China proposes foreign censorship with new Web rules, according to critics

March 31, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

China proposes foreign censorship on the Internet in a series of bills. The new controversial rules being proposed by the Communist Party will require businesses that serve domestic Internet users to register their Web addresses inside the country.

China proposes foreign censorship

China proposes foreign censorship rules, and many companies are not pleased by the news. This week, the Communist Party put in place a series of cyber barriers that many are calling “Internet sovereignty.”

The new rules proposed by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, under Article 37, require any firm that provides services to Chinese users to register its domain, or web address, with a Chinese provider. Those in violation of the new regulations could be fined up to 30,000 yuan (about $1,360).

Many experts say the tough rules will further limit access to the Chinese network and scare foreign businesses like American giants – Apple and Microsoft.

Rogier Creemers, an expert on Chinese media policy at the University of Oxford, said the rules are outdated and draconian, and went on to explain the consequences of the law:

“This expands control over domestic Internet operators and contributes to the gradual buildup of the capability underpinning Internet sovereignty,”

Long Weilian, an IT consultant and activist blogger based in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, said the move will allow the government to block more sites even faster from Chinese users. He said:

“…the main targets appear to be Chinese Internet companies that store their content domestically but keep their Web address registered overseas with reputable, international firms for security purposes. Requiring them to shift their registration to a domestic provider under Chinese government control would allow censors to react more quickly in blocking access to certain sites.”

Long added:

“Before, they had to contact the server, get the address, talk to the manager and then ask them to censor something. If the domains are all domestic, they can directly stop traffic going to your domain with a command.”

Jacob Parker, vice president for China operations with the U.S.-China Business Council, which lobbies the Chinese government on trade policy, stated that they are very concerned that the rules would block the free flow of information. Parker said:

“Any kind of restrictions would undermine China’s broader economic development goals,”

However, Fang Xingdong, the director of a top Chinese technology think tank, is more hopeful, and he believes that Chinese leaders will soften the rules after hearing from the public. The draft is open for public discussion until April 25. Xingdong stated:

“Under the current wording, all this is doing is integrating large Chinese Web service providers under a more rigorous supervision framework, while most small businesses won’t be affected.”

Xingdong said the government is trying to enhance their control, but not to “wall China off from the rest of the world.”

What are your thoughts on China’s new foreign censorship Internet rules?

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