<videovortex> China: unprecedented censorship measures to be applied to online video and audio files

Geert Lovink geert at xs4all.nl
Mon Jan 7 13:09:05 CET 2008

China: unprecedented censorship measures to be applied to online video 
and audio files

From: Reporters Without Borders


Reporters Without Borders condemns new regulations jointly issued by 
the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) and the State Administration 
of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) under which only websites that 
are licenced by both the MII and SARFT will be able to post videos and 
audio files online from 31 January.

“This is an unprecedented act of censorship,” the press freedom 
organisation said. “Under the pretext of developing China’s media 
industry, the authorities are stepping up their control of online 
content, especially in the runup to the Beijing Olympics. Preventing 
people from sharing video and audio files denies them the ability to 
show and describe their lives. Any censorship could now be portrayed as 
a legal measure.”

According to the new regulations, videos and audio files “attacking 
national sovereignty” will not tolerated. Content that refers to 
ethnicity, pornography, gambling or terrorism, incites violence, 
violates privacy or attacks Chinese traditions and culture is also 
deemed unacceptable.

“Those who provide Internet audio and video services must serve 
socialist ideals and the Chinese people,” the government said in a 
statement issued yesterday.

“In a flagrant display of hypocrisy, the state information bureau 
ordered the Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post to withdraw an 
editorial published yesterday describing the measures as a way of 
introducing the requirement for an administrative licence,” Reporters 
Without Borders said. “These new rules mean that from now on only 
socialist video content will be allowed to circulate online.”

Under the new rules, anyone operating a website that provides video 
content or allows users to upload or download videos will have to 
obtain a licence that must be renewed every three years.

A spokesperson for Google (which owns the video-sharing site YouTube) 
said the new regulation could pose a problem as YouTube was aimed at a 
very broad public and was designed to allow Internet users all over the 
world to share their videos in a completely legal and safe manner.

Human rights activist Hu Jia, the winner of the Reporters Without 
Borders - Fondation de France special China prize in 2007, used video 
to show the outside world his day-to-day existence under house arrest 
until he was detained and imprisoned on 27 December.

Last August, a number of Chinese Internet companies including Yahoo!.cn 
et MSN.cn signed a conduct pledge with the Chinese authorities 
undertaking to try to get bloggers to register under their real names, 
to keep registration details and to delete blog content that was wrong 
or inappropriate.

In 2007, China blocked access to more than 2,500 websites and arrested 
six bloggers. It continues to be the world’s biggest prison for 
Internet users, with a total of 51 cyber-dissidents currently detained.

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