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Internet Censorship in China

Tulika Nair Jul 14, 2019
In a world where access to Internet is ubiquitous, Internet censorship seems to have jumped out of another era, in China. But it is a reality and the regulations are being tightened with passing time.
Bill Gates once very famously said, "The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow." But if the Internet censorship continues at the rate prevalent today, chances are China will more or less remain self-banished from this global village.
According to different rules and regulations that govern the use of different websites, the information available to Chinese citizens is hugely regulated.
While there are no specific laws to regulate Internet censorship, many administrative regulations (more than 60) implement different barriers to regulate information access. Internet censorship in China is not valid to places with independent judiciary like Hong Kong and Macau.

How the Internet has been Gagged in China

If you trace the history of Internet censorship in the country, you will realize that the first instance of regulation of the world wide web started in the year 1996, when the government of China decide to pass three different rules and regulations. Today the country has one of the biggest networks for Internet regulation in place.
The technology they use is Golden Shield project and restricts the rights citizens have, to view thousands of websites. While with many websites there is no access allowed, there are others where information is restricted. For a normal citizen to be connected to Internet from a cafe, you need to supply the authorities of the place with many personal data.
The technologie the Chinese use to restrict Internet access are known to be the most advanced in the world. It is possible for authorities in China to block individual websites (mostly with pornographic content) and screen content on wikipedia and YouTube, and keep a check on number of times a person logs on, the sites he visits, and information he procures.
According to statistics, there are as many as 50,000 individuals who monitor Internet access of Chinese citizens. According to the non-governmental organization, Amnesty International, "China has the largest recorded number of imprisoned journalists and cyber-dissidents in the world."
Most of these citizens have been arrested for a number of reasons that range between communication with foreign-based groups, opposition of the Falun Gong, interest in signing petitions for social causes, opposition of social evils like corruption, etc.
So how does the Chinese government keep a check on Internet usage and how does it violate Internet privacy? Very simply, they have Internet filters in place that scan the data on websites and raise red flags on coming across specified, sensitive words like Tiananmen Square etc.
If a user tries to search this and the filters catch it, the connection is broken immediately to prevent any access. Censorship has seen an increase with the proliferation of Internet technology. In fact last year a proposal that was revoked after wide scale protests, allowed the government to sell new computers, pre-installed with a software for censorship.
While the list of topics to be regulated may keep changing, there are some constant themes and topics that include information access on the Falun Gong, Tiananmen square, torture, Taiwan. News of how China and Internet companies battle over censorship reached its pinnacle when in March, 2010, Google redirected all Google China searches to Google Hong Kong.
Since then, after protests from the Chinese government, Google users are given the option to be redirected to Google Hong Kong. This was done to avoid a revocation of Google's Internet content provider license.
In recent times, the Chinese government has undertaken drives to reduce the criticism that they are faced with due to their censorship policies. Most of these neutralizing efforts, though, has come in the form of deletion of those comments from forums and blogs that were critical of the government's regulation.
The country's policies has received a lot of international attention, especially when Barack Obama addressed students in Shanghai and said, "I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable. They can begin to think for themselves."