Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A Virtual Tianenmen Square: China Muzzling Websites and Blogs

Courageously leading the people's march into the nineteenth century, the communist government of mainland China is seeking to take control of all Chinese-based websites and blogs. That could never happen here. Unless the Federal Election Commission gets its way.

From the Associated Press:
SHANGHAI, China - Authorities have ordered all China-based Web sites and blogs to register or be closed down, in the latest effort by the communist government to police the world of cyberspace

The government has long required all major commercial Web sites to register and take responsibility for Internet content — at least 54 people have been jailed for posting essays or other content deemed subversive online.

But blogs, online diaries, muckraking Web sites and dissident publishing have been harder to police. According to cnblog.org, a Chinese Web log host company, the country has about 700,000 such sites.

Now, however, the government has developed a new system to track down and close those caught violating the rules, the ministry said.

"There's a 'Net Crawler System' that will monitor the sites in real time and search each Web address for its registration number," said one document listing questions and answers about the new rules. "It will report back to the MII if it finds a site thought to be unregistered."

The press advocacy group Reporters Without Borders protested the new rules, saying they would force people with dissenting opinions to shift Web sites overseas, where mainland Chinese users might be unable to access them due to government censorship filters.

The Paris-based group said that in May, many bloggers in China received e-mail messages telling them to register to avoid having their blogs declared illegal.