Officially the rules are supposed to deter users from writing, quote, vulgarities and malicious comments .
Video images of Chinese police beating Tibetans as they lie trussed-up on the ground may have prompted the country's censors to block access to YouTube, the popular video-sharing website.
The video released by the Tibetan government-in-exile
at the weekend quickly made its way on to the site, which has been freely accessible in China since before the Beijing Olympics in August last year.
China has offered no official confirmation that it has blocked the California-based website,
or any reason why it might want to bar its people from seeing images available on it.
The first of 3 videos shows paramilitary People's Armed Police storming the Jokhang temple in the heart of Lhasa during a riot in 1988. The police hit out at
fleeing maroon-robed monks in Tibet's holiest site, beating one to the floor.
The exiles say that the second clip was shot in or near Lhasa soon after the riot on March 14 last year when Tibetans protesting against Chinese rule rampaged through
the city's streets, setting fire to shops and offices and leaving 22 people dead. Paramilitary security forces are seen dragging Tibetans, including several monks, on the ground after they have been arrested.
Their hands and wrists tied with
rope, the Tibetans can be heard moaning as paramilitaries hit them with sticks. One man has his wrist tied over his shoulder to his other hand in an agonising position.
The final part, the most gruesome, shows a Tibetan man identified as Tendar
being treated by hospital doctors after he was beaten and tortured for trying to stop a monk being attacked in the 2008 protests.
It may be no coincidence that the blocking of YouTube occurred around the anniversary of the Tibetan unrest. The
site was blocked last year from March 15 to 23 — starting the day after the riot in Lhasa.
Chinese internet users angered by censorship in cyberspace have redressed images of famous nudes in a protest against Beijing's crackdown on vulgar online content.
Images posted include Michelangelo's statue of David - shown in a Mao
suit - while black socks and a strategically- placed necktie were added to an image of the artist's depiction of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The protest began last week after a user of a social-networking site, Douban.com,
complained that images of several paintings, including Titian's nude, Venus of Urbino , had been deleted from an online photo album. Douban administrators told the user that posting pornography online would endanger the site's operations.
In response, the organisers of the protest asked Internet users to clothe images in artworks to
save them from censors, who have shut down 1,635 websites and 200 blogs in a one-month campaign against content that harms public morality.
The protest had an almost immediate effect. Last Thursday, the Shanghai user whose
Renaissance album started the controversy said Douban had allowed images of the deleted paintings to be shown in their original form.
Amnesty International have said that their Internet website had once again been blocked in China and urged Beijing to re-establish the site immediately.
In the run-up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the London-based human rights group's website
was unblocked by the Chinese authorities,
China had rolled back a few high-profile planks of its web censorship in an apparent effort to defuse an embarrassing dispute over media freedom ahead of the August Games.
We fear the
re-blocking of Amnesty International's website indicates a widening crackdown, particularly as 2009 will see a number of important commemorations, said Roseann Rife, deputy director of Amnesty's Asia-Pacific program.
This year sees the 20th
anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in Beijing, the 30th anniversary of the 1979 Democracy Wall movement and the 50th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising.
China expanded an Internet cleanup campaign, shutting down a blog hosting site www.bullog.cn for apparently carrying harmful comments on current affairs.
The founder of bullog.cn, Luo Yonghao, told The Associated Press: I got an e-mail
from the Beijing Communications Administration this afternoon, saying the Web site contained harmful comments on current affairs and therefore will be closed .
It was not known whether the shutdown of bullog.cn was permanent. The site, home
to some outspoken social and political commentary, was closed temporarily last year during a key Communist Party congress after criticism of the meeting was posted.
12th January 2008
91 websites have now been added to China's block list in the last few days
16th January 2008
have now been added to China's block list in the last few days
A Chinese organization has listed a group of big name websites, including Google, Baidu, Sina.com and Sohu.com, which have been found to supposedly spread pornography and threaten youth's morals, and could tighten regulations on these websites.
China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Centre (CIIRC) said it has found 19 websites that provide content that includes pictures, text, video clips and web links inappropriate for Chinese people.
Major websites such as MSN, Google, Baidu, Sina, Sohu, Tecent and NetEase are on the list. Google's photo search was singled out for particular criticism.
The announcement is part of a nationwide campaign launched jointly by seven Chinese
ministries to clean up the online environment. The list identifies a number of websites that violate the government view of public morality and supposedly harm the physical and mental health of Chinese people.
CIIRC said the listed websites did
not take effective measures to take out the inappropriate content after they were noted.
41 porn sites were also said to be closed by the Chinese censors.
China is launching a national campaign to crack down on pornographic books, videos and websites, the country's press censor said.
The General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) and the National Office of Anti-Pornography and
Anti-Illegal Publications (NOAAP) agreed to step up supervision over book sellers near schools and on websites.
Li Qimin, deputy secretary general of the China National Committee for the Wellbeing of the Youths, called on the government and the
public to pay more attention to how children could be dissuaded from reading materials filled with sex and violence.
In a survey of juvenile delinquents in the southwestern Sichuan province, Li and his colleagues found that more than 93% had read
about or seen books, videos and websites promoting sex or violence.
The reason children have more access to morally questionable materials is that pirated DVDs are being illegally sold and there is greater Internet access, he said.