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China Closes Down The Internet– make the country more like North Korea

Posted by Author on December 26, 2009

Gordon G. Chang, The Forbes, 12.25.09 –

This week, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released regulations, dated Dec. 15, requiring the registration of all Web sites.

MIIT’s justification was the need to eliminate sexual content. As a Ministry spokesman stated, “This is about mobile pornography, it’s not referring to any other issue.”

The explanation, however comforting it sounds, is disingenuous. The wording of the rules is broad enough to cover all sites, domestic and foreign, whether or not they carry sex-themed material. “Domain names that have not registered will not be resolved or transferred,” the regulations state. In other words, unregistered sites will become unavailable to users in China.

Today, Beijing blocks a multitude of sites, in effect creating a blacklist. Under the new system, there will be a “whitelist”: only registered sites will be accessible inside the country. Once the regulation is fully implemented, China will no longer have an Internet. In effect, it will downgrade to an intranet. At this moment, there are perhaps 270 million Web sites across the world, and only a miniscule number of them will register with the Chinese authorities.

Of course, the whitelist system, which is to be implemented in three phases next year, is completely incompatible with a modern society such as China’s. Already, the country’s traditionally noisy netizens are complaining. They flooded a Twitter-like service run by the Communist Party’s flagship publication People’s Daily, causing the site to be immediately taken down. Moreover, official publications have expressed caution about putting the sweeping rules into effect. Foreign governments are bound to get in on the act because the expansive regulations, by blocking access to business sites, probably constitute a violation of China’s trade obligations.

MIIT tried a similar stunt this spring with its requirement that the so-called Green Dam-Youth Escort filtering software be installed in all computers sold in China from July 1. The Ministry justified this rule on pornography grounds, but many suspect the software was intended to block unwanted political content. After an uproar–from both home and abroad–Chinese authorities admitted they had made a mistake and backed down.

Yet they did not give up. Earlier this month, the country’s top police officer, Meng Jianzhu, publicly said that China’s Internet monitoring–perhaps the most effective in the world–was not good enough. At the time, it appeared he was just moaning, as public security officials have been doing for years. But this week it became clear Meng was getting the public ready for a really spectacular set of regulations……. (more details from The Forbes)

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