The Great Firewall of China

China installs speed bumps on the information superhighway.


J.A. Getzlaff
February 22, 2000 10:00PM (UTC)

From Chengdu to Beijing and everywhere in between, over nine
million Chinese are logging on to the Internet, much to the
chagrin of mainland authorities, who are scrambling to find ways
to control all inbound and outbound traffic on the information
superhighway.

In early February, according to a Reuters report, 127 Internet
cafes in Shanghai were forced to close and their computers were
confiscated because, said the Shanghai News, the cafes had failed
to obtain licenses. The newspaper quoted an information
department official as saying, "Unlicensed Internet cafes avoid
paying taxes and disseminate pornographic CDs which corrupt the
minds of young people."

Advertisement:

Is the government truly afraid their youth will log on to www.persiankitty.com? Or are
they really trying to keep them from accessing www.amnesty.org?

Although porn might rattle a few innocent youngsters, it is
unlikely to cause civil unrest, which is what has the government
really worried. So worried, in fact, that it has just passed a
slew of laws making citizens who operate chat rooms, news groups
and e-mail services responsible for any security breach that may
occur via their services.

Since citizens who are charged with leaking state secrets usually
spend significant portions of their lives in jail, this
crackdown could effectively shut down the Chinese on-ramp to the
Web.

Advertisement:

Can you say www.repression.com?


J.A. Getzlaff

J.A. Getzlaff's Daily Planet appears every weekday. Do you have a tip or tale for J.A.? Send it to DailyPlanet@salon.com.

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