Posts tagged censorship
A critic of the Chinese government and blogger, Hu Xingdou, sued his Internet Service Provider because they shut down his website because they claimed he was hosting illegal content. The judge in Beijing said Hu should have been given the chance to censor himself and awarded him 200 bucks in damages.
A Beijing judge has ruled that an internet hosting company was wrong to close a prominent government critic’s website over illegal content, in the first case won by a victim of internet censorship in a Chinese court. Hu Xingdou, an economics professor who regularly discusses topics ranging from corruption to police brutality on his webpage, sued Beijing Xin Net in April after the hosting company sent him an e-mail saying the site contained “illegal” content and had been shut down.
In a verdict issued on May 20, the Daxing district court said the company had failed to provide proof for its claim and to prove that it asked Mr Hu to change the incriminated content before closing the site, as required in their contract.
As demanded by Mr Hu, the court ordered Xin Net to return the $201 fee he had paid for two years of services. The verdict did not discuss the issue of free speech.
The verdict raises the pressure on internet service providers as they get stuck between the authority of the censors and the law.
In China, various bodies including the Communist party’s propaganda department, the police and different ministries and other government institutions on all administrative levels monitor and censor online content. However, they rarely block websites or blogs themselves but rather make hosts do this for them. This is sometimes done through outright orders, and in other cases through self-censorship by internet companies.
Steinnon takes this opportunity to call on Yahoo! and Google to stop helping China censor its citizens. I don’t think the verdict will reach quite that far, but I also hope that the search providers will stop providing logfiles to Chinese authorities without first trying to contact its users. Yahoo! put one blogger in jail for 10 years by blindly cooperating with the Communist overlords there. See a previous article here where Microsoft shut down a blog. Rather than beat up high tech companies for kowtowing to the Chinese, I view their entrance into the Chinese market as something that will eventually help them win their freedom.
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