China tightens online cotrols

China is ending 2012 by tightening controls on internet speech and privacy.

Already one of the most restrictive governments in the online world, the Chinese government is ramping up efforts to silence dissidents and limit access to what are perceived as subversive influences. Historically, communications media have always played a role in national civic identity – whether to unify or to divide. Just as the printing press fostered early nation-states and the popular overthrow of royal authority, so today television and the internet are thought to foster division within nations around the world. As today’s Al Jazeera reports,imgres

“China has unveiled tighter Internet controls, including legalizing the deletion of posts or pages which are deemed to contain “illegal” information and requiring service providers to hand over such information to the authorities for punishment.

“The rules suggest that the new leadership, headed by Communist Party chief Xi Jinping, will continue muzzling the often scathing, raucous online chatter in a country where the Internet offers a rare opportunity for debate.

“The new regulations, announced by the official Xinhua news agency on Friday, also require Internet users to register with their real names when signing up with network providers, though, in reality, this already happens. Chinese authorities and Internet companies such as Sina Corp have long since closely monitored and censored what people say online, but the government has now put measures such as deleting posts into law.

“’Service providers are required to instantly stop the transmission of illegal information once it is spotted and take relevant measures, including removing the information and saving records, before reporting to supervisory authorities,’ the rules state. The restrictions follow a series of corruption scandals amongst lower-level officials exposed by Internet users, something the government has said it is trying to encourage. Chinese Internet users already cope with extensive censorship measures, especially over politically sensitive topics like human rights and elite politics, and popular foreign sites Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube
are blocked.”


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