Friday, November 04, 2005

法律有话说

That is a reference to "Opinio Juris" in Chinese. Links to Opinio Juris by other blogs are always welcome. But when a Chinese blogger successfully links to Opinio Juris, it takes on much greater importance. Why? Because all news is filtered in China, and a blogger republishing prohibited news in China does so under pain of severe sanction.

The Wall Street Journal recently had an interesting article on Chinese attempts to restrict content on the Internet. "Can China really control the Internet? It has launched a new bid to try. In an effort to crack down on the information access and activities of China's 100 million Internet users, the Chinese government is imposing new regulations that will attempt to centralize all China-based Web news and opinion under a state regulator. The laws would prohibit content that 'goes against state security and public interest,' likely affecting Chinese bloggers, bulletin boards on popular portal sites, and other independent Chinese-news Web sites....The government has long maintained theoretical control over all Chinese media, including the Internet. But the new laws, which update regulations issued in 2000, have drawn a line in the sand for China's netizens, imposing fines of up to $3,700 and the threat of complete closure to Web sites that provide news without government authorization. The laws also change the legal definition of Internet 'news,' vaguely defined in the past as 'news published and republished,' to now also include 'reports and comments on political, economic, military, foreign policy and other social public affairs.'"

The level of scrutiny by Chinese authorities is truly alarming. According to a recent article by Rebecca MacKinnon, this past summer "Chinese trying to create blogs on a Microsoft-hosted service using words like 'democracy', 'freedom,' or 'human rights' in the title received a rude reminder: 'The title must not contain prohibited language, such as profanity. Please type a different title,' said a message. This warning equating democracy and freedom to profanity marks a new milestone in the continuing battle for free expression in China."

So go to this blog and celebrate. You won't be able to read a word of it, but know that billions can, and every successful posting of prohibited international news on the Internet in China is a small victory.

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