In the early 2000s China were strong on making sure that their authoritarian regimes in order to control the way their citizens accessed the internet. The restrictions placed were key for them to control and confront the political impact of internet use.
Only a few of the 560 million internet users have access to what they want to see. China controls their people’s use and has been named as the third most restrictive country in the world when it comes to accessing the internet after Iran and Cuba.
Measures that they have taken include known as the ‘Great Firewall’ by foreigners are: restricting internet access, filtering specific content, monitoring online behaviours, sometimes to even extend blocking of all internet access. Alongside this they mentioned that they would also ban those who impersonate people or organisations, also those who enforce the requirement for people to use their real names when registers online accounts.
As a member of the public living in China it can be incredibly difficult especially if your work is primarily on the internet. However, there are a number of people who do out rightly abuse the freedom that they are given. In 2015 the Chinese police arrested 15,000 people for Internet related crimes according to Reuters. Some of the crimes included cybercrime, including hacking, online fraud and illegal sale of personal information. The people arrested committed crimes that “jeopardised internet security’, as the government continued to tighten controls on the internet.
In a report by the diplomat site it pointed out that China’s filtering ‘Trade barrier’ has put a huge strain on foreign suppliers, effecting both internet sites and especially those that depend on the internet for their businesses. Complete blocking of websites have appeared to get worse over the past year as 8 of the top 25 most trafficked global sites are now blocked in China.
A computer science major student Steve Fan suspended his graduate studies at Stanford University and headed back to China in 2012. He went back to launch a business in an area he spotted in the world’s largest Internet market. Unfortunately, the ‘Great firewall’ proved to be a problem for him. He mentioned: “Google is often blocked for obscure reasons. For example, if a word in my query is sensitive, like ‘river,’ and if I attempted to search the same term several times, the entire IP address will be blacked out for a minute and a half.” “River” in Chinese is pronounced the same as the last name of China’s former president Jiang Zemin, and therefore censored.
Since having taken over in 2013, President Xi Jinping has increased the level of internet use on China’s internet, which the Communist Party views with huge importance. They went to the extent of launching a six-month program in July 2015, code-named “Cleaning the internet”. This program looked to target websites providing what they call “illegal and harmful information” besides advertisements for pornography, explosives and firearms and gambling. The police looked into 66,000 websites.
Question is, will it make a huge different is China were to put down their internet restrictions? Possibly it will make a difference, however they are ranked 1st with $19million by data from the International Monetary fund (2015). On one hand many may view it is an opening if the barriers were put down and increase their economic growth, education and business. On the other hand it provides safety meaning the people of China do not have to worry about harmful sites.