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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

China's tight rein on online growth

I have stated various times that China's Internet growth is dramatic. In absolute numbers as well as in percentage values - if growth continues in the current torment, it could soon end up with 750 million people regularly going online.

However, there is always this dramatic ambiguity to the growth story - China, in its old methods, still wants to keep a tight lid over what is going on in the Internet world.

In this context I wrote various times their attempt to crack down on various related issues, such as their closure of over 12,000 Internet cafes. BBC actually says that they closed more than 47,000 net cafes were shut for breaking these laws. It is this article that quite detailed describes the race in China between the authorities and the users to control the Internet.

One example of the immense improvement of the government in doing this is in the monitoring level of Internet forums. The article said that the monitoring of comments posted in chat rooms and on bulletin boards is quite aggressive nowadays.

"Thanks to automatic censoring systems undesirable postings only last a few minutes. Less than 18 months ago, such posts would survive for up to 30 minutes." It continues by saying that "currently 54 people are thought to be in jail because they were judged to distributed "illegal" information via the net."

Numbers can be debated and whoever writes something wants to have something like an upper hand. So I believe the race is on. It is probably just so that once the Internet usage numbers get higher and the users more sophisticated, control will get harder. So far, it might still be the "innocence of the users" that allow strict monitoring. Also, Big Brother's watchful eye is getting stronger in a lot of countries recently, not only in China.

(By Asia Business Consulting)