Sex & Religion

Two recent reports highlight China’s interest in blocking access to both sex and religious web sites. The Straits Times reports that China has “adopted a catch-all definition for pornography” but only has a block list of “500 sites”, which seems rather low. In my informal testing, standard porn sites (e.g. playboy) as well as a sampling of transvestite porn sites were accessible from computers located in China.

Forum 18 conducted tests from within China of several hundred religious sites” during “a two-month period” (May-July 2004) and “looked at access in a variety of locations in China”. (The Zittrain/Edelman study looked at 1,763 sites categorized by Yahoo! as “Religion and Spirituality”.) The study found that many sites were inaccessible in China, but these same sites were available in Europe and North America. The report does not detail the methodology used in the testing and does not reveal the complete testing results but does provide a good concurring overview of the filtering of religious sites in China.

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