China gains support of tech firms to control internet usage

By Lee Kaelin on November 7, 2011, 1:30 PM

The heads of 39 Chinese companies, which include Baidu and Alibaba, have agreed to stop the spread of "harmful information" after attending a three-day government workshop to discuss concerns about internet content.

The meetings were presided over by Wang Chen, director of the State Council Information Office, the government's propaganda and information arm. According to the BBC, the Xinhua news agency reported that all parties had agreed to "conscientiously safeguard the broadcasting of positive messages online."

During the discussions, which ended on Saturday, the heads of the 39 firms agreed to "strengthen self-management and self-discipline." According to the report they will "resolutely curb internet rumours, internet pornography, internet fraud and the illegal spread of harmful information" to mould the web into a "positive and beautiful spiritual home."

Chinese Industry and Information Technology minister Miao Wei also ordered internet companies to increase their investment in "tracking surveillance," highlighting the growing anxiety among Chinese top brass about the ever-increasing influence of the web. The boom in blogs, called Weibo in Chinese, and the potential they have to tear at the seams of government censorship with its 500-million plus internet users faces ever-increasing scrutiny.

Residents of China will not find these latest agreements surprising. The Chinese government has long fought to control the content viewable by its population, preferring instead to use the internet as a tool to spread propaganda and control oppression. In a country where freedom of speech is practically non-existent, the openness of the internet poses a huge risk to the control they exert on their people.

Last week the Chinese military were revealed by a U.S. congressional report as having been suspected by the U.S. government of hacking into two satellites in 2007 and 2008 via a satellite station located in Norway.




User Comments: 17

Got something to say? Post a comment
Guest said:

I have always been opposing China's media censorship, then today as I was reading the article, it dawned on me that we do the same thing - controlling that we think is morally or socially unacceptable, such as drugs. (If you think marijuana is ok, then why not ligalize cocaine and heroin too, right?) And the lack of or too much of inappropriate info could have dire consequences, eg. WikiLeaks, sites publishing SSNs, etc.

So, what do you think is morally right? XXX Porn easily accessible to 5 year-old elementary kids?

Guest said:

"..and the illegal spread of harmful information" to mould the web into a "positive and beautiful spiritual home."

CouldnĀ't agree more.

Guest said:

@ the guest above, I am very pleased you are not in charge of any country.

Guest said:

@First 2 guests, I got ninjad, you both scare me. I am glad neither of you are in control of any country.

Guest said:

@ First 3 guests. I got pwned, you three scare me. I am glad none of you are in control of any country.

Guest said:

We are Guests. We are Legion. We see you. We do not forget. We love Techspot. Expect dumb things from us. Expect smart things from us. We like chickens. Expect the unexpected.

Leeky Leeky said:

The Guest comment of the week goes to.....

We are Guests. We are Legion. We see you. We do not forget. We love Techspot. Expect dumb things from us. Expect smart things from us. We like chickens. Expect the unexpected.

Guest said:

@Guest 3, 4, and 5 above. I am not saying it's right for them to block porn entirely. I simply ask who are we to judge other cultures by our own values, and to tell them what is appropriate for them? If the Chinese people want it so badly, then they should fight for it, not outsiders. BTW your close-mindedness might just make you a worse ruler that me..

Guest #1

Leeky Leeky said:

@guest above,

I think there is a huge difference between the people of China wanting to have a pornographic free internet, than the government forcing it on them.

I personally feel the internet should be open and unrestricted. Those that use it should exercise their own restrictions (and parents in the case of children) in regards to content they wish to view. I do not think it is up to any government to exercise any control over content that is perfectly legal to view.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I am amazed at how quickly this became a troll thread, but the issue isn't morality, it is the government propaganda machine forcing their will upon the population. Leeky is 100% right. Information shouldn't be censored, yet hundreds of countries including the "free" U.S. and U.K., censor/control the flow of information every day.

If the Chinese sheeple continue allowing their commie government to tell them the world is full of unicorns, glitter, and rainbow flavored bubblegum, then shame on them.

Guest said:

Wendingo is dead on.

