Chinese Internet Censorship
The Chinese government is afraid of having their authoritarian power threatened with the idea of their citizens gaining information and knowledge regarding past events and/or dictators of the country. They're aware that knowledge can become power and if the chinese citizens were able to gain certain knowledge they may revolt aginst the government in hopes of a better society in the future. The people of China should have rights to know about the history of their country. They're unable to search and obtain information regarding events such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, the independence of Taiwan and also many other topics. Some users are punished by briefly losing internet access for even searching for forbidden information.
A few of the companies involved in the censorship are Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. One of the reasons they made these arrangements with the chinese government is to get ahead in Chinas fast growing internet market. They may accomplish that but it comes at a highly immoral price. Google’s response to the censors is that they’re helping contribute to positive progress that China has already began.
The efforts of the Cinese government to block material that they consider inapropriate, or more likely threatening to their power, is unethical for multiple reasons. People should have the right to be educated about the history of their country and the PRC (People’s Republic of China) do not have that right, thanks to the cooperation of certain companies with the CPC (Communist Party of China). Google works with the CPC in exchange for more and better access in China’s very fast growing internet market. China currently has 100 million internet users and is expected to grow to 187 million within the next two years, according to a BBC News article written in 2006. Google officials realized that the decision to censor the PRC was a tough call but over all was worth it. They believe that they’re contributing to positive development of the PRC because it is more beneficial for the people to be able to use the resources allowed by the CPC than to have none at all.
The censorship is seemingly contradictory to Googles motto of “Don’t be Evil” because the PRC should have rights that they don’t and Google is helping to supress them in a way. A spokesman for a campaign group called Reporters without Borders says that it’s a shame when these companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft collaborate with the CPC because they’re greatly helping them to have such strong controls over their citizens. However Google claims that users are notified when they search a term that is forbidden and also that it would be more damaging to users if Google didn’t cooperate with the CPC censorship policy and vanish completely. Censoring is against their misson but providing no information is even more. There will be no blogging service or gmail for the protection of the chinese citizens. They are trying to prevent the CPC from obtaining personal information of citizens that may possibly be incriminating because in 2005 a journalist was arrested and jailed for 10 years with the help of Yahoo providing certain information to the CPC. There is a Google news service that will include government sanctioned media. Chinese citizens are unable to access popular current news sites such as National Public Radio, LA Times, the Washington Post, and BBC News. Also sites partaining to human rights. All of these blockages can have a negative impact of the PRC because it’s important to be educated and not just about issues in your own countries but events around the world. The CPC says that they’re using filters to block pornographic material, however less than 15% of sexual online material is blocked. People that search forbidden terms are punished by losing internet access entirely for a period of time, however there are certain people that can work around these filters and get through them.
The CPC blocks sites and terms relating to the Tiananmen Square massacre, the independence of Taiwan, or information regarding the liberation of Tibet any other material that the chinese government feels threatened by. Also users are unable to find sites run by Amnesty International or Human Rights watch. When searching the BBC newsite there will be no results but if one were to search the Falun Gong spiritual movement they would find articles condemming the event. Google was even blocked for a period of time. The U.S. government has asked Google to provide them with a list of search results however Google has failed to do so.
There are many governments in other countries that use internet censorship in their countries. However China has the highest amount of websites deemed unsuitable by their government. There are over 19,000 blocked sites, according to a study conducted by Harvard law school in 2002. Some other countries that take part in censorship are Germany and France, they censor white supremesist sites, nazi, anti-semetic, and radical Islamic websites. Myanmar, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, South Korea, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and India are among many other countries that use internet censorship. It’s unfortunate that countries feel there is a need to censor certain information from their citizens and probably happens in all countries that have something to hide, including the United States. People should be educated and free to know the history of their country. If the CPC feels like their power is threatned by their citizens having knowledge of the past then they should consider changing their authoritarian regime. The United States government may have things to hide but the citizens have the freedom to know and make choices for themselves which may not be perfect but it is better than having anything that threatens a power censored from its people.
Excellent topic area. Make sure you also look into other countries that attempt to censor the Internet.
--Professor Peterson 22:17, 10 October 2007 (MDT)
Good stuff, well written. Did it mention in any papers of people who are attempting to get around the censors though? --Julian Rivas
Yeah good paper and presentation, but it would be cool to hear more stories of people breaking the law or if there are any strong activist groups against the cencorship either in china or outside of china.
--Austin Adams 11:49, 13 December 2007 (MST)