Posts Tagged ‘china’

China ‘plans to spy’ on Olympics
May 2, 2008
Web User

Watch Beijing Olympics movies online The Chinese government has been accused of ordering US-owned hotels to install web filters that can spy on international visitors ahead of this summer’s Olympics.

Republican Senator Sam Brownback made the charge at a news conference in Washington.
Along with several other lawmakers, he denounced China’s human rights record and urged President Bush not to attend the Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing.
The Senator said he had seen memos received by at least two American-owned hotels in China requesting them to install the contentious filters. He declined to reveal his sources.
The filters would allow third-party monitoring of websites being visited by hotel guests and also restrict information coming in and out of China, according to Senator Brownback.
“This is wrong, it’s against international conventions, it’s certainly against the Olympic spirit,” Brownback said. “The Chinese government should remove that request and that order.”
China has repeatedly blocked access to websites including Yahoo, YouTube, the BBC and Google News in the past.
One Republican senator, Chris Smith, compared the Beijing Olympics to the 1936 games in Nazi Germany.
“When Berlin happened, a lot of people didn’t know what the Nazis were all about. But we’ve had year after year of credible reporting of [the] Chinese government’s human rights abuses,” Smith said.


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China blocks Wikipedia

China blocks Wikipedia

By Ken Fisher | Published: June 14, 2004 – 12:33PM CT

Ten days ago the Chinese government blocked Internet access to the Chinese version of the Wikipedia, a community-built encyclopedia that polices itself with a policy of political neutrality. This past weekend that block was extended to include other language versions as well. To some, the block was a surprise.

Chinese Wikipedia, which has not previously been blocked by Chinese censors, had been held up by observers as an example of openness on the Internet in China. In addition, the site, which has had a low profile and a relatively small group of regular contributors, was seen as a gauge of government tolerance for the free flow of information on the Internet in China.

The shutdown came just a day before the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square riots, and some suspect the move was aimed at making it difficult for Chinese web surfers to read the Wiki’s coverage of the riots on their anniversary. However, not many expect the block to be lifted soon. One anonymous editor notes that the “Chinese Wikipedia contains a lot of sensitive articles which are still taboo in China,” and that it was only a matter of time before PRC officials shut it down.

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Chinese dissident e-mails: what did Yahoo know, and when did it know it?

By Nate Anderson | Published: July 30, 2007 – 01:41PM CT

Chinese pro-democracy activist Shi Tao was sentenced to 10 years in prison back in 2004 after Yahoo turned over his e-mails to the Chinese government, but the company has publicly claimed that it had no information about the case when the government first demanded the e-mails. Now, an alleged copy of the official request for that information has surfaced, and it suggests that Yahoo did have at least some knowledge of what the case was about. Whether the company should have acted differently because of that is a matter for debate.

Human rights group Dui Hua has just published a translation of the Chinese government request to Yahoo, which asks for the “login times, corresponding IP addresses, and relevant e-mail content” from an account that Shi used at the time (Boing Boing’s coverage includes a massive selection of links for those who want more context.)

The “notice of evidence collection” also informs Yahoo that the investigation relates to “a case of suspecting illegal provision of state secrets to foreign entities,” and this is the point at which things get controversial. That’s because, as Yahoo’s general counsel told Congress last year when tech companies were called in for hearings, “we had no information about the nature of the investigation.”

Dui Hua’s Joshua Rosenzweig believes this is damning evidence. “This new documentation suggests that Yahoo!’s Beijing office was at least aware of the general nature of the crime being investigated in the Shi Tao case,” he said in a statement, “even if it was unaware of the specific circumstances or the name of the individual involved. One does not have to be an expert in Chinese law to know that ‘state secrets’ charges have often been used to punish political dissent in China.”

Did Yahoo lie before Congress? It depends what “no information” means. While Yahoo clearly did know that the case was about state secrets (assuming the notice is genuine), the notice offered no other details. Should Yahoo have been willing to defy the government over a matter on which it had so little information? Not according to Yahoo. The company has claimed repeatedly that Chinese Internet users are better off with US companies operating in China, even when that means cooperating with some dodgy censorship practices and the occasional political prosecution, and it has battled shareholder efforts to make it change its ways.

