Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Setting Limits on China's Internet Highway

One of many internet cafes in China where users must register to use it

The opportunity for China to be virtually connected has suffered a major setback now that the government has instituted more controls on the internet.
Places like coffee shops, restaurants and hotels that used to offer this service for free now have to buy a software that will provide public security officials the identities of those customers online.
Businesses need to buy the software which costs $3,100 and if they don't, they face a HK$2,300 fine and could lose their business license.
So now instead of having to go through the hassle of buying the software and being responsible for strangers using wifi on their premises, businesses would rather not offer the free internet service anymore.

"From the point of view of the common people, this policy is unfair," said Wang Bo, a cafe owner. "It's just an effort to control the flow of information."

This is another in a series of internet tightening measures the paranoid government is implementing in order to crack down on online dissent. While most foreign media explain the latest edict came down because of the recent spring revolutions in the Middle East, sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were already blocked years ago due to the Tibet and Xinjiang riots, and then there was a campaign to get rid of anything "yellow", a code name for pornography.

Not only does the government have an army filtering what people are saying and seeing online, now they want to know the identities of the hundreds of millions of people who are on the internet. Tracking all these people will be another cumbersome bureaucratic layer. Who wants to have that job?

The government doesn't care if businesses lose customers and revenues because they don't offer wifi anymore -- it's all in the name of stability.

This just makes things worse for small entrepreneurs and hotels who will now have to find other ways to make more money and also soothe the fears of paranoid foreign guests worried about Big Brother.

As one shop owner who wished to be anonymous said, "We have no problem allowing our customers to surf the internet; it's the government that does. If they want us to install the software, they should foot the bill."

Sounds more like an economic stimulus project than for national security...

1 comment:

  1. typical feudal chinese thinking--the shameful things stay at home and not to be released.