China is to close unregistered China-based domestic Web sites and
blogs, a media watchdog said, as the government tightens its grip on
Popular domestic Web portals are already pressured not to publish
sensitive news and voluntarily patrol chatrooms and other areas of
their sites for "politically incorrect" or "unapproved" statements and
delete them. Beijing announced in March that every China-based Web
site now had to register and provide complete information on its
organizers by June 30 or face being declared illegal, the Paris-based
Reporters Without Borders group said in a statement seen on Tuesday.
"The plan is all the more worrying as the government has also revealed
that it has a new system for monitoring sites in real time and
spotting those that fail to comply," Reporters Without Borders said.
"This decision will enable those in power to control online news and
information much more effectively."
Around three-quarters of domestic Web sites had complied with the
registration orders, Reporters Without Borders quoted official Chinese
figures as saying.
A report released by the OpenNet Initiative in April called China the
world's leading censor of the Internet and said the government
employed thousands of officials and private citizens to monitor and
control online content.
But for all of Beijing's efforts to rein in the medium, pockets of
free speech have appeared in Internet chatrooms and blogs.
"The authorities also hope to push the most outspoken online sites to
migrate abroad, where they will become inaccessible to those inside
China because of the Chinese filtering systems," Reporters Without
Beijing regularly blocks access to some foreign Web pages, including
sites run by Chinese dissidents living in exile abroad.
China is the world's second-largest Internet market, with about 100
million users and the number is growing.
It is also the world's largest jailer of cyber dissidents, having
detained more than 60 people for expressing their views online,
according to a Reporters Without Borders report from last June.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Although this will not happen anytime
soon, I think we can expect to see the United States begin to clamp
down on 'unapproved' and 'unregistered' web sites in the future. It
is just a matter of time until the government gets a belly-full of
the spam/scam/porn-ridden internet and decides to crack down hard. I
mean, the s/s/p ridden internet is not an exception to the rule; it
_is_ the rule and has been for a few years now. Watch and see ... at
some point the little porky pig character will step out on the stage
and say 'thats it, folks'. PAT]