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Chinese Portals Pledge More Self-Policing 125

An anonymous reader writes "A slew of Chinese web portals have pledged to self-police even more, after signing on to a Beijing plan to 'clean up the internet'. Google and MSN have not joined the group." From the article: "The firms' pledge states that the Internet has become an important source of information and entertainment in China, now the world's second-biggest market with more than 100 million Web surfers. 'At the same time as the Web develops quickly, certain sites are transmitting unhealthy news ... and uncivilized voice services, including pornographic content that can be harmful to society,' said the pledge, which was dated earlier this month in a posting on Sina's Web site."
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Chinese Portals Pledge More Self-Policing

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  • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @08:52AM (#15195836) Journal

    At the same time as the Web develops quickly, certain sites are transmitting unhealthy news ... and uncivilized voice services, including pornographic content that can be harmful to society,

    Sounds more like something Alberto Gonzales and the Bush White House would say.

    The sad part is, while I'm writing this "tongue-in-cheek", if it were to be a headline in tomorrow's paper, nobody would be surprised.

    • The really sad part for the US is, how many Average Joe Sixpacks would read that headline and fail to see a problem with it?
      • No. The sad part is how many supposedly intelligent Slashdotters think it's perfectly reasonable to compare a Democratic Republic, with elected representatives, to a communist state. The difference between the two, in case you didn't notice, is that in the USA when the government makes bad decisions you can protest publicly and vote them out of office. When you do that in China, lines of tanks roll down Tianamen Square and you disappear.
      • What we need to do is get about 20-30 of us on an open source style project (Creative Commons) and create a short clip that will appeal to Joe Sixpack, and educate him on why his freedom is important. Why can't we slashdot start a project to educate our fellow citizens? All Joe Sixpack knows is Fox News and the local newspaper, and most likely doesn't know any better or different. We still have the ability to create free media, and we still have free speech, so lets use it while we still can. Instead of sit
    • Actually, Sen. Feinstein is the one sympathetic to Communist China.
    • by cryfreedomlove ( 929828 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @09:21AM (#15195982)
      Tomhudson, I'm against human rights abuses without regard as to who the perpetrator is. If human rights are abused by China, them I'm against it. If human rights are abused by George Bush, then I am against it. Those are my principles. What are yours?

      Despite your tongue in cheek escape valve, the tone of your post apologizes for human rights abuses in China because you see some abuses in America. Does this mean that in tomhudson's world that two wrongs really do make a right?
      • the tone of your post apologizes for human rights abuses in China because you see some abuses in America

        No... he's highlighting a parallel between a communist regime and the rightist Bush administration.

      • Ha ha. Come on, if you're going to troll, at least put some thought into it. Be a bit original. You put the whole Troll Tuesday concept to shame.

        One country is making progress, but not as fast as some would like. The other is turning back the clock. Pointing out that a story of the US making such a statement would be believable in NO way condones wrongs by either side.

        Besides, I think BadAnalogyGuy [slashdot.org] has prior art on your posting style :-)

        Now, if I had wanted to do some serious trolling, I would have pointed out that most western countries, with the notable exception of the US, consider state-provided basic health care a universal human right. Funny how China shares this value, but in the US, "no money, no candy-striper."

        Medical problems are the #1 cause of personal bankruptcy in the US, when both direct http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/full/ hlthaff.w5.63/DC1 [healthaffairs.org] and indirect effects are factored in. And its not people who are without coverage - " 75.7 percent had insurance at the onset of illness". - think of that - more than 3/4 of those who went bankrupt because of medical bills had insurance.

        What a scam.

        Talk about preying on the sick and the weak - look at your local politician, and how much they're beholden to the HMOs rather than to the voters.

        So, does the person who has to go bankrupt because of medical bills get to enjoy any of the benefits of capitalism, like accumulation of private property and wealth? Nope - the trustee gets to hand over everything to the creditors, with a few basic exemptions, and even this isn't enough to keep many people off the streets or bunking at a relatives.

        Some simple math - " 1.9-2.2 million Americans (filers plus dependents) experienced medical bankruptcy". Multiply this by an average life expectancy of 72 years, and you've got 144 million people who will affected by a medical bankruptcy over the course of their lifetime.

        That's half your population who would be better off under a "communist, socialist" system that other countries, such as that "notorious socialist communist pinko terr'rist havens" (such as Canada) have. Talk about a class structure with haves and have-nots!

