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Censorship Government The Internet Your Rights Online

China Explains Internet Situation In Whitepaper 115

Posted by kdawson
from the for-some-definitions-of-free dept.
eldavojohn writes "In a new whitepaper, China has declared the Internet to be 'the crystallization of human wisdom' and officially issued what appears to be a defense of its policies on Web censorship, while at the same time making contradicting statements like 'Chinese citizens fully enjoy freedom of speech on the Internet' and (in the same paper) 'Laws and regulations clearly prohibit the spread of information that contains content subverting state power, undermining national unity, [or] infringing upon national honor and interests.' The paper also claims some questionable superlatives such as 'China is one of the countries suffering most from hacking.' On the positive side, this 31-page document might be offered as an operating guide for businesses, like Google, looking to understand exactly what the law is surrounding the Internet in China. The document is a rare glimpse of transparency in China's regulations."
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China Explains Internet Situation In Whitepaper

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  • Free-ish Speech (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rotworm (649729) * on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @03:12PM (#32500482) Homepage Journal
    Do Chinese people enjoy freedom of speech on the Internet in a substantively different way than we do?
    I can say whatever I want, except things that are against the law to say. It's the same system in China, but they have different laws. I'm no expert, but I think the only meaningful difference is that citizens cannot criticise the government -and don't get me wrong, that's a big difference, but they report they are trying a system where the nation is unified. Maybe I disagree with that approach, but I think it's suspect to say that China opposes freedom of speech when they only differ on a single issue.
    Further, there are many laws here in Canada that limit speech, that don't have a corresponding law in China. Specifically, I'm thinking about race.
  • by fishexe (168879) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @03:38PM (#32500896) Homepage

    On the positive side, this 31-page document might be offered as an operating guide for businesses, like Google, looking to understand exactly what the law is surrounding the Internet in China. The document is a rare glimpse of transparency in China's regulations. (emphasis added)

    Actually, China issues documents like this all the time. They don't normally represent glimpses of transparency because they're in no way binding on the government. That is, you could follow all the substantive recommendations (if there even are any) and still be deemed to have "undermined national unity" or "infringed upon national honor" based on nothing but the PRC's desire to get you.
    Thus the first sentence above is apt but the second is questionable. Might this be a glimpse of transparency? Only time will tell. If companies carefully following the guidelines available manage not to run afoul of the PRC government, then the answer will be yes. Otherwise, it's no glimpse of transparency at all, and even muddies the waters a bit more than was already the case.

  • Re:Free-ish Speech (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Jurily (900488) <jurily@NETBSDgmail.com minus bsd> on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @03:56PM (#32501132)

    I would posit that the difference in your Canada vs China comparison is that the laws are better defined for you than they are a Chinese citizen.

    Are they now? [wikipedia.org]

    Think for a minute about what the phrase "speech against the government" could mean in China. Is saying "The Yang-tse river is so polluted!" considered speech against the Chinese government? Is complaining about your working conditions okay? Is criticizing the United States' copyright laws okay when your government has pledged time and time again to combat piracy?

    You know that well enough by the time you get out of grade school.

    In Canada, are you afraid of the government disliking you for some reason and then reviewing your internet usage and history to find something to prosecute you under?

    s/government/copyright organizations/ Yes.

    There is no substantial difference between China and the US, except for the theatrics. Just to really earn my Troll mod, who was the last President who was neither Republican, nor Democrat? Who gets to choose the candidates for those parties? And most importantly, who were the last two candidates who received all their campaign contributions from *entirely* different sets of corporations?

  • Re:Free-ish Speech (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OldHawk777 (19923) * <adelovant@v e r i zon.net> on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:11PM (#32501338) Journal

    Why a 15 digit prime number with a leading zero?
    100010001010011, 17491, 4453

  • by jc42 (318812) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:25PM (#32501526) Homepage Journal

    crystallization of human wisdom???

    Man, they've really handed one to the comedians with that one.

    Some time ago, I saw a quote from some old sage to the effect that libraries contain the summary of all human wisdom -- and much of its foolishness. It occurs to me that the same situation has developed on the Internet, but several orders of magnitude greater. Of course, since the Internet took off, the sum total of human wisdom probably hasn't grown all that much. So we should conclude that that, while the Internet may now contain a summary of all human wisdom, that summary is buried deeply in many orders of magnitude more foolishness.

    But consider what was predicted for television back in its early days, and what it developed into, I suppose this should have been expected for the Internet, too. The main difference here is that with television, the concentration of control into a corporate heirarchy was able to effectively eject most of the wisdom stuff, since that has never been as profitable as foolishness. This never worked with libraries, because they couldn't be organized into a controlled heirarchy. The Internet is even more impossible to control, since any person or small group able to set up a few links (wired or wireless) can establish their own small Internet playground outside the control of anyone. This allows for the aggregation of wisdom by the small crowds interested in such arcanae. It also allows the aggregation of anything else by other crowds interested in them.

    But anyway, we should make sure the phrase "crystallization of human wisdom" reaches the attention of all the comedians we can send it to. It has a great potential, especially coming from a Chinese government committee.

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb

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