China Ramps Up Internet Controls, Again

The New York Times reports this morning that China has recently taken additional steps to control the Internet. Under the new measures China has shut down 700 Web sites, prohibited anyone but officially registered businesses from obtaining a .cn domain and limited third parties from providing content over China’s largest mobile network. China argues that the changes are to improve security, protect children from pornography and limit piracy (which is odd considering how much pirated content is tolerated by the government). However, many see the measures as a means to limit political opposition and further censor the Internet. The Times writes:

In various pronouncements, top propaganda and security officials have stressed anew the need to police the Internet on ideological and security grounds.

The ‘Internet has become an important avenue through which anti-China forces infiltrate, sabotage and magnify their capabilities for destruction,’ wrote the public security minister, Meng Jianzhu, in the Dec. 1 issue of Qiushi, a magazine published by the Communist Party‚Äôs Central Committee.

‘Therefore it represents a new challenge to the public security authority in maintaining national security and social stability,’ he said.

And as our friend Rebecca MacKinnon says in the article:

‘The trend in China is toward tighter and tighter control,’ said Rebecca MacKinnon, an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Hong Kong who specializes in Chinese Internet issues. ‘They are basically improving their censorship mechanisms.’

These moves follow previous, less-than-successful attempts to place filtering software on all computers in China, Green Dam and Blue Dam. Of course, China already has what the OpenNet Initiative calls one of the most sophisticated filtering regimes in the world.

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