Friday, February 26, 2010

China Widens Net Censorship; Google Exile Looms

Via (Threat Level) -

The Chinese government is imposing new internet restrictions demanding personal-website operators to acquire central-government permission to operate their sites.

The government said the latest move — which also requires site owners to submit a photograph and to show identification — was targeted at tackling pornography. Critics, though said it was based on silencing political dissent. China did not say when the rules would be enforced.

The plan underscores that China is not likely to blink in its confrontation with Google, at least not anytime soon. That leaves Google lingering in an ethical and business crossroads as the days tick from its Jan. 12 announcement that it would leave China if it has to continue censoring search results there.

Google declined Wednesday to directly address negotiations surrounding its China announcement.

“We are not commenting on what might or might not be happening,” Google spokesman Scott Rubin said in a telephone interview.

China is known for having some of the world’s strictest holds on the internet.

Last year, the Chinese government decided to mandate censorship software called Green Dam in all new PCs (to which manufacturers acquiesced). In March it blocked YouTube because of videos of anti-Tibetan violence, a block that remains. Then the government began hammering on Google, claiming the search engine was steering too many people to pornography.

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