OpenNet Initiative: Filtering by Domestic Blog Providers in China

OpenNet Initiative, a group of university researchers just published their latest study on domestic blog providers in China. Chinese blogsphere has been growing rapidly, but the study gives a outline of what censors had done. Here is their report:

“Weblogs, most often called “blogs” have become one of the fastest growing segments of the Internet. The idea is simple: blogs allow everyone to have an online journal, to share their experiences while requiring a minimum of technical knowledge. Everyone can become a pundit, critic or proponent of any issue. There are an estimated 300,000 bloggers in China, and thousands of new blogs are created daily. In addition to bloggers who use the service as an online diary, there are those who use blogs as a form of “participatory journalism” discussing news, politics and government policy. The Chinese government actively regulates and restricts the Internet, including blogs, by employing a combination of legal and technological mechanisms to maintain information control. ”

“Over the last year, the Chinese government has focused increasing attention on the control of blogs. Three popular domestic blog providers in China were temporarily shutdown in March 2004. The websites of the three blog providers, blogcn.com, blogbus.com and blogdriver.com, were not filtered or blocked through technical means, rather they were closed down. The home pages of each of the sites carried a message indicating that their services were temporarily suspended. The blog providers were reportedly closed down because they contained discussions concerning “a letter” written by Dr. Jiang Yanyong pertaining to the Tiananmen Square massacre. (2) Dr. Jiang’s letter calls upon the Communist Party to admit it made a mistake in the way the protestors in Tiananmen Square in 1989 were treated and openly contradicts official government figures and statements concerning the SARS outbreak in China. (3) The blog providers were later re-opened after purging the sensitive content. One of the blog providers, Blogbus, asked its users “not to post any news about current events, sensitive content or political comments.” (4) Although the blog providers have been re-opened, all three have implemented a filtering mechanism to control the content of blog posts. ”

January 18, 2005 9:14 AM
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