BusinessWeek Article Offers Look at Net Censorship in China

The BusinessWeek article: The Great Firewall of China, by Ben Elgin and Bruce Einhorn offers analysis of the current state of Internet censorship in China. Must read material here.

From the article:
As Skype moves into the China market (in a partnership with TOM) words and phrases like “Falun Gong” and “Dalai Lama” and others deemed offensive will be filtered from a conversation.

Google, Yahoo, and scores of other outfits, both domestic and foreign, have made concessions to China’s censors. The latest high-profile example: In December, Microsoft’s MSN shut down a Chinese blogger’s site at the government’s request.

The article reports that the Chinese government has more than 30,000 people who “prowl Web sites, blogs, and chat rooms on the lookout for offensive content as well as scammers.”

Virtually all Net outfits on the mainland are given a confidential list of hundreds of banned terms they have to watch for.

The rules are even tougher for companies that host their sites on servers in China. This group, which has included Yahoo but not Google, are pressured to sign the government’s “Public Pledge on Self-Discipline for the Chinese Internet Industry,” the U.S. State Dept. says.

“We are trying to provide as much information as possible,” says Robin Li, chairman of, China’s top search engine. “But we need to obey Chinese law.”

Despite the power and sophistication of China’s censors, the march of technology may yet foil them. As more sites add podcasts and user-generated video, China’s monitoring efforts will become far more complicated because it’s harder to examine such material than it is to check text files.

On a related note, a new story from Congress looks askance at firms that bow to China, might also be of interest.

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