Steve McGookinÔºö Chinese Whispers


Claiming that the aim was to stamp out the spread of information which “endangers” the country–likely pornography as much as political criticism–the Chinese authorities introduced the registration requirement in March, and it’s reported that as many as three-quarters of all Chinese-based bloggers whose sites are hosted by domestic telecom providers have signed up.

After the telecom operators informed their users that the registration procedure was mandatory, bloggers last month started getting e-mail from their hosts telling them that if they failed to register, their blogs would become illegal.

Overt censorship betrays a lack of confidence in a society’s fundamental values.

To believe that the democratizing spread of technology that facilitates mass information access can be halted, Canute-like, simply by employing vast numbers of people to monitor online activity (who might themselves otherwise be “outside the tent”), or requiring an ID card to use a public terminal, or simply pulling the plug on opinions you don’t like, is surely–in the digital age–a mark of institutional na√Øvet√©.

With this latest crackdown, the Chinese Communist Party appears to be reacting to forces that it can only understand in a context of their constraint.


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