Technology

China Internet pornography, China monitors pornography, China Google Baidu pornography
Imaginechina/AP

China Targets Search Engines Google and Baidu in Latest Anti-Internet Porn Campaign

January 06, 2009 01:00 PM
by Josh Katz
China is clamping down on Internet pornography in the country’s most recent attempt to monitor content on the Web.

China Calls Out Internet Companies for Permitting Porn

facebook
On Monday, the Chinese government attacked 19 Internet companies for allowing access to pornography. The government released a list of the companies, including Google and Baidu, the two most popular search engines in China, and provided short statements explaining why the companies were culpable. Seven government ministries will be coordinating efforts “to purify the Internet's cultural environment and protect the healthy development of minors,” reported the International Herald Tribune, quoting a statement posted on an unnamed government-run news site.

On Dec. 5, China issued a similar statement, but the new announcement has received more attention because the government is singling out a number of popular companies.

Those who follow the Chinese government’s interaction with the Web say these actions are “the latest in a long series of measures to limit the Internet in China, and did not appear to represent a long-term policy shift,” the Tribune said.

"The same mechanisms used to censor porn are used to censor anything else people want to censor," said Rebecca MacKinnon, an assistant professor of media studies at Hong Kong University who focuses on Internet controls in China, according to the Tribune.

The government is also asking for the public’s help to crack down on Internet smut by reporting questionable material to the “China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Centre,” Ars Technica reports.

Pornography is illegal in China, and the “Nineteen websites were called out publicly with the apparent goal of getting them to respond more quickly to notifications about problematic content,” Ars Technica said.

Background: Global Network Initiative seeks new standards

Internet companies including Yahoo, Google and Microsoft teamed up with human rights groups in October 2008 to advocate for the Global Network Initiative. The culmination of a two-year effort, the initiative was meant to counteract the attempts by some governments, particularly that of China, to suppress the dissemination of information on the Internet, and to use the Internet to watch their populations.

The Initiative states that privacy is “a human right and guarantor of human dignity,” and the companies that participate in the campaign are supposed to object when a country attempts to seize that right.

Yahoo, Google and Microsoft have faced criticism in recent years for acceding to certain countries’ requests to minimize Internet freedom, and the initiative is seen as their response. Google has been charged with blocking information about democracy and Tiananmen Square on the Internet, for example, at the insistence of the Chinese government, the BBC reported. Observers have named the result of such alliances between the Internet companies and the Chinese government the “Great Firewall of China.”

Related Topics: Internet ratings system; NY regulates Internet child pornography

British Minister Seeks US-UK Internet Ratings System
Britain’s minister of culture, Andy Burnham, said on Dec. 27 that the Internet should adopt ratings for Web sites similar to those used for television. Burnham hoped to work with the administration of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to protect children from Web sites deemed inappropriate by creating international rules for English-language sites, according to Reuters.
Internet child pornography regulations in NY
In June, three major Internet service providers reached an agreement with the state of New York to block newsgroups and Web sites containing child pornography. The agreement held Verizon, Sprint and Time Warner responsible for regulating the spread of child pornography through their networks. The deal was the result of an eight-month investigation conducted by the office of N.Y. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Undercover agents reported instances of child pornography to the ISPs, who are required to alert the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
facebook

Most Recent Beyond The Headlines