The Chinese government has shut down more than 13,000 websites for breaking Internet laws, reports Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency. These rules and regulations have governed the country’s networks since 2015.
On top of this, 2,200 sites have been called into talks with the Cyberspace Administration of China. Such actions “have a powerful deterrent effect,” says Wang Shengjun, deputy chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, in Xinhua’s report.
China claims its regulations protect national security and stability. Human rights groups feel its harsh Internet laws are repressive, created to block dissent. In its “Freedom on the Net 2017” report, Freedom House called China “the world’s worst abuser of Internet freedom.”
The country, which has more than 731 million people online, has banned thousands of websites, including popular foreign sites Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Social media is highly regulated. China limits its citizens to local social platforms Weibo and WeChat.
Despite its restrictive Internet laws, China’s government says it wants to collaborate with other nations as global Internet access continues to grow. Earlier this month, President Xi Jinping told tech industry leaders to “respect cyberspace sovereignty” and said the country will become a partner in establishing a “common future” online as the world becomes increasingly connected.
While China is an extreme example, it’s not the only country ramping up efforts to limit illicit content and propaganda online. A new law in Germany, for example, imposes fines on social media companies for neglecting to remove posts with hate speech. Social firms have pushed back, saying rules could cause unnecessary censorship.
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