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China Forces Registration of All Websites In Effort to Muzzle Dissent

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The Chinese government Ministry of Information Industry (MII) has announced that all websites — including blogs, forums and chat rooms — located within its borders have to register with the government by June 30 or be shut down. Commercial sites face fines of up to one million yuan ($120,000) if they do not comply.

The decree was issued on March 20 with the intention of controlling information that might “endanger the country.” The Ministry announcement also said, “The Internet has profited many people but it also has brought many problems, such as sex, violence and feudal superstitions and other harmful information that has seriously poisoned people’s spirits,” in explaining the requirement. The Ministry claims 74% of Chinese sites have thus far complied with the dictate.

International media watchdog group, Reporters Without Borders, expresses alarm that, “Those who continue to publish under their real names on sites hosted in China will either have to avoid political subjects or just relay the Communist Party’s propaganda. This decision will enable those in power to control online news and information much more effectively.”

“The Chinese authorities use this type of announcement above all to intimidate website operators and bloggers,” writes RWB. “The authorities also hope to push the most outspoken online sites to migrate abroad where they will become inaccessible to those inside China because of the Chinese filtering systems.”

RWB also expresses concern that the communist Chinese government has a new system for monitoring sites in real time and spotting those that fail to comply. The “Night Crawler” (Pa Chong, in Chinese) system can reportedly locate and block unregistered sites and will be implemented in early June.

In May, many Chinese bloggers received e-mail messages telling them to register to avoid being declared illegal and shut down. A China-based blogger told Reporters Without Borders that the Shanghai police recently “rendered his website inaccessible” because it had not been registered. When he phoned MII to ask what he had to do in order to register, he says he was told that in his case it was “not worth bothering” because “there was no chance of an independent blog getting permission to publish.”

China has the world’s second largest Internet population (behind the United States) with more than 87 million users and over 300,000 blogs; it also the world’s largest jailer of cyber dissidents, having detained more than 60 people for expressing “dangerous” views online.

More on Chinese government efforts to control the Internet here and here

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • With the exception of child pornography and some hardcore racism, I shiver at the thought of any Internet regulation or censorship. It boggles the mind that China can think that it can be a world leader like many western nations and think this type of behavior is still acceptable.

  • Eric Olsen

    totally agreed Tan

  • Yeah, I’d stop some things online if I could but I’m sure that the Chinese government will use their imperative for political and cultural repression, if they can. It remains to be seen if they have the means to regulate so many people in such a wily medium.


    There was a bill in the US Congress that would have restricted bloggers from discussing politics, as well, part of the campaing finanvce reform policy, IIRC. I’d like to say it died a quick death upon introduction, but I believe it is still alive. On a good note, it seems like there was nipartisan support for the bill, hard to believe elected representatives would act to shieeld themselves from criticism, isn’t it?

  • Nancy

    What commiepinkoidiot sponsored THAT bill?! No, it’s NOT hard to believe, unfortunately. Well, at least most of them still had some shreds of sanity left, not to support it.

  • Eric Olsen

    it’s a little more complicated: isn’t the bill to force political sites to attach a value to their advocacy for the purposes of campaign finance reporting?

    We need Justene to chip in on this.

  • Nancy

    So it wouldn’t impact on non-politically-sponsored sites and commentary like this one?

  • Eric Olsen

    we have political content but not all that much pure “advocacy”

  • That’s the ting with these US campaign regulations- it’s hard telling what the impact would be. How will some FEC or FCC commisar or judge decide to interpret the law, or what sub-regulations will they simply make up to implement the law.

    John McCain, of course, is the main congessman pushing this stuff. Here Senator McCain explain campaign finance.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Al, you’re right about the law of unintended consequences

  • Nancy

    MCCAIN sponsored this – ?

  • Eric, I don’t think these consequences are unintended. McCain’s whole point here is to regulate political speech, and ultimately damp down criticism of exalted public servants such as himself. Hard telling if he had considered how his nonsense would apply specifically to the internet, but moving to regulate the internet was a perfectly forseeable consequence.

  • Eric Olsen

    I have a hard time believing McCain wants to “damp down criticism of exalted public servants such as himself,” although that could well be a consequence of his actions

  • Oh, but that’s the whole point of his “campaign finance reform.” He got this campaign reform religion years ago in the wake of being identified and widely attacked as one of the “Keating Five” lo those many years ago.

  • In the interests of well…encouraging and supporting political discourse, has anyone considered a Free-country/censored country informal blogging alliance?

    Like Captain’s Quarters did for Canadians when it came to a publication ban on the Gomery inquiry, American or European bloggers could do for Chinese bloggers.

  • “The United States Of Chunghwa”

  • Jim C

    Canadians can read Captains Quarters. That’s not the case in China. The major part of their control of information is the Great Firewall that blocks out most of the content and websites available elsewhere in the world.

  • Eric Olsen

    my guess is they can slow and redirect the flow, but they can’t stop it indefinitely