Crowdsourced Anti-Corruption Websites Return … Briefly

On Monday, China Daily reported that a number of anti-corruption sites, on which users could record bribes paid to officials, were back on the web after being forced offline in June:

The websites, calling themselves various combinations of names to express the idea of “I-made-a-bribe”, resumed online services quietly in mid-July after getting permission to register with the Internet regulatory authorities.

“I was a little surprised that its registration could be approved,” said Xiaoxiaosheng, founder of one of the first bribery-exposing websites, who wanted to keep his website low-key and only be identified by his online nickname.

Chinese laws require all Internet content providers in China to register the websites they run with the local communication management bureaus. Websites that fail to get permission from the authorities will be forced offline.

Xiaoxiaosheng said he did not have too much hope for approval after the site was forced to shut down in late June because of the lack of that very registration.

According to Penn-Olson today, however, the sites’ resurrection appears to have been short-lived:

This Sina Tech story reports that another anti-Corruption site called “I Bribed (woxinghuile.info)” (not one of the four “I bribed” sites we wrote about on Tuesday) was granted a license on July 20th, but the license was cancelled on August 9th and the site’s owner announced on Sina Weibo that it was dead for good. This was despite the fact that the site had been toned down somewhat since it’s initial June debut. Its motto was changed from “Uncover the true faces of corrupt government officials” to “Reveal the harmfulness of corruption” and a disclaimer had been added stating that the site did not accept any form of official report and that users should not interfere in the personal business of others. Apparently, these changes were not enough.

Another site, titled “I Bribed Official Chinese Site”, which we did mention in our report on Tuesday but did not link to, was shut down just a few hours after the media (us included) announced it had been reopened. That site had also made significant revisions and had been renamed “Transparent China”, but it lost its new license just a day after it had received it.