/ December 22, 2008

China Attacks Internet Bullies

After the earthquake was over, the horrible pollution had already been exposed and the Olympic games came to an end, China had reason to hope that all eyes would be off of them. Unfortunately for them, when it comes to Internet regulation, the world cannot help but notice what the country has been up to lately. During the games in August, the Chinese government lifted the ban on many websites that had been forbidden for years in order to give visiting journalists access to various sources they might need. As a consequence of being the home for the 2008 Games, China had to promise to improve their human rights conditions including access to the international media. This move at the end of summer to decrease censorship made it seem that China would follow through with their promise, but on the contrary, the government is now putting those blocks back on to sites they deem inappropriate for its citizens.

In spite of the heavy criticism for China’s overly censored republic, one of their latest measures could be the answer to a problem found right here in the United States. Lately the government has grown concerned over the “human flesh search engine” whereby a number of blogs and search engines are compiled to find out personal information about someone including their full name, address, phone number, family members and more. This system has become increasingly popular as citizens of China have started to censor the material their own countrymen put on the internet by stalking and threatening them. In response to the dangerous behavior, a Chinese court ruled this week that personal information may not be posted on any sites and fined those involved in the case. A number of Chinese have been negatively affected in  by these searches already and are accepting of the courts opinion. 
While Americans tend to cringe at the thought of censorship, particularly when it is placed on our internet capabilities, a number of incidents over the past few years make a valid argument for China’s new rules. With the expansion of social networks such as MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook and more, it has become all too easy to post personal, inappropriate and even dangerous material concerning just about anyone. Perhaps disallowing this type of information  could have protected some who have fallen prey to the dangers of the internet, a goal that the Chinese have certainly laid out for themselves. 
Give us your thoughts on just how far you think the Internet should be able to go and if China had the right idea in our comments section. 
Source: New York Times, Los Angeles Times

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