China Clamps Down On Activist Internet Use

934

Super Investing

Freedom House says their report, Freedom on the Net 2013, to be released in September, will show that China’s Internet controls, which were already among the world’s most extensive, are now even more sophisticated and pervasive, since the new Communist Party leadership took control.

Freedom House will release .

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

China is still targeting activists, and now activists will find it much more difficult to conceal their true identity online. Activists have been using tools that make detection very difficult, but these have been severely disrupted. Previously, those tools allowed them to access uncensored websites outside of China.

In addition, private companies made changes so they are able to quickly delete content banned by the government, sometimes within minutes of it being posted. The report is based on Freedom House’s unique Freedom on the Net methodology.

“As more Chinese people get online and encounter constraints, more adopt tools and workarounds to avoid them, a sign of tremendous public demand for internet freedom,” said Madeline Earp, research analyst for Freedom on the Net at Freedom House. “But instead of relaxing control, CCP leaders under President Xi Jinping are refining China’s technical and regulatory apparatus to stop citizens from evading censorship and surveillance.”

The Freedom House report includes an assessment of internet access in China and how it is curtailed; a new generation of censorship and manipulation techniques that govern content; and the laws and regulations used to find and punish individuals who disobey the rules.

Key findings:

– Surveillance exposed more people to repercussions for online activity. December regulations mandated more real name registration online, formalizing existing checks on anonymous communication. It’s still possible to defy these rules, but not for mobile internet users, whose phones are already registered-and more Chinese people got online via cellphone than broadband for the first time in 2012. In Tibet and Xinjiang, police searched mobile handsets for banned content, and jailed dozens for using digital tools.

– Private innovation served censors, not customers. Domestic companies must censor to succeed. To stay ahead of evolving official directives and restrict creative online activism, they’ve produced sophisticated and nuanced controls: Instant messages containing sensitive keywords disappeared, connections using VPN tools were severed, and public microblog posts were quietly made private, visible only to the author.

– Activism was manipulated for political gain. Internet users enforced President Xi’s 2013 anti-graft campaign by scrutinizing local officials for signs of overspending-though never top leaders; Bloomberg’s website was blocked in 2012 for reporting on Xi’s own wealthy connections. Sometimes a political faction seemed to briefly lift censorship on content that would discredit an opponent.

China is rated Not Free in Freedom House’s three signature reports

  • Freedom in the World 2013
  • Freedom of the Press 2013
  • Freedom on the Net 2012.

Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it’s head and makes him start pounding the keyboard. Alan has a fascination with making video and video editing, so watch out if he points his Canon 7d in your direction.