Sunday, August 28, 2011

China Tightens the Reins on Internet Firms

The Middle East uprisings have unnerved the Chinese government and authorities in Beijing are particularly attuned to the strong supporting role the Internet has played in recent unfoldings in Libya, Egypt and Syria. Popular uprisings have mandated major governmental changes and reforms in nearly a dozen different countries. Internet bulletin boards, message boards and social media have been a major factor in the events that unfolded during the so-called "Arab Spring," that it's no wonder the Chinese are spooked.

In what could be a prelude to a crackdown, Beijing Communist Party secretary Liu Qi, firmly instructed Internet firms in China to "strengthen management and firmly prevent the spread of fake and harmful information."

Currently there are some 485 million people currently using the Internet in China. Government search filters closely regulate much of the content these 485 million users can access. China's efforts to control what users view and create on the Internet has already ran them afoul of Google who closed up shop in China as a result.

But just as when you modify a car, you remove the regulator that keeps the speed under control, Chinese web-users are employing software applications that enable them to circumnavigate government Internet filters.

However a popular eCommerce platform has just informed its merchants that they will no longer be able to sell private network programs and other applications that can navigate around government filters on the site.

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