Netbar Crackdown?

A Red Herring story has just come out about the crackdown on Internet cafe’s in China.

Beijing’s crackdown on thousands of Internet cafes grew more from games of Counter-Strike than fears of counter-revolution… Chinese parents aren’t that concerned their kids will join underground pro-democracy parties or learn the truth about human rights violations in Tibet, but rather that they’ll get addicted to online video games. And that might lead to a Chinese parent’s worst nightmare: kids playing hooky and getting bad grades.

I agree with the arguments presented in this article; it seems to me that there is this perception that net cafe’s in China are teeming with cyber-dissidents when its mostly young people playing Counter Strike. However, it should still be noted that the increasing restrictions on net cafe’s do prevent them from being used for anonymous communications and dissident activities.

As Nart Villeneuve of the OpenNet Initiative points out, crackdowns have made it harder for those who used Internet cafes for the relative anonymity they once provided.
“Should one seek banned information from home, there’s always the possibility that this activity could be tracked to one’s home,” said Mr. Villeneueve. “ID card requirements and technical monitoring/filtering, with technology such as Net110, reduce the relative anonymity of the Internet cafes.”

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