China Shuts Sexual Health Websites to Ordinary Users

From Shanghaiist

Image from Shanghaiist

In an effort to curb poronography and other illicit web content with the Green Dam filter, the Chinese government has come up against battles with WTO regulations, Google, and increasingly angry netizens. Now the Ministry of Health (MOH) is cracking down on sex-health web content. From Reuters:

Ordinary web users in China will be banned from surfing sex-related medical and research websites from next month, amid an Internet crackdown on pornographic online content, according to new regulations.

Medical information service providers must install software to ensure only professionals can access sites that carry information and research about sex, the regulations on the website of the Ministry of Health ( said.

“It is prohibited to spread pornographic content in the name of sex-related scientific research,” the regulations said.

The rules do not specify exactly what is covered by “scientific research” into sex.

Also from the Wall Street Journal:

Sex is a taboo subject in China, but rising incomes and increasing freedom of choice for how people behave have created more interest in sexual issues and reproductive education. Many experts say education on the subject remains inadequate.

Pan Suiming, director of the Institute of Sexuality and Gender at Renmin University in Beijing, says people should have the freedom to find information about sex for themselves. The new policy on sex Web sites “is mistaken,” he says.

Liang Peiding, who runs a site that offers information on issues such as sexual dysfunctions and medicine, says the health ministry shouldn’t have the jurisdiction to monitor online content. The regulation “is not supported by the law and I think they are making a mess of it,” he said. “Currently in China, parents never talk about sex with their kids, who instead gain sexual content through pornographic films. … We can use the Internet to guide them properly.”

Under the new restrictions, sex-related sites must only use testimony from specialists in the field. Violators of the rules can be fined up to 30,000 yuan (about $4,400).

See also a New York Times story on the topic and Rebecca MacKinnon’s commentary. Follow the ongoing saga with CDT’s Green Dam and Internet Censorship tags.

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