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Censorship Regimes On The Chinese Internet

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A short presentation of current thesis project

A short presentation of current thesis project

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  • 1. Censorship enforcement regimes on the Chinese Internet Anders Pedersen Thesis Abstract 16. April 2009 [email_address]
  • 2. What they used to think
    • “ In the new century, liberty will spread by cell phone and cable modem … Now, there’s no question China has been trying to crack down on the internet --- good luck. That’s sort of like trying to nail Jello to the wall.”1 (former President of the United States Bill Clinton, 8 March 2000)
  • 3. Premises
    • Hangovers following the wave of Internet optimism  The Chinese state has succeeded in imposing censorship on the Internet (The Great Firewall, blocking of Youtube and filtering Google.cn)
    • Tradeoff of China as an authoritarian regime: Economic growth or political control
  • 4. Challenges from current research
    • Overwhelming empirical documentation on freedom of expression violations
    • Still little transparency from what the Chinese state does and doesn’t
    • Growing mapping of Chinas governance structures