Internet in China: limited access

In China there are 700 million internet users. (iStock)

Chinese authorities control the content that is shared on the internet and block foreign websites and apps

China is the most populated country on the planet and its inhabitants represent a quarter of Internet users worldwide. But it is also the country with the strictest control system.

The authorities monitor the content that is shared on the country’s networks, also in private messages such as emails, and block thousands of foreign websites with prohibited content.

In addition, the police have the authority to arrest those who break the laws on Internet and therefore China is the country the most Internet users arrested for over censorship reasons, reported by the human rights NGO Amnesty International.

The sentences usually involve several years of imprisonment for activists. (iStock)

The majority of accusations are for communicating with foreign groups, signing online petitions, demanding political and economic changes and protesting against corruption.

Golden Shield: massive internal surveillance

Since the arrival of Internet in China in 1994, both the government and the Communist Party decided that it was necessary to control the network to maintain control of the country.

In order to achieve that, the Golden Shield project was launched in 1998. It is a surveillance and censorship system designed by the Department of Public Security in which hundreds of thousands of police and computer technicians work.

Part of the equipment used to control internet activity is produced by companies in the United States and Europe. (iStock)

Through the Golden Shield project, Chinese websites and any type of online communication are controlled.

The objective is to detect prohibited content: any information that contains political ideas contrary to the regime’s or calls for protests. The Chinese police can investigate and even arrest people who violate the rules on information on the Internet.

The Great Firewall, the Great Wall of China on Internet

The part of the surveillance system that is dedicated to the blocking of some foreign websites has been called the Great Firewall.

Authorities limit access to some websites and demand foreign companies to adapt to the the country’s strict laws if they do not want to be blocked.

This system prevents anyone from checking media websites, social networks and mobile apps that are widely used worldwide.

“The Great Firewall blocks international sites while the Golden Shield controls China’s inner content “

Websites with taboo information in China, especially those with political and religious content against the regime, are blocked or partially censored, as is the case with Wikipedia and WordPress blogs and Blogger.

Other forbidden websites are those that contain information on the Dalai Lama and the Tibet independence movement, the government of Taiwan, Chinese subversive groups, and news about Chinese police and torture or about freedom of expression.

An ecosystem of websites and apps

But the Great Firewall has also driven an internal market of parallel websites, Chines copies to replace the banned or limited original versions.

For example Baidu, the Chinese Google; Youku Tudou, similar to YouTube; Weibo, instead of Twitter; and WeChat as a substitute for Facebook. Also Tencent and Alibaba, two giants of online shopping, which compete with Amazon.

In China, the law prohibits children under 18 from entering cybercafés. (iStock)

Translated by Chaplin’s Languages | Find out more in Junior Report

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