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China tightens noose with new Web rules

By Doug Young and Lindsay Beck
SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – New Chinese regulations governing Internet news content tighten the noose on freewheeling bloggers and aim to rein in the medium that is a growing source of information for the mainland’s more than 100 million users.
Analysts say the rules issued by the Ministry of Information Industry on Sunday will not change much for authorized, licensed news outlets — already under the thumb of state control — but will extend controls to blogs and Internet-only news sites.
“For current media outlets, this is nothing more than a restating of the rules,” said David Wolf, who heads Wolf Group Asia, a Beijing-based media and technology consultancy.
“This is aimed at bloggers and other individual and ad hoc journalists that are out there and that don’t have a licensed organization.”
The regulations target sites that publish fabricated information or pornography and forbid content that “harms national security, reveals state secrets, subverts political power (and) undermines national unity”.
They also ban posts that “instigate illegal gatherings, formation of associations, marches, demonstrations, or disturb social order”, indicating a lesson learned from anti-Japanese protests that swept China last April and which spread in part due to postings on Internet bulletin boards and chat rooms.
China routinely blocks access to Internet sites on sensitive subjects such as self-ruled Taiwan, which China regards as its own, and the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstrations which were crushed by the military with heavy loss of life.
Providers of online news and other services, from domestic players Sina Corp. and Sohu.com to foreign firms such as Yahoo Inc., also practice forms of self-censorship by blocking sites and prohibiting message posting on sensitive topics.
But the new regulations would curtail discussion on a wider variety of subjects, analysts said.
“Much more relevant is current affairs, social and political news. You don’t necessarily have to touch taboo areas,” said Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project at the University of California at Berkeley. CLICK HERE FOR MORE

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September 26, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments