China: Details on Olympic internet crackdown appear

Beijing's Olympic Plan for the mainland China-based portion of the blogging and BBSing netosphere is starting to take shape. While on one hand it's coming coated in talk of self-restraint and uses words like “professional” and “responsibility”, the wording in an official notice [zh] which appeared online this week and is being spread by webmasters of sites that stand to be affected suggests that the coming month will see a similar massive shutdown similar to the one we saw leading up to the seventeenth National People's Congress last year.

This comes at a time when even major commercial web 2.0 sites with tens of dollars of foreign venture capitalist funding can drop dead on the spot with no explanation.

The notice appears to have originated at the Beijing [zh] Communications Authority and was then spread by its local counterparts from Jiangsu to Zhejiang and, further south, Guangdong province:

Special rectification notice for the Olympic period

Dear customer:

We've just received notice from upper management that for the duration of The Olympic Period beginning June 20 and ending August 25, the appropriate departments will be carrying out strict investigations to check that websites are on record, that BBSes have been specially recorded, as well as checking for illegal information on websites. If your website meets any of the following criteria, please immediately carry out the appropriate operations, or else your website will be ordered by the upper administrative departments to be shut down:

1. Website is not on record: please immediately proceed to the Ministry of Information Industry website and submit your information to be recorded. Once recording has been successful, please open the Virtual Host Control Panel -> ICP Records and submit your registered record number there.

2. If your website has a BBS or blog, etc., which has obtained a Specially Recorded Forum license, please first close the the BBS or blog, etc., to prevent the forum resulting in the entire website being closed. For details on the procedure of having a forum specially recorded, please contact your local Communications Administration [zh] to enquire. Only local Communications Authorities are clear on how to handle the special recording of local BBSes. Your questions regarding the special recording of forums cannot be accurately handled here.

If there are dynamic information distribution components to your website, such as comment boards, reciprocal information distribution, categorized information distribution, news….etc., please be sure to active a pre-screening publishing mechanism so that all information is screened before it is released and all illegal information is subject to strict screening.

Speaking of regionalization, one tech BBS in northwestern China's Xinjiang province has reworded the notice such that the website sounds desperate for users not to go beyond the above guidelines, and even defines “illegal information” as the words ‘handgun’, ‘air gun’, ‘dart gun’, ‘shotgun’, ‘bomb’ and other weaponry/explosives-related vocab, stating that all such words will be filtered without exception.

On July 2, someone at the Feelings BBS and claiming to represent it added this at the end of the notice in an attempt to clarify the rules for users:

PS: For the duration of the Olympic Period, all major BBSes are already undergoing widespread rectification, and this forum will severely strike at any and all illegal speech and advertising behavior, and IPs will be locked down and reported if any illegal behavior is noticed!

You are not to discuss the current political system (including current military situations, the Ti*be* is*sue, the Tai*wan is*sue, domestic situations, etc.) and it is not allowed for there to appear in any posts any text or image jokes about national leaders! It is not allowed for baseless, unproven news to be reposted, and all that is posted must come from Xinhuanet and other mainstream websites! Are members are invited to self-screen before posting, thank you!

A post last month on the ChinaGFW blog shows that severe measures were also put in place from the end of May to the end of last month as the Olympic torch continued to hobble its way around the country.


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