Archive for the ‘pornography’ Category

Chinese Get Past Communist Internet Blocks

February 7, 2008

By Edward Lanfranco
The Washington Times
February 7, 2008

BEIJING — Chinese Internet censorship is little more than a joke to Li Shenwen, an unemployed computer game enthusiast who remained glued to his keyboard well past midnight in a dingy “Wangba” or “NetBar” on a recent Saturday night.
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Official blocks on controversial or political Web sites pose no obstacle to any experienced user who wants to get past them, said Mr. Li, who picks up spending money by amassing points in computer games and selling them to a broker who in turn sells them online to avid but inept Western gamers.
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Reluctant to be distracted from his profitable pursuit, Mr. Li, in his mid-20s, offered a $14 wager that he could get to any three blocked sites in less than five minutes. The bet was made.
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Opening a new browser, he promptly brought up outlawed content in Chinese and English from YouTube, Voice of America, Falun Gong and, for added measure, Reporters Without Borders — all within less than three minutes.
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“You could have asked anyone here to do this,” Mr. Li said with a wave around the room. But he added, they are more interested in using skills to access restricted pornography sites than to read about politics.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080207/FOREIGN/292517276/1001

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China: Activists Make Link to “Genocide Games”

October 17, 2007

Because of China’s involvement in Sudan during the “genocide” in Darfur, many in Hollywood have started calling the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics the “Genocide Games.”  Below is a report on how Reporters San Frontières (Reporters Without Borders) is protesting China’s repression.

October 15, 2007

Activists from Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders) today demonstrated in front of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, unfurling a giant flag in which the Olympic rings appear in the form of interlocking handcuffs.

The demonstration marked the opening of the 17th Chinese Communist Party Congress in Beijing attended by more than 2,200 delegates, who are expected to give a boost to the leadership of President Hu Jintao whose period in power has been marked by a harder ideological line in the name of a “harmonious society”.
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Two men walk past a sign advertising the Chinese Communist Party’s 17th five-yearly Congress in Beijing. China will strengthen the role of the Communist Party in foreign-invested enterprises as the number of cadres in overseas companies here grows, a leading official said Wednesday,
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“We hope through this action to challenge the IOC and its president Jacques Rogge, who refuse to condemn the bad state of human rights in China,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“We have also contacted the IOC’s ethical commission but they replied that they can only be activated by Jacques Rogge himself. This lack of will on the part of Olympic bodies is worrying,” the organisation added.

Games of the XXIX Olympiad

“For the past several weeks an icy wind has blown through freedom of expression in China. This with less than 10 months to go before the opening of the Olympic Games. How can the IOC and its ethical commission remain silent before such a heavy toll of violations of freedom of expression?” it asked.

“More than 30 foreign journalists have been arrested and prevented from working since the start of the year. No fewer than one thousand discussion forums and websites have been closed since July. And a score of dissidents have been imprisoned for expressing themselves freely,” Reporters Without Borders said.

Preparation for the Congress, a key event in the life of China’s sole political party, saw new restrictions slapped on all sectors of the press, Internet-users, bloggers, website managers, foreign journalists and defenders of freedom of expression.

There has been an increase in directives ordering the media to use only reports put out by the official Xinhua news agency. The Publicity (formerly Propaganda) Department has ordered state-run newspapers to step up news linked to the preparation of the Congress and the activities of the leadership.

Recently, five of the major official dailies brought out identical front pages, with the headline: “The 17th Congress of the CCP is set to be hot, hot, hot!” Next to it was the same article about Chinese leaders ordering a mining company to do its utmost to rescue workers trapped in a pit. The same photo of President Hu Jintao on a visit to Kazakhstan also appears on the cover page.

Several dozen online discussion forums, including Ai Zhi Fang Zhou
(www.chain.net.cn/forum

devoted to the patients with Aids, have been closed. The managers have been told that they will only be allowed to reopen once the Congress is over. Several hundred websites and blogs have been closed in the last two months.

On the eve of the Congress, the Party has also spearheaded a campaign for greater morality in the media, which led to a suspension of several reality television programmes. The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) on 14 September quoted the fight against pornography as a reason to ban 11 radio programmes about sexuality. “Their content on sexual life and the effectiveness of medication for sexual problems was of an extremely pornographic nature,” the administration said. The SARFT also added that “films that were not suitable for children were also not suitable for adults.”

