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.

11 comments

  • kim

    The Internet should be a medium for the freedom of expression, not repression.

    Behind censorship Chinese authorities hide human rights abuses – like the extent of their use of the death penalty, torture and detention without trial and the persecution of human rights defenders.

    Sign Amnesty International’s anti-censorship pledge – at http://action.uncensor.com.au/pledge/.

  • […] Kennedy at Global Voices has just posted on new restrictions for the Chinese Internet that will allegedly be enforced during the run-up to the Summer Games and […]

  • dg

    Some one needs to send this ASAP to Mr. Jacques Rogge President of the International Olympic Committee and ask exactly how this fits in with the promise of total open reporting and open communications that The Peoples Republic of Communist China made in order to obtain the 2008 Games. Was that just a bold face lie????

    Chinese Government, shame on you!!! You have totally lost face with the world. Hang you head in shame!

  • […] details on the crackdown by the Chinese government on the internet during the Beijing Olympic Games have been published on the GlobalVoices Advocacy website. China’s leaders won’t have any “illegal […]

  • Jaffar

    To avoid repression and to have lots of expression while using internet during Olympic Games I bought VPN service. With it I can easily access any blocked site from iPhone. While I’m in the internet it was my best purchase.

  • The website where I got it was the http://strongvpn.com

  • […] Chinese webmasters wait to see if the Olympics will bring tightened reins on the internet as is widely expected, more specific documents have recently appeared online which suggest part of Beijing’s […]

  • […] The role of blogs in China is more than simply reacting to perceived Western slights. Instead, many netizens may not be calling for the dissolution of the Communist Party or planning a revolution, but they’re been given far more freedoms today than five years ago. Mirroring what I found during my research in China last year, very few Chinese bloggers appear upset with the excessive filtering (though some are unaware what they’re missing out on.) This doesn’t mean, however, that the apparent blocking of parts of Facebook isn’t annoying for many users or the creeping Olympic crackdown. […]

  • Mark V.

    In my opinion, it’s will be better to use something like this http://world-secure-channel.com/why/

  • Jennifer

    Get a VPN service, it`s a must for China. I use this one when I travel there: http://www.sunvpn.com/.

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