Internet Censorship in China

In the People’s Republic of China, a number of different companies, organizations and the government work to enforce Internet censorship. The government is particularly interested in stifling online opinions, due to various riots that arose with the help of organization on the web. The “Internet Police” (rumored to be around 30,000) will quickly remove critical comments on blogs and forums, and even tracks individual computer use.

Internet regulation began in China after the “Temporary Regulation” was passed in 1993. The law declares that users must connect to the Internet through one of their providers (such as ChinaNet). Anyone who wants to provide Internet access must first acquire a license.

In 1994, another Internet regulation was passed, called the Ordinance for Security Protection of Computer Information Systems. This regulation permitted the Ministry of Public Security to investigate and prosecute Internet activity. A third Internet regulation was passed in 1997, listing different types of specific, dangerous uses. The list included spreading computer viruses and making changes to network resources without permission. Persons who disobeyed these regulations would be fined for $1800 (15,000 Yuan).

Different sites are blocked at various times, depending on the city. CNN and the Washington Post continue to be blocked off and on. The BBC News is blocked. Wikipedia was blocked for awhile and is now available, but topics such as Falun Gong (a moral system related to qigong) and the Dalai Lama are still blocked. YouTube appears to be blocked at the moment, and has been blocked off and on. Other sites include Picasa, Twitter, Google and Yahoo. Blocked websites are not indexed.

The Golden Shield Project, which has cost $800 million, is often called the Great Firewall of China by other countries. This term is a play on the Great Wall of China and the network firewall. The Golden Shield Project prevents certain IP addresses from going through and also engages in DNS cache poisoning, which may prevent a site from resolving or forward the user to another site. It is unclear exactly how the censorship in China occurs, but it is certainly not manual.

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