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Nov 8, 2017 in Opinion
As the paper earlier documented, the censorship of the Internet began in 1993. This was when the central government passed three regulations that curtail the freedom of speech through the Internet. The first of these regulations state that individuals and private organizations are not allowed to have direct internet, international connection. This regulation was formally announced by the government in 1996, and it was updated in 1997(Collins, 2002).
This regulation requires all Internet connection to go through the official government machinery such as CERNET, ChinaNET and GBNET among other government regulatory agencies (Amnesty International, 2002).
The second regulation gave the ministry of public security authority to monitor the Internet provision in the country. The ministry was to inspect, supervise and guide the work of maintaining security in the country. In regard to the Internet, it was to prosecute criminal cases brought through the Internet. Reading the fine script, one can see that there is ambiguity in the powers of the ministry. This is to ensure that the ministry can get along with the suppression of the freedom of expression (Amnesty International, 2002).
The government in regard to Internet censorship has been enacting new regulations. People who break these regulations face jail terms or fines. In other instances, they face both. The charges that are brought against the people who violate these Internet regulations are various. For one, they are charged with performing acts that split the nation. Defamation is also another popular charge that is brought against these people. Leaking government secrets is another charge that those people who violate Internet censorship laws get. Sites that are found to violate the state laws get blocked. Several sites have been blocked like New York Times site was blocked in 2000 though it was later unblocked. The sites for the Washington Post, CBN and CBS have also been blocked, but they were unblocked in 2000 (Abbott, 2004).
According to the ministry of public security, the following is what makes a site be closed. According to the said ministry, if an Internet site is provoking division and promoting sentiment that is harmful to the national security, then it is to be closed. Injuring the image of state organizations is another crime that can get a site closed. Working to overthrow the Chinese government or the socialist set up is also termed as sedition and can get a site closed. All this is propaganda aimed at stifling the freedom of expression. This is because it is the state ministry that determines what sedition is and what isn’t. The state ministry of security thus uses propaganda to censor freedom of speech in China. Because it cannot be overly brutal, it has come up with laws and regulations that push its’ agenda to harm the freedom of expression. Other media have also been stifled in the drive to control the freedom of speech in China. One such media is television (Abbott, 2004).
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