Fear of the unknown from the “Great Wall of China”
Facebook, YouTube and Google the three most popular websites cannot be accessed in China due to internet firewall nicknamed “The Great Wall of China”. In China an army of government workers blocked and filtered the internet in the world’s biggest censorship operation ever recorded in the history of internet security.
China’s 731 million internet users now have restrictions over politically sensitive events. During a communist party congress in October, China closed out its online crack-down, blocking america’s messaging service ‘WhatApp’ and clamping down on virtual private networks VPNs commonly used to get around the great firewall. At one stage even “Winnie the Pooh” was banned after bloggers used cartoon character to depict Chinese President Xi Jinping and the word “Toad” was forbidden on ‘Weibo’ a Chinese micro-blogging platform where a giant inflatable yellow Toad in Beijing was compared to former president Jiang Zemin.
According to newsmen at least 50,000 people are employed as censors, filtering out keywords and blocking websites disapproved by the Chinese government. There is also an Army of social media influencers who by one estimate post 480 million pro-government comments a year. Chinese government was left with no choice than to order Tech and Telecoms companies to enforce firewall rules or face severe punishment.
Statistically, China is one of the worst abuses of internet freedom according to “Freedom House” an independent watchdog organization that supports the expansion of freedom around the world. The aim of the censorship is to keep China’s web free of foreign influence while president Xi Jinping calls it “cyber-sovereignty“.
On the contrary, most countries regulate the internet to some extent like banning websites that promotes hates. With more than half of its 1.4 billion population online, China argues that it wants to protect social order and national security. What a rash decision from the government!
Chinese critics argues “The Great Firewall of China” reflects its distrust over the internet’s potential to spread opposition to one-party rule that limits free speech, stifling innovation and prevents the spread of important ideas. If other countries follows China’s example, the reason for internet as an unrestricted global exchange of information will be in jeopardy.