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Yahoo condemns Chinese repression, continues to aid it

By Nate Anderson | Published: June 12, 2007 – 10:43AM CT

Yahoo’s official mission is to “connect people to their passions, their communities, and the world’s knowledge.” If your community is in China and your passion is for, say, multiparty electoral systems, then Yahoo might also connect you to the Chinese government, who would like to hear more about this unhealthy interest of yours. As pressure builds on the company to stop turning over e-mails and other information to the Chinese government in such cases, Yahoo has issued a statement calling on China to respect freedom of expression.

“Yahoo is dismayed that citizens in China have been imprisoned for expressing their political views on the Internet,” Yahoo said in a statement faxed to the Associated Press. The company went on to deplore “punishment of any activity internationally recognized as free expression.”

Not that the declaration changes anything; Yahoo plans to keep turning over information when required to do so by the Chinese government. Any sort of “principled stand” made by the American bosses of the company could easily put Yahoo’s Chinese staff in legal jeopardy of their own, and pulling out of China is not an option Yahoo is willing to contemplate.

Yahoo is currently involved in a US lawsuit alleging that the company is complicit in torture because of its cooperation with Chinese legal procedures, and a second plaintiff has just joined the case.

Also, to Chinese jails.

The Chinese government is happy to use the company to bolster political prosecutions, but this doesn’t mean that Yahoo is safe from state persecution. Its Flickr photo-sharing service has been unreachable in most of China for a week, according to Reuters, and the company believes that the service is being blocked by the government.

A possible reason: Flickr can be used to show pictures of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations. “It is our understanding that Flickr users in China are not able to see images on Flickr, and we have confirmed that this is not a technical issue on our end,” a Yahoo spokesperson said.

Yahoo continues to develop resources for the Chinese market, though. Even as Flickr remains unavailable, Yahoo today announced that the service is available in several traditional Chinese languages (along with French, German, Korean, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese).

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Chinese dalliance with Wikipedia may be over

By Eric Bangeman | Published: November 17, 2006 – 12:25PM CT

Last month, China began allowing access to the English version of Wikipedia to Internet users in that country, and the Chinese-language version was unblocked last week. Reports coming from China today indicate that Wikipedia access may have been short lived, as many Chinese ‘Net users say that they can no longer reach the popular site.

At this time, it is not known whether this is an official government effort to nudge Wikipedia out of the reach of Chinese citizens, or whether other issues are causing the site to be unreachable. China has a history of exercising a high degree of control over its citizens’ Internet habits, with the so-called Great Firewall of China blocking access to sites deemed inappropriate by the government.

Once Wikipedia became reachable from within the borders of China, many wondered how long the access would last. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales told the Observer in September that the reasons for the ban were unclear to him. “We have internal rules about neutrality and deleting personal attacks [and] we’re far from being a haven for dissidents or a protest site,” said Wales. At the same time, Wales promised that Wikipedia would not give in to any government efforts to censor it.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told the AP that China “actively supports and promotes the development of the Internet,” saying that she had no information on Wikipedia being blocked. “We manage the Internet in accordance with our laws and regulations,” Jiang added.

Western entities looking to operate in China have long had to play by the government’s rules, and the Internet has proven to be no exception. Amnesty International has been critical of Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo for giving into Chinese government demands, and representatives from those and other companies were hauled before a congressional committee in February to explain their actions in China.

Back in June, Google cofounder Sergey Brin said that his company may end up pulling out of China at some point. Google has to play by a set of rules that it is “not comfortable with,” said Brin, adding that the decision to do business there was a difficult one that compromised its principles. Wikipedia may be another story, as Wales doesn’t appear interested in bowing to government pressure to change how Wikipedia operates. As a result, Wikipedia availability from within China may be a thing of the past.

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