        Food for thought: http://www.bankruptcycanada.com/blog/canadian-and- us-bankruptcy-rates/ [bankruptcycanada.com]

        Bankruptcy Rates in the Canada and the US - The huge disparity is because of the health care system.

        The US bankruptcy rate (6.9 per thousand) for the year 2004 is more than twice as high as the Canadian bankruptcy rate (2.6 per thousand). The main reason for the huge disparity in bankruptcy rates in Canada and the US is because of the different health care systems in the two countries.

        Canada has universal health care for all citizens paid for out of taxes. The US system is based on private enterprise mainly provided by insurance companies.

        A Harvard Study reported that half of US bankruptcies were caused by medical Bills (MSNBC) & (ABC News). The study was published online in February of 2005 by Health Affairs. The Harvard study concluded that illness and medical bills caused half (50.4 percent) of the 1,458,000 personal bankruptcies in 2001. The study estimates that medical bankruptcies affect about 2 million Americans annually -- counting debtors and their dependents, including about 700,000 children.

        Most of the medical bankruptcy filers were middle class; 56 percent owned a home and the same number had attended college. In many cases, illness forced breadwinners to take time off from work -- losing income and job-based health insurance precisely when families needed it most. Families in bankruptcy suffered many privations -- 30 percent had a utility cut off and 61 percent went without needed medi

        • Is it really fair to blame the politicians for our current healthcare system when most Americans don't vote? If the public is under such hardship, perhaps they should change things. They're not, which must mean they're happy with the status quo? Now, I don't really think Americans are happy with how things are, but if they're not willing to get involved to change things, then they deserve what they get.

          As for being stuck with President Bush, Americans are free to impeach him at any time. The fact is t

          • Now, I don't really think Americans are happy with how things are, but if they're not willing to get involved to change things, then they deserve what they get.

            This is true. But what would a successful impeachment bring? Dick Cheney as president. Not a pretty picture, either.

            The saddest part of all this is that if anyone had written even half of what the White House does as a plot line a decade ago, it would have been rejected as way too far beyond belief to even be considered as satire or parody, ne

        • China's health system makes America's look like a socialist dream.

          Don't believe the hype about being a "communist" country, long ago has china abandoned universal healthcare, the situation currently is that the vast majority of chinese are self medicating, the only doctors that most of the population can afford to see are the salespeople who work at the counters of the pharmacies.

          China has probably the highest percentage of self-medicated patients in the world.
        • Now, if I had wanted to do some serious trolling, I would have pointed out that most western countries, with the notable exception of the US, consider state-provided basic health care a universal human right.

          Which is not just irrelevant but also stupid. Rights are things one must be allowed to do because they don't hurt others: one has a right to speak, to worship as one chooses, to ingest whatever substances one enjoys, to associate with whomever one pleases, in public or in private. One doesn't have a

          • One doesn't have a right to punch others, or to steal from them--or to hire thugs to steal from them so one can buy Prozac.

            ... who said anything about having a right to do any of those things?

            You're confusing the right to basic health care services with "pharmacare" plans - state-run prescripton drug plans.

            Now if you were trying to argue that nobody has the right to tax you to pay for someone else's health care plan, I'd make the argument of enlightened self-interest;

            1. single-payer plans are cheaper
            • A few problems with this:

              single-payer plans are cheaper to run, so overall health costs go down - that includes YOUR health costs

              Hardly. Lots of people who aren't insured at all will become more insured, which will greatly increase costs. The increase in insurance without any associated personal cost or competition will increase the consumption of services, often wastefully. More people are likely to go to the doctor in Canada than in the US.

              costs in other parts of the system go down, as people aren't fo
    • You just compared America with China in terms of censorship?

      Sir, you are clearly blinded by hatred.
      • You just compared America with China in terms of censorship?

        Sir, you are clearly blinded by hatred.

        Hatred? Of who? I've dealt with both Americans and Mainland Chinese, and I've gotten along great with both. Can you say the same?

        I'm not looking at it in absolute terms, but in overall trends. China has moved to a more market-demand-oriented economy and has started to allow foreign investment and joint partnerships. From a westerner's point of view, these are "good things." Contrast this with the inc

    • China's government may be aggressively bullying ISPs into blocking content they don't like their own citizens to read or see, whether it's political or religious or sexual, but they don't seem to have taken any significant action against spammers, either the SMTP senders or especially the Spamvertised Web Sites and phishing sites that suckers respond to. So they're still annoying the rest of the world with their content. Maybe they beat up an occasional spammer in public, but mostly it seems to be left a
  • Going a little OT here, but the article gives one of the reasons for censorship as:

    Controversial content has been under the spotlight recently after the widespread publicity surrounding an online video of a woman wearing high-heeled shoes stomping a cat to death.

