‘Further Web Controls Feared”

RFA has the latest on the government’s reaction to the Wenzhou train crash, and their subsequent deliberations on further muzzling the internet. Obviously the target this time will be Weibo and other twitter-like sites:

China’s propaganda chief has spoken publicly about the problems of controlling the activities of the country’s 500 million netizens, fueling fears that further attempts at control are on the way.

Propaganda department chief Liu Yunshan made the comments on Wednesday during a round-table media discussion held with participants from China, Japan, and South Korea, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.

“The central propaganda department won’t be able to completely control [the actions] of 500 million netizens,” Liu was quoted as saying in response to widespread criticism of his department.

Independent commentator Ye Du said that controls were already in place on Sina Weibo, but that a series of major events, including the recent Wenzhou rail disaster, had flooded the authorities’ capacity to edit, delete, and filter sensitive content.

“I think we can predict that the next wave [of controls] will target the microblogging sites,” Ye said. “There will be a new set of much tighter measures.”

“All of the microblog service providers will come under increased pressure from departments in charge of managing the Internet to step up self-censorship efforts,” he said.

“Controls on sensitive authors and topics will definitely be increased.”

Sichuan-based Internet expert Pu Fei, who works for activist Huang Qi’s 64Tianwang website, said the authorities would likely target sensitive and high-profile bloggers like Woeser, improve their ability to locate banned content, and continue to delete sensitive content when directed by government departments.

“Online rumors are saying that the major Internet companies have boosted the number of online censors to more than 10,000,” Pu said. “But we don’t have any evidence for this right now.”

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Filed under censorship, Great Firewall, internet

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