Filtering by Domestic Blog Providers in China

The latest OpenNet Initiative bulletin focuses on blog filtering by domestic blog providers in China. Three popular domestic blog providers in China were temporarily shutdown in March 2004 but were re-opened later after having filtering technology installed on their services. The ONI tested, and by creating blog entries that contained keywords from the list found in the QQ instant messenger application. When users post blog entries the filtering mechanism checks to see if the post contains any banned keywords relating to topics such as national minorities’ independence movements, the Tiananmen massacre of 1989, Chinese communist leaders, Falun Gong and words referring to uprisings or suppression. If such a keyword is present the filtering mechanism is triggered. Two of the Chinese blog providers we tested prevented the creation of entries that contained these keywords while one censored the entry by replacing the offending words with “*” characters. While relatively coarse, the filtering mechanism demonstrates the multi-level Internet controls in China which extend from regulation of Internet access to limits on what content may be posted on-line.

(Red Herring has picked up the story.)

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