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China Tightens Online Filters

Interesting reports coming from the New York Times earlier last week that there are some indications that the Chinese government has been stepping up efforts to aggressively filter and censor content online. As they report:

Since early January, the government has been waging a decency campaign that has closed more than 1,500 Web sites found to contain sex, violence or “vulgarity.” Numerous other sites, including Google, have responded by removing any pages that might offend puritanical sensibilities.

But indecency is often in the eye of the beholder. Last month, Bullog, a popular bastion for freewheeling bloggers, was shut down for what the authorities said were its “large amounts of harmful information on current events,” according to a notice posted by the site’s founder, Luo Yonghao. When Mr. Luo briefly resuscitated the site on Sunday using an overseas server, it was blocked again.

Many people here believe that Bullog may have crossed a line by posting information about Charter 08, an online petition calling for democratic reforms. Organizers say the manifesto has garnered thousands of signatures since its introduction in December. Within the Chinese Internet firewall, it is now nearly impossible to find a copy.

It’ll be interesting to see how this back-and-forth game between China’s online public (which, at 300 million, is the largest in the world) and the government evolve, particularly as the worldwide economic downturn sparks increased dissent and anger against the ruling Communist party online.

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One Response to “China Tightens Online Filters”

  1. The, surprisingly somewhat belated, report on the Granular Computing Conference GrC09′ « Keet blog Says:

    […] filters china”, one of the top hits returned was the accessible Harvard blog called “internet and democracy blog“, but the first hit returned by the Google search was a news item at National Public Radio […]