The Chinese government is the gatekeeper to both traditional and new forms of media. Its sole goal is to avoid subversion of its authority. They accomplish this by using strict media controls, firewalls, and monitoring systems.
They jail dissident journalists, activists, and bloggers. At the same time, the country relies on the web to grow. The need for Internet freedom for future economic growth is testing China’s ability to maintain control over what their citizens see.
Here are some of the facts:
- China’s Constitution guarantees freedom of press and freedom of speech. However, the Chinese government frequently sensors information on the Internet it deems harmful to the political or economical interests of the country.
- In May 2010, China released its first white paper on the Internet. The focus was Internet sovereignty. It requires all who use the Internet in China, including foreigners, to abide by Chinese laws and regulations.
- The Public Pledge on Self-Regulation and Professional Ethics for China Internet Industry must be signed by all the Chinese Internet companies.
- Websites the Chinese government deems as potentially dangerous, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, and certain Google services, are either temporary blocked, fully blocked, or completely blacked out during times of unrest or controversy. An example of this is the June 4 anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square.
- Photographs, videos, and reports of issues that could incite social unrest, including scandals, corruption, and issues with the environment, are blocked. Websites that discuss these, including the New York Times and Bloomberg news service, have been blocked at times.
- Chinese sensors are quick to block websites or Internet stories related to violent incidents related to Tibet or China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region.
- According to Beijing News, a state run paper, more than two million workers have the responsibility of reviewing Internet posts using keyword searches to constantly monitor China’s Internet.
- The Golden Shield Project, more commonly referred to as The Great Firewall, is used by the government for online censorship and surveillance. The tools at its disposal include bandwidth throttling and blocking access to prohibited websites.
- In 2015, the Chinese government cracked down on VPN’s. In doing so, they made visiting US sites like Google and Facebook harder.
- In the latter part of 2014, China banned Google’s Gmail service. This move led to a concerted response from the State Department.
- In 2017, China had approximately 731 million Internet users.
- The Chinese government records all keystrokes, even those used in Internet cafés, online games, and emails. This makes sending private messages or flying under the radar virtually impossible.
- During the 2008 Olympic Games, reporters complained that their access to Amnesty International was blocked. As a result, China temporarily unblocked access to the site, which frequently criticizes China for its imprisonment of journalists every year.
- Twenty-five percent of the websites and search engines are blocked in China thanks to their four level filtering process.
- China currently blocks more than 920 media websites.
- China’s census of infrastructure is nearly perfect and efficient. Within 24 hours of their posting, most objectionable posts are removed with a near-perfect elimination rates.
- Users are required to register their true identities online prior to posting on the majority of China’s popular news and Internet portal sites.
- The 2017, report published by the European Chamber of Commerce said that in China more than 20 percent of companies blame China’s online restrictions for at least a 10 percent loss in the country’s revenue.
- As of 2016, China was blocking more than 6,500 different domains. This includes more than 150 of the top thousand domains on the web.
- Chinese companies that provide streaming music services must police the music before it’s made publicly available. This ensures that nothing distasteful about the Chinese government can get through.
- Chinese authorities frequently engage in what is referred to as the censorship by addition. This is where the authorities will flood online discussion forums with information that is in harmony with government perspectives. Jokingly referred to as $.50 parties, a reference to the amount of money people are said to be paid per comment, commenters receive directives from the authorities as to what to say and how they should say it. For example, if a conversation is about Taiwan’s democratic system, government posters are encouraged to make the United States the target of criticism in the conversation. They do this by highlighting examples of violence in Western countries and explaining why democracy and capitalism do not work.
In Singapore, Internet censorship is the responsibility of the Infocommunications Media Development Authority. Internet services provided by the major ISPs in the country are regulated by the IMDA. While not as strict as what is seen in countries like China, Singapore’s government has arrested bloggers for producing content that was not in harmony with governmental leanings.
- After a six-week sentence to jail for insulting religious groups, Amos Yee, a teenage blogger, sought asylum in the United States of America.
- Internet penetration is high in Singapore, with more than 90 percent of residential households having access to broadband Internet as of 2016.
- The total volume of data that was sent increased by 37 percent from 2015 and 2017.
- In May 2015, the Singapore government ordered the shutdown of a political website. This was the only such shutdown to date. This reflects Singapore’s commitment to the promise made in 1996 to not filter or block political content.
- In 2013, a licensing system was introduced to minimize the growth of online new startups independent of the government. This licensing system drastically reduces the funding options of online new startups. Still, the Internet is more open than its print or broadcast news medium counterparts. There is still the opportunity for political discourse, which flows uninhibited online.
- The IMDA currently blocks around 100 websites. The purpose of these blocks are to protect societal values. This changing list of blocked sites is not public. It is known to contain oversea sites run by “religious extremist” as well as a few pornographic sites. Since 2013, Ashley Madison was blocked in Singapore when the company announced its intentions to launch in the country.
- According to Singapore’s information minister, there have only been 27 interventions against online content since 1996. The minister told Parliament in 2013 that the majority of the sites featured solicitation, gambling, drugs, and pornography.
- YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other international blogging services are readily available in Singapore. Many bloggers can operate openly and freely. A number of opposition parties as well as non-government organizations freely operate online.
- In 2016, Singapore’s Parliament enacted a new law that defines the offense of contempt of court. It is designed to prevent the distribution of information that “scandalizes the court.” Its supposed purpose is to protect public confidence in the administration and prevent the undermining of justice. This new act carries with it a maximum penalty of three years in jail and $74,000 fine USD. The contempt of court law has been frequently used to restrict public debate in Singapore and is used as a way to punish bloggers who write about issues like gay-rights as well as the way opposition politicians are treated in court.
- The Computer Misuse and Cyber Security Act is a law that gives the government sweeping powers, allowing ministers from Home Affairs to collect information from any computer, even collecting the information from the computer in real time when it feels that doing so is necessary to prevent a national threat. What makes this law disturbing to some is the fact that court permission is not required. Failing to comply with the law can result in a fine of up to $35,000 USD and a prison sentence of up to 10 years.