The recent upgrades to the Great Firewall, allowing it to sniff out and block most (if not all) VPNs, are only the beginning, according to internet experts.
The South China Morning Post highlights a number of recent editorials in the state media attacking the idea of an open internet and reaffirming the Party’s right to censor and filter Chinese citizens’ web access.
The People’s Daily and Global Times – both mouthpieces of the Communist Party – published pieces emphasising the need for more control over the web, stating that ‘it is the civilians’ wish that the chaotic internet be regulated’.
In Friday’s Global Times – which earlier this month quoted officials saying foreign-run VPNs were illegal – defended restrictions on the internet in an editorial headlined: “Freedom not at odds with online regulation”.
“Problems caused by the internet have been accumulating,” said the newspaper, which, despite the Great Firewall, boasts its own Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“It advocates individual freedom, but at the same time severely damages it.
“It is time to regulate the Internet. Such a view is actually embraced not only by the authorities but also by the public who fear that their privacy may be intruded upon.
“People who feel constrained by it (regulation) are those who create waves online or even use the internet illegally.”
A Xinhua article (CN), titled ‘Most countries support the strengthening of internet regulation’, lays out an apparent international consensus for web filtering.
At the general assembly of the International Telecommunication Union in Dubai, the United States and its allies suffered a major defeat. In a meeting between the 193 Member States of the United Nations, the majority of countries voted in favour of governments’ rights to monitor and regulate citizens’ internet access.
The conference exposed major differences between how Western-style liberal democracies and more autocratic countries see the internet. The United States, and major European powers all favour a hands-off approach to internet regulation, with minimal governmental interference. China, unsurprisingly, disagrees.
The vote [for greater regulation] was 89 countries in favour, 55 against. The majority included Russia, China, Arab nations, Iran, and most countries in Africa. According to the provisions of the International Telecommunication Union, the treaty will take effect in these countries in 2015.
This would seem to suggest that internet regulation and filtering will only get worse in the time between now and 2015, over the protestations of business and expats alike.