Pornography Freed from Great Chinese Firewall

AP reports on the reemergence of porn sites on the Chinese Internet:

Word leaked out slowly, spread by web-savvy folks on Twitter: Internet porn that once was blocked by Chinese government censors was now openly available.

“Are they no longer cracking down on pornographic websites? A lot of porn sites and forums are accessible,” technology blogger William Long wrote on his feed.

…Yet eight weeks later, the porn sites are still accessible. Still unanswered are questions about whether it’s an official change in policy, a technical glitch or some sort of test by the usually disapproving Chinese internet police.

…Because a dozen or so agencies regulate the Internet in China, the porn availability may have resulted from a shifting of responsibilities, said Xiao Qiang, director of the Berkeley China Internet Project at the University of California-Berkeley.

“The Great Firewall is not that serious toward blocking porn sites. It never was,” he said. The true targets, he said, include political information, current affairs, negative reports about leaders, and anything that may trigger a protest.

“That kind of information is where the censorship focus is really,” Xiao said. “Porn, they’re just halfheartedly doing it.”

Yet Xinhua insists that fighting porn remains a priority for Internet cops:

China has established a special working group for coordinating a nationwide campaign to sweep out pornography and other illegal online publications.

Officials with government agencies, including the police force and other law enforcement powers in attendance at the meeting, were asked to not only examine websites but also trace the sources of online

pornography and break the profit chain from producing online pornography and lewd information.

Operators of Internet websites, servers, telecom and even advertising agents will be under scrutiny for any pornography or lewd information spread by their services, according to a statement released at the meeting.