A More Narrow Broadband and China’s Great Firewall
Dubbing China’s giant “protective” internet filter its Great Firewall is as apt a title for its censorship initiatives as any, but in the wake of the recent United Nations World Conference of Internet Telecommunications summit, the country’s broadband got squeezed once again and the government grip on information is showing no signs of letting go—ever. More restrictions have surfaced in China since the summit including one that affects the use of pseudonyms on the internet; the government will allow them after the user first provides their real name to the internet provider.
According to various broadband watch groups and news agencies, China’s extensive censorship of the internet is more advanced than anywhere else on the planet. Not only through its Great Firewall or censorship endeavors is content controlled, but internet users themselves face scrutiny and the threat of arrest for non-compliance with China’s immense body of internet regulations. What is this government blocking from its citizens? How many government officials weigh in to decide what is censored? What tier of government officials has access to unlimited content?
For many, the idea of internet censorship is certainly disdainful, but the job of taming a beast like the internet seems unfathomable and, yet, China has taken it on. Wikipedia reports that China’s internet police number about thirty thousand while NPR reports it may be as many as “50,000 strong.” Whatever the number, these police are hired to catch what the automation clamped to China’s broadband does not.
The recent packet of new rules that includes the paradoxical pseudonym regulation was reported by the BBC recently along with China’s reasoning for their tightened internet control. China’s news agency Xinhua insists that changes to policy were instated to “ensure internet information security” and to “safeguard the lawful rights and interests of citizens.” Finally, this news group confirmed that the new package of regulations will also “safeguard national security.” In many ways, it’s the national security issues that plague the government. Their internet trolls are consumed with ferreting out anyone who says anything critical about the government—and they’re willing to spend much yuans to do it.
Many other nations have raised concerns about the Chinese government’s hold over broadband and control of the internet. Many foreign businesses have voiced dismay and concern for their own privacy when doing business with Chinese firms. No one on the outside particularly wants to play by China’s stringent internet rules. Groups like Amnesty International may decry the censorship of the Chinese people, but other organizations like the Financial Times suggest that China’s attempt to identify their more than five million internet users is “unlikely” to meet with success.
How Will China Enforce Even More Rules?
China already has an adept handle on internet governance. In many cases, internet providers “self-police” out of fear the government will simply shut them down if they or their users cause the government displeasure. Chat rooms and forums are already patrolled by “big mamas” as many Chinese call them who remove any content that may find disfavor with the internet police or government officials. As many Chinese citizens have already been arrested and jailed for transgressions like social activism, the fear of more such reprisals for testing the internet laws is strong among Chinese people at all levels. China’s struggle to control the internet shows no sign of weakening and their attempts to control their citizens seem as determined as ever they were.
Laura disagrees with the stringent rules placed on Chinese citizens where broadband is concerned. She is happy with the way the internet is policed in the UK and by the amount of broadband deals that are available to British citizens.