"positive and beautiful spiritual home" translation "echoes perfectly the superficial vision of the Chinese puppet masters"

...Chinese Industry and Information Technology minister Miao Wei also ordered internet companies to increase their investment in "tracking surveillance"... this is the real meat of it. The ability for the autocracy to locate and crush dissenting views more effortlessly.

No country is perfect but don't fool yourselves, the current Chinese regime is the Orwellian nightmare made real.

Guest said:

"positive and beautiful spiritual home" translation "echoes perfectly the superficial vision of the Chinese puppet masters"

(trying to quote the guy who said this.)

currently the chinese can be nothing more than puppets in the mess that is "Chairman Moa's" now corrupted or run away dream.

ihaveaname said:

^ I didn't know there was a big New Zealand bird as chairman....

"currently the chinese can be nothing more than puppets in the mess that is "Chairman Moa's" now corrupted or run away dream."

"No country is perfect but don't fool yourselves, the current Chinese regime is the Orwellian nightmare made real."

Now, I'm going to hazard a guess and say that neither of you have actually been to China. Believe it or not, there aren't any telescreens there, and the Chinese language is as infuriatingly complex as ever. The internet is censored, in that you need to install this other browser which everyone there uses to get around the blocks. But these are trifles compared to the big point which I don't think any of you like.

Most Chinese people are happy with their government.

They are happy with the government because of the progress it has made in pulling people out of poverty.

Now, you guys can yell 'unethical practices' and 'censorship is oppression' till the cows come home but these facts will stay, no matter how much you ignore them. Do you know what China was like as recently as the mid-seventies? It was bad. Pork was eaten on a per-year basis. My own father's daily trip to the primary school involved a swim. Compare this to modern-day China, whose average wealth has allowed it to recently become the world's largest car market, whose public transport system is amongst the most advanced in the world, whose primary and secondary education rival the world's finest. This is one hell of an achievement, and comparing the result of it all to some Orwellian dystopia is worse than ignorant. I'm not saying that the Chinese government has no problems - it does, very serious ones - but I do think you guys holding up the banner of free speech should get a grip on reality.

And seriously, if people are saying things like "...the chinese can be nothing more than puppets...", can you seriously expect the Chinese public to sympathise with Western ideals?

Guest said:

Good.

It is high time somebody "clean up" the Internet.

I just love BS comments about "morally right" and culture this culture that. Some things are just plain wrong and that is the end of it.

Even gaming has been reduced to a shadow of it's former self. I can deal with the odd sh*t or f*ck but the current situation has gotten way out of hand. Homo nonsense / blasphemy / smut - what is next.

Western countries are falling on their faces because of their descent in to immorality. Argue all you want - hell you can play with yourself in front of your porn ridden computer with all your "borrowed" software, it won't change a thing.

;-)

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm not for censorship but if its not appropriate for kids then it should be locked away somewhere. The Internet is lumped into one great big search. There is no organization to the material that can be viewed by anyone.

Cable companies scrambled adult channels years ago making them accessible only by those that ordered them. Cable company channels was organized and the Internet can be too.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Wendig0 said:

I am amazed at how quickly this became a troll thread, but the issue isn't morality, it is the government propaganda machine forcing their will upon the population. Leeky is 100% right. Information shouldn't be censored, yet hundreds of countries including the "free" U.S. and U.K., censor/control the flow of information every day.

If the Chinese sheeple continue allowing their commie government to tell them the world is full of unicorns, glitter, and rainbow flavored bubblegum, then shame on them.

Unfortunately exactly the same thing happen everywhere else as well including the so called 'democracies'. I haven't seen any movement which is energetic enough to change things there, so what seems to be the big deal?

caravel said:

China can pretty much do as they please... the west will rattle sabres and complain about human rights abuses, such as Tibet, the number of executions and restrictions on freedom of speech and imprisonment of political prisoners, but on the other hand they will happily continue to trade with china and even expand existing trade agreements and form new ones. So long as china are pumping money into the European economy and providing incredibly cheap consumer electronics I doubt many western governments really give a damn what they do to their own people in their own country...

Now if only some of these western governments could adopt this same line of thinking elsewhere...

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