I opened up TweetDeck this morning to a volley of tweets about China’s new white paper on Internet policy. The paper outlines the history and development of the Internet in China and goes on to pledge that the “Chinese government is determined to unswervingly safeguard the freedom of speech on the Internet enjoyed by Chinese citizens” (as long as this speech is “in accordance with the law,” of course).
The paper outlines the history and development of the Internet in China and goes on to pledge that the “Chinese government is determined to unswervingly safeguard the freedom of speech on the Internet enjoyed by Chinese citizens” (as long as this speech is “in accordance with the law,” of course).
Hilariously, one of the avenues the document champions for this free speech is Twitter, which has been blocked off and on in China for several years. The Wall Street Journal points out that this may be a translation error, as the Chinese version refers simply to “microblogging,” but still. Awkward.
According to the Chinese government, Namibia — a southern African country with a population of 2 million — does not exist.
Government censors ordered Chinese search engines to show no search results for the country’s name this week, following a corruption scandal involving a Chinese tech company’s dealings with Namibia’s government.
The company, Nutech, was formerly run by the son of Chinese president Hu Jintao. It is under two separate investigations by Namibian and European Union officials for allegedly using illegal methods, including bribery and unfair trade practices, to secure a USD55.3 million contract to sell cargo scanners to the Namibian government.
Though Jintao’s son is not a suspect in the case, government censors have reacted swiftly to the investigation, shutting down two Chinese tech news sites and blocking a list of keywords including “Hu Haifeng, Namibia, Namibia bribery investigation, Yang Fan bribery investigation, Nuctech bribery investigation, [and] southern Africa bribery investigation.” Searching for these words on Chinese search engine Baidu.com produces an error message [ZH] that can be translated as, “Search results may not be in line with the relevant laws and regulations and policies, not shown.”
The past two months have been busy ones for Chinese censors. In early June the government blocked access to Twitter, Hotmail and Flickr in preparation for the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Less than a week later, the news broke that the government would begin requiring all PCs sold in the country to come equipped with Internet filtering software. And in July, Internet access was completely shut down in the capital of the Xinjiang region after ethnic riots that left nearly 200 people dead.
For more information on China’s Internet filtering practices, check out the OpenNet Initiative’s recently released China country profile.
The software, known as Green Dam Youth Escort, ostensibly protects children from harmful information online by filtering out sites that contain prohibited keywords. It will be mandatory on every computer sold in China after July 1, 2009.
The latest news in the world of Internet censorship is about China’s Green Dam software, which ostensibly protects Chinese children by filtering out pornographic Web sites.
China has recently announced that all PCs sold in the country must come with the software, beginning on July 1, 2009. Critics say Green Dam will be used to crack down on Internet users, making it even more difficult to access uncensored information from China.
In addition to blocking sites that include keywords such as “pornography” and, somewhat less justifiably, “touch” and “play,” the software also filters out images that have a high percentage of “skin colored” pixels. Oiwan Lam at Global Voices rounded up Chinese reactions to the software; among them was this gem:
How much flesh color does it take to make something “pornography”? I went on the Internet to check out some animal photos. A lovely little naked pig was sent onto the black list. Pitiful little pig! I was curious, so I looked up some photos of naked African women. Oh, they were not censored!
So apparently, it’s morally reprehensible to look up animals or, say, kids playing soccer, but African porn is totally okay!
For the latest news on Green Dam, check out the #greendam hashtag on Twitter.