Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Content Regulation in China

The issue of content regulation in China was mentioned in this blog last year. In the last few weeks, this issue has once again pushed into the international media. The Washington Post recently published an excellent series of stories on this issue, titled The Click That Broke a Government's Grip.

Here are some other recent stories relating to content regulation in China:
  • The Chinese government continues to prosecute people for subversion for online writings. For example, on Tuesday the AP reported that a Chinese journalist has been whose reports on rural poverty and unemployment riled local officials has been charged with subversion after posting essays on the internet.
  • China is cracking down on spam and piracy.
  • Much to the chagrin of the US government, various internet companies have agreed to China's censorship demands.

For a detailed study, see this report from the OpenNet Initiative: Internet Filtering in China in 2004-2005.

Of course, the Chinese government defends its right to regulate the internet in the way it does.

There are really two issues here. First, how successful has China's regulation been? And second, assuming the Chinese government's attempts at regulation have been relative successful, should a government be able to regulate what its citizens can access through the internet? So basically, the first is a practical or technical question - does it work? - while the second is the moral or philosophical question on the role of government and the value of free speech? Any thoughts or different perspectives? Who would defend what China is doing?

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