    If true, that is disgusting (although I don't see how censorship is going to solve the problem).

    More details at snopes [snopes.com]

    • Re:Sick! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Billosaur ( 927319 ) *
      Going a little OT here, but the article gives one of the reasons for censorship as:

      Controversial content has been under the spotlight recently after the widespread publicity surrounding an online video of a woman wearing high-heeled shoes stomping a cat to death.

      Actually, it's that kind of thing that has to be reported and made available. It's like trying to hide under the covers -- sure, you don't see any bad things, but you don't see any good things either. More importantly, you don't get to choose

      • And the world would be perfect if everyone just got more hugs...

        Your so called absolutes are anything but, and even if they were, several are potentially contradictory, and would be prioritised differently in different cultures/situations, rendering them nonsensical.
        • Your so called absolutes are anything but, and even if they were, several are potentially contradictory, and would be prioritised differently in different cultures/situations, rendering them nonsensical.

          It's culture that is to blame for these things being contradictory and nonsensical. I think killing is repugnant; I believe most people would agree that taking another person's life is wrong. Of course then the problem becomes, if someone kills someone, what do we do? Do we kill them, in contravention of o

          • And culture creates a divide at this point: in some cultures, "an eye for an eye" is a perfectly acceptable idea
            It is in mine as well. Because this verse is almost universally misinterpreted to prescribe vengeance. It is clear from the context that it requires justice and appropriate penalties for a crime: no more, no less.

            Compare and contrast with Islamic cultures, where a thief's hand is cut off for stealing.

          • It's easy, just find out which side is wrong, and kill them.
      • Even reading this makes me sick. May be that is the reason the details of such incidents are not made public.

        Now on more general note:

        Chinese society is quite stable and as far as I know the dissidents are minority. And by dissidents I mean people who are ready to do at least little sacrifies in fight for their convictions, not people who grumble about politics to their wives in their kitchens

        Same situation, as probably not so many of /.ers knew, existed in Soviet Russia since 60s. Many people complained, i
    • Whether the news reports it and people read it or not, crap like this will happen anyway. Would rape stop if the news stopped reporting it? Hell no. We would be ignorant from the truth. Stomping a cat to death is despicable, immoral (by my standards), and most importantly, illegal anywhere I know of.

      What if this happened in the USA? That woman would stand trial for animal cruelty and probably go to jail. Certainly not for as long as murder, maybe only a few months, but she would see justice. The video woul

    • While snopes says they haven't determined the validity, you can be assured the pictures are faked.

      Open up a copy in GIMP and take a close look. Everything up to picture 8 is posed in such a way as to make it look like something's happening (a la the bonzai kittens) but there's no harm whatsoever.

      Picture 8 is an obvious fake.

      Pictures 9 and 10 (which are the same picture), and picture 11, are inconsistent with picture 8, as well as the previous set of pictures. Picture 11 is such a bad cut/paste job tha

      • I've heard from lots of my friends who have watched this video, and it is indeed real- obviously there would be problems when you are trying to show STILL SCREENSHOTS of a VIDEO, that is supposed to MOVE. Heck, when I try to take a screenshot of a video at the wrong moment, it looks like a bad photoshop job too, so just blame it on ineptitude on the part of the person getting the screenshots. Sorry- it just makes me angry to see that people actually refuse to believe that such a thing could happen, or inst
        • Someone was kind enough to forward a copy of the video to me, and its almost 100% certain its a fake. A VERY GOOD (or VERY BAD) fake, but a fake. There wre at least two kittens used. The kitten in the opening sequence is already dead, the head doesn't match up to the body in the sequence where they animate the front paws using a mask and shots from a second cat, there are two "mis-steps" where the kitten supposedly meows in pain even though the heel missed all body parts, and if you take the time to look y

    • Yes, let's have government determine its legislative agenda by urban legends! This could be fun. For one thing, you wouldn't see too many KFCs around (they raise chickens without heads!) and parties will be forbidden, lest you wake up in a bathtub full of ice with a kidney missing. There will also be need for laws against drinking soft drinks out of cans (because of ultra-poisonous substances left on the outside of the can by rats and which could kill you instantly). While we're at it, let's have laws prohi
      • ... but at least you could still eat a bowl of chili at Wendy's and thumb a ride afterwards :-)

        Q.How was the chili today?
        A. I'd give it one thumb up - the same it gave me.

