Thursday, December 27, 2007

Video and the Great Firewall

Christopher Griffin offers an interesting look at the threat online video poses to China's "Great Firewall" of Internet censorship. Originally published in the December 2007 issue of Armed Forces Journal, the article is available on the American Enterprise Institute web site:

The Chinese government has never much enjoyed the Internet age. It employs a nationwide bureaucracy, including countless local "Internet cop" branches, to maintain the "Great Firewall of China" and prevent the seepage of information that may harm the interests of one-party rule in Beijing. This effort has allowed the government to monitor most of its citizens' online activities, block politically offensive Web sites and maintain press censorship in defiance of the millenarian predictions about the Internet from just a few years ago.

The challenge facing China's Internet cops is immense. According to official statistics, China has nearly 140 million Internet users, roughly equal to the population of Russia. To make matters more complicated, the government calculates that half of these digital denizens are spending most of their online time on video sites, where the challenge of censorship can be complicated by the scarcity of such easily searchable keywords as "Tiananmen Massacre" or "Taiwan independence," and where the consequences of a rapidly transmitted video can be far more destabilizing than an online petition or still image.

China Tries to Stem the Tide of Critical Online Videos


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