The Chinese look like they’re about to relax some of their censorship in certain parts of the country allowing the use of Twitter amongst other sites. This is a major breakthrough in the country that has very tight restrictions on its media.
China has always heavily regulated the content its people have access to across all aspects of media. Newspapers, radio, and television all have to adhere to guidelines much more stringent than 90 percent of the rest of the world. This has been the case for a long time.
The internet is no exception. China blocks any site it feels is inappropriate or ‘politically sensitive’. Facebook and Twitter have been blocked since 2009, following riots blamed on social media by the government. Now it’s set to reverse that decision in specific areas of the country to make foreigners “feel at home”.
This move has come as a shock, certainly to those of us who’ve kept a close eye on the World Wide Web, but it’s a step in the right direction. With around 591 million internet users living in the country it’s likely that once these ‘free trade zones’ start to appear there will be calls for them to be spread across the country.
So where China is looking to become more liberal our own Government is heading in the opposite direction. The creation of the Digital Economy Bill back in 2010 has allowed the Government to request internet providers to block access to sites – no questions asked.
This year we have started to see it come into use with file sharing and video streaming sites being blocked. Still we’d have to turn back the clock a long way to equal China though.