        I lived next to a rep from mainland China for a year. Quiet guy, friendly enough. He was here to sell industrial gloves, etc. I've dealt with other people there, and the one thing that has struck me the most is their earnestnest. Something we seem to have less and less of here.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    But at least our whole country isn't behind a firewall meant to hide us from the truth.

    Between forced abortions, organ harvesting of Falun Gong members, and poisoning sitting presidents at large banquets, China has shown its true colors time after time. I guess if China keeps funding our government, we have no choice but to look the other way.

    A bit sad really.
    • Here's the thing - all governments have their dirty little secrets. Like, when are we going to be allowed to see ALL the evidence as to who killed John Kennedy?

      Every elected president has had the power to release everything. Not one has. Why not?

      Its been more than 40 years ... why not put the conspiracy theorists to pasture by opening up all the evidence? Or is the truth as bad as, or worse than, the theories?

      Information is neutral - it doesn't "want to be free". Its what we do with it that counts. C

  • Now there's a great tag for some Slashdot stories...
  • ...never to commit [blogspot.com] genocide against its own people [hawaii.edu] or against Tibetans [meaus.com], then maybe people would give their desires "to clean up" the Internet a little more credence. What China's Communist government wants to clean up the most is its own image, be it genocide, the Tienamen Square crackdown, it's owngoing repression of Falun Gong [faluninfo.net], or the horrific treatment of political prisoners in the Laogai (aka "China's Gulag"). [laogai.org] I'm sure that pornorgraphy is a far lesser concern.

    • Remember David Koresh? You sure showed the American attitude toward cults in Waco, didn't you? Do you think there is any difference between the Branch Davidian and Falun Gong? Read up, boy.

      Political prisoners? How about Gitmo? Those prisoners are prisoners of war, but not treated as prisoners of war, being denied their right to an attorney. Or in Abi Grail, the sheer torture has made the world shocked over how brutal the Americans are. They came to Iraq to liberate the people from Saddam's torture, only to
  • You mean to tell me there is stuff on the internet BESIDES pornography? Why didn't anyone tell me!
  • I thought we already cleaned the internet [snopes.com] earlier this month...
  • Goatse pics definitely are "pornographic content that can be harmful to society"
    • Warning: Keep out of reach of children. Slashdot may contain flamebait, trolls, and sheer nonsense. Slashdot may cause sleep deprevation, procrastination, or eye strain if used excessively. Use at own risk.
  • Sounds remarkably like what Hollywood did in the 1930s or so and what American comics publishers did in the 1950s in the form of the Comics Code: In order to avoid being censored by government legislation, they decided to censor themselves.

    Movies abided by rules such as: No prolonged kissing - never show even a married couple in the same bed - no revenge plots (the hero just happened to kill his enemies in self defence while pursuing nobler goals) etc. ad nauseam. The excision of politics was just an unwritten rule, but followed particularly religiously until the 60s.

    The Comics Code was even more rigorous. It killed comics as a form of entertainment for adults up until the 1990s. Horror comics, erotic comics, realistic violence etc. ceased to exist. Nothing but spandex pap was left in its wake. And if you say now that you're a grown-up who reads Marvel comics, tell me: Just how grown-up do you feel while you're doing it? I feel about 12 years old when I dive into X-Men.
  • Yahoo will give up anything a government asks for. They don't even question why a government would want some piece of information. I wish entities like the ACLU would go after Yahoo and make them start, at least, pausing and thinking before they act.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hitler never actually came up with or did much of his atrocities himself, or even thought up the details in the first place. Instead he encouraged many of his cronies to come up with whatever ideas and act in whatever manner they thought would please their leader the most. And they happily complied.
  • its lieing when it says i'm posting from a .gov.cn address, it is, please believe me! dont you? i'm just a regular user!

    nothing happend in tienamen square, you have no proof! the chinese government doesn't lie! also nothing happend in tibet, its a lie too, you are all full of shit, please stop posting that somthing did happen. there is lots of pornographic content out there, i can get to every site and it offends me, when i login with my username bighairycunt i dont want to see naked people doing sick thing
  • self-policing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tigris ( 192178 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @09:58AM (#15196200)
    The New York Times put up an interesting article [nytimes.com] this past Sunday about Google and China which discussed the self-policing mechanism:
    American Internet firms typically arrive in China expecting the government to hand them an official blacklist of sites and words they must censor. They quickly discover that no master list exists. Instead, the government simply insists the firms interpret the vague regulations themselves. The companies must do a sort of political mind reading and intuit in advance what the government won't like. ... As a result, Internet executives in China most likely censor far more material than they need to. The Chinese system relies on a classic psychological truth: self-censorship is always far more comprehensive than formal censorship. By having each private company assume responsibility for its corner of the Internet, the government effectively outsources the otherwise unmanageable task of monitoring the billions of e-mail messages, news stories and chat postings that circulate every day in China. The government's preferred method seems to be to leave the companies guessing, then to call up occasionally with angry demands that a Web page be taken down in 24 hours. "It's the panopticon," says James Mulvenon, a China specialist who is the head of a Washington policy group called the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis. "There's a randomness to their enforcement, and that creates a sense that they're looking at everything."
  • ...at least they have Google to look up to in their quest to self-censor.

    Then again hearing Bush go on the attack against the press makes you wonder if it isn't merely a little more obvious in the case of China. I'm sure I'm not 100% right about this, but I can't remember a single newspaper officially taking the position that invading Iraq was wrong back in 2002/2003, not even the New York Times.
  • The artical sights a few examples of things the government deems unhealthy, including stomping cats while in high heels and voic/porn services... FTA: The pledge comes amid a broader, ongoing movement by Beijing to clean the Internet of pornography and other content that leaders of the ruling Communist Party consider "unhealthy." So basicaly we are just looking at mainstream chinese internet affiliaes looking to keep the government off thier backs by being proactive in filtering content.
    • *The artical sights a few examples of things the government deems unhealthy, including stomping cats while in high heels*

      I love it when governments let policy be decided on things that could potentially turn out to be hoaxes and urban legends. Frankly it really sounds like an excuse for the so-called "Communist" party to crack down on people saying things that party mandarins don't want to hear, or don't want others to read.
  • The solution to the problem of Chinese censorship on the Internet is simple enough -- we just make the internet flee China completely. How? [insert evil grin here]

    Imagine a botnet, sending out rapid-fire cease-and-desist notices to every site operating in China, informing site owners of out-of-compliace content. Companies will struggle to remove content from the web fast enough to keep up with the vaguely threatening notices. That's the second edge of self-censorship, turned against the people wielding it

  • ... in regards to "unhealthy content". Right now personally I am quite effectively battling all the filth that it is there, but I am talking about our kids, naive (in terms of good and evil, but, alas, quite shrewd in they ways of harming themselves) teenagers that they are.

    Complete freedom is an easy way to financial success. Once the value of morality relative to value of wealth and other worldy things will start to grow, more and more businessmen will choose self-policing, God willing.
    • Censorhip for the sake of keeping your kids from seeing highly disturbing content is one thing--and in many(not all) ways a good thing. I would think most parents would stop censoring internet access after their kids have matured significantly, i.e. like when they go off to live in a dorm in college, or something along those lines. But when the government effectively censors the content from you cause they don't want you to have and range of free thinking whatsoever, then I think the government has ultimate
      • don't want you to have and range of free thinking whatsoever

        I agree that this is a serious danger, especially with current administration.

        But I do not agree (not necessarily with the parent post, because I do not know his/her views on that matter) that we should rely on government or institutions that the government can easily take control of to ensure our rights to free decent speech.

        I think every young American should learn from the cradle that he has a right to take arms and fight his own government if g
  • Government Agent 1: *Web browsing for 'bad' content'* Oh look, agent 2.

    Government Agent 2: *responds* What did you find?

    Government Agent 1: *grinning* A website full of 'bad content' such as documents about the UN bill of rights, contraceptives, atheism, capitalism, GPL software, (CC)'d music, independent blogs with no recognizable identity, and philsophy.

    Government Agent 2: *grins as well* Oh yes, we caught ourselves a really bad boy....
  • "A slew of Chinese web portals have pledged to self-police even more, after signing on to a Beijing plan to 'clean up the internet'. Google and MSN have not joined the group."

    Time for 50+ posts explaining to us how, if it's not a government doing it, it's not censorship.
  • Self-policing is the primary means of censorship in the Chinese media. This bit of news just means that Chinese websites are adopting the same practices as the print media. The new consortium may just be a CYA type move to prevent any one site from being singled out by the government.

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