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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Blog Censorship in China

I just read a New York Times article addressing the issue of blog censorship in China. Apparently Microsoft is being asked by the Chinese Government to shut down some blogs with content deemed inappropriate by their censorship standards.

This definitely goes along with our Tuesday discussion about what legal rights are allotted to bloggers. However, it brings up an interesting point that we did not discuss, because it probably does not effect any of us.

But Julien Pain, head of the Internet desk at Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based press freedom group that has been monitoring Internet censorship and the imprisonment of bloggers in China called the development an "illusory victory."

"There's a good side and a bad side," Mr. Pain said. "It's clear that they've begun thinking about their ethical responsibility. But it also shows that they accept censorship, and that they believe in this new form of the Internet, in which the rights of users will vary according to their geographic origin."

This, he said, "is in direct contradiction with the original idea of what the Internet was supposed to be — something with no barriers, no boundaries."

It is really a complex issue, and I just wanted to see what everyone else thought about it. It is interesting because the internet is truly a global phenomenon, but freedom of expression is not.


At Thu Feb 02, 09:37:00 AM, Blogger Nicole said...

It's hard to say what is right. By our western standards this censorship seems shocking. But, alternatively, is it appropriate for American companies to refuse to comply with the Chinese government and, in doing, to impose our standards on them. At the same time, it is reasonable or realistic to expect that American capitalist countries wouldn't comply, even if it is censorship, and, in doing, lose a huge potential profit. The problem is the fact that the internet creates a boundary-less community that causes issues with jurisdiction. What I found most interesting, though, was the question raised about whether the Chinese blogs should be shut down to the whole world. In the article, Microsoft general counsel Bradley L. Smith said, "One of the things we've looked at is, How far does a government's jurisdiction reach?" He continued, "In most countries, a government has jurisdiction over the flow of information to its users, but no country has legal jurisdiction over the flow of information to users over the rest of the world." The issue of what Chinese citizens have the right to say/post and hear/read, is entirely differnet fromtthe issue of what the rest of the world has the right to hear and read. This issue poses a threat not only to the freedoms of the Chinese, but also to the the rest of the internet and blogging community throughout the world. Should we be denied the exposure to ideas and perspectives because they conflict with the standards of a society that is not our own?

At Thu Feb 02, 10:11:00 AM, Blogger Nicole said...

According to today's MSNBC poll ( which asked "Should U.S.-based Internet companies, such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, comply with Chinese censorship laws?", of 321 respondents at 10 am:

38% said "No. But politicians who keep giving China "most favored nation" status are hardly in a position to point fingers."

29% said "Absolutely not. Censorship is censorship, no matter what legal justification they give."

16 % said "Yes. Isn't the whole point to expose China to capitalism? Expanding to new markets is what capitalism is about."

14% said "Maybe not. But why pick on Internet companies and China when other U.S. businesses do much worse abroad?"

4% said "Yes. Some presence by U.S. firms is better than none."

The article that accompanied this poll can be found at:

At Thu Feb 02, 03:09:00 PM, Blogger KR said...

That poll is really interesting, thanks for sharing that. This whole issue reinforces the observation that corporations will do whatever it takes to make headway in a closed market. Shame on Google for losing their innocence and their inspiring mantra of "Do no evil." At least they made a go at it, eh? (sigh)

I honestly think China will be in a civil war sometime in the near future. There's too big a divide between the "have's" and the "have not's" and some kind of balance will have to be restored before long. The new movement of young educated Chinese men and women back to their country will undoubtedly enlighten a portion of the population that didn't know how badly they were being treated. I think the more injustice the young generations of Chinese citizens face, the faster they will lose patience. Blogging censureship is just another log on the protesters' bonfire.


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