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China’s Internet Censorship Model Spreading

Posted by Author on June 7, 2007

By Richard Spencer in Beijing, telegraph.co.uk, UK, 07/06/2007-

Dozens of countries are copying China’s methods of censoring of the internet, Amnesty International has warned.

In advance of a live webcast to discuss internet freedom, Amnesty warned that censorship was a “virus” that was infecting countries round the world.

“The virus of internet repression is spreading,” said Tim Hancock, Amnesty’s international campaigns director.

“The ‘Chinese model’ of an Internet that allows economic growth but not free speech or privacy is growing in popularity, from a handful of countries five years ago to dozens of governments today who block sites and arrest bloggers.”

China’s 144 million internet users face the most sophisticated controls in the world.

Software filters hundreds of millions of emails, web-pages, and mobile phones text messages for key words that trigger either automatic blocks or further investigation by censors.

In addition, internet companies in China, including overseas firms, have to operate systems of self-censorship.

The Chinese government claims that rules are in line with international norms of countering crime such as pornography, but does not deny that they also cover political activity.

Technology has also been used to track down authors, and China has the highest number of internet journalists in jail of any country.

Shi Tao, a reporter on a central Chinese newspaper who was honoured with a Golden Pen of Freedom award by the World Association of Newspapers this week, is serving ten years in jail for sending details of one censorship order to Human Rights in China by email.

His details were handed over to police by the American internet firm Yahoo!, which drew attention to the agreements given by companies such as Google and Microsoft to comply with Chinese censorship laws, and to the filtering technology sold to China by companies like Cisco.

Amnesty said such practices could change the internet “beyond all recognition” as they are taken up by other countries.

It cited research by an academic study group, the Open Net Initiative, that at least 25 national governments employed filtering technology for censorship.

They included Iran, Burma, and Saudi Arabia but also western-oriented democracies such as India and South Korea.

It also highlighted the fate of Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, a 22-year-old Egyptian blogger, who was sentenced to four years imprisonment in February.

“More and more governments are realising the utility of controlling what people see online,” Mr Hancock said.

“Major Internet companies, in an attempt to expand their markets, are colluding in these attempts.

“At the moment, we turn on our computer and assume we can see all that there is online. The fear is that we will only be able to access what someone wants us to see.”

The webcast discussion will feature the dotcom entrepreneur Martha Lane-Fox and Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, the internet encyclopaedia, which is one of thousands of sites permanently blocked in China.

original report The Telegraph

3 Responses to “China’s Internet Censorship Model Spreading”

  1. Wikipedia no longer censored in China?

    Some good news for Wikipedia Fans in China. The popular online encyclopaedia seems to be available at least in Beijing, I don’t know about other parts in China.
    Wikipedia has been censored in China since October 2005 (with a short interruption in…

  2. […] I’ve been catching up on some old feeds from a blog that I read about the problems in China. I had to cycle thru 106 feeds but I can thankfully say that I am thru them all. I just want to point out one post about censorship on blogging in China. Take a read. […]

  3. mommyzabs said

    horrible.

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