Google In Hot Water [Again] Over Censorship

September 7, 2007

Juan Carlos Perez

San Francisco  – A media advocacy group is “dismayed” about Google‘s decision to block YouTube videos from viewers in Thailand that are considered inappropriate or illegal by that Asian government.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), calling Google’s reported agreement with the Thai government “a censorship deal,” said on Wednesday that the move creates “a dangerous precedent, which could have global implications for freedom of expression.”

“There is a clear potential for abuse of people’s right to information, which seems much more likely now [that] Google has demonstrated its willingness to collude with governments to effectively censor information,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said in a statement.

The Thailand Embassy in Washington, D.C., didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Friday and during the weekend, various news outlets reported from Bangkok that Thailand had lifted a five-month ban on YouTube for its residents after Google agreed to block videos the government finds objectionable.

Last March in Thailand, visitors to the popular video sharing site YouTube were re-directed to a government web site.  In Thailand the reasons and criteria for an internet site blocking are usually not made public. In the past, if the resulting controversy over a certain blocking gets too vocal, the blocked site comes back online and the government denies it was ever blocked at all.

This is often the way China also handles internet disruptions and censorship.

In Thailand, news analysts speculated that YouTube was blocked after posting a CNN interview that features ex-prime minister Thaksin. Thaksin was ousted by the Thai military and the current military backed regime is not happy with Thaksin getting any form of media exposure.

In an article posted Friday, the International Herald Tribune quoted Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom, Thailand’s minister of information and communications technology, as saying that YouTube had agreed to block clips deemed offensive to Thai culture or that violate Thai law.

People accessing YouTube from outside of Thailand will be able to view the videos blocked in that country, the minister told the International Herald Tribune.

Thailand blocked all access to Google’s YouTube, the world’s most popular video-sharing site, in early April after someone posted a video the government considered insulting to the country’s king.

YouTube is “pleased to hear” that access to its site has been reinstated in Thailand, a YouTube spokesman said via e-mail Wednesday.

“We appreciate the constructive dialogue we have had with the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) Ministry. YouTube remains committed to removing videos when they violate our content policies, and we will continue to work closely with authorities in Thailand,” the YouTube spokesman wrote.

YouTube has taken steps to make sure that its users in Thailand will not be able to access videos that have been identified as violating the country’s laws, he confirmed.

Asked if YouTube’s parent company had any reaction to the IFJ’s criticism, he said the question should answered by a Google official. At press time, no one from Google had responded to this question.

Those found guilty of offending the monarchy face serious penalties in Thailand. Days before the YouTube incident, a Swiss national living in Thailand got slapped with a 10-year jail sentence for defacing images of the king.

This is the latest incident in which Google and other providers of Internet services, such as Yahoo and Microsoft, find themselves criticized for censorship by human rights organizations, press advocacy groups, U.S. legislators, and shareholders.

For example, several Internet companies have been criticized for agreeing to censor content in their China sites and search engines that the Chinese government finds objectionable.

Yahoo in particular has been blasted often for cooperating with the Chinese government and providing information that has led to the arrest of dissidents and journalists.

Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and others invariably defend themselves saying that they must comply with the local laws of the countries in which they do business and that governments must collaborate to establish international standards of operation.

“We always welcome constructive discussions with local governments around the world on similar issues. We are committed to addressing these questions in ways that both respect relevant laws and cultural concerns and are consistent with our global content policies,” the YouTube spokesman wrote.

When it comes to content that may break local laws, YouTube works with local authorities to resolve the issues. “We think this approach strikes the right balance between freedom of expression and respect for local law,” he wrote.

Thailand recently introduced the Computer Crime Act, which gives authorities the power to seize the computers of people suspected of accessing or creating content deemed insulting or pornographic, according to the IFJ.

Activist, social worker and webmaster Sombat Bun-ngam-anong is currently serving a 12-day detention order for alleged defamation for violating the Act, the IFJ said in Wednesday’s statement.

Also on Wednesday, Reporters Without Borders, another international press watchdog group, reported that a Thai blogger named Pichai has been reportedly detained for the past 12 days, also for violating the Act, which this group says took effect on July 18.

The blogger’s arrest “confirms our fears about the dangers of a law that is supposed to combat pornography but turns out to be a way of restricting and controlling press freedom,” Reporters Without Borders charged.
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Peace and Freedom Comment:

Several of us have been to Thailand.  It is difficult to believe that the Thai military Generals really fear pornography in a nation that has moving sex as a mainstay of the society and the economy.  We could be wrong….

Google was widely criticized earlier this year for accepting China’s restrictions and limitations on information.