Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Civilising the Net

There has been much talk about the Chinese Great Firewall, yet less about the e-police that monitor online activity covertly. Now there are moves for netizens in Chine to help with the self-monitoring of netiquette.

As a post on Smartmobs recently pointed out:

"This IHT article says "to her fellow students,Hu Yingying appears to be a typical undergraduate,plain of dress, quick with a smile and perhaps possessed of a little extra spring in her step, but otherwise decidedly ordinary.And for Hu,in her second year at Shanghai Normal University,coming across as ordinary is just fine, given the parallel life she leads".Further,"part traffic cop, part informer,part discussion moderator,and all done without the knowledge of her fellow students,Hu is a small part of a huge effort in mainland China to sanitize the Internet.For years,China has had its Internet police,reportedly including as many as 50,000 state agents who are online,blocking Web sites,erasing commentary and arresting people for what is deemed anti-Party,or anti-social,speech.But Hu,one of 500 students at her university's newly bolstered,student-run Internet monitoring group,is a cog in a different kind of machine,an ostensibly voluntary one that the Chinese government is mobilizing to help it manage the monumental task of censoring the Web.In April,that effort was named "Let the Winds of a Civilized Internet Blow,"and is itself part of a broader "socialist morality" campaign started by the Chinese leadership to reinforce social and political control,known as the Eight Honors and Disgraces.Under the Civilized Internet initiative,service providers and other companies have been urged to purge their servers of offensive content,ranging from pornography to anything that smacks of overt political criticism or dissent.The Chinese authorities say that more than two million supposedly "unhealthy" images have already been deleted under this campaign by various mainland Internet service providers,and more than six hundred supposedly "unhealthy" Internet forums were shut down.These deletions are presented as voluntary acts of corporate civic virtue, but have a coercive aspect to them,because no company would likely risk being singled out as a laggard.Having started its own ambitious Internet censorship efforts, or "harmful information defense system,"long before the latest government campaign,Shanghai Normal University,where Hu monitors her fellow students,is promoting itself within the education establishment as a pioneer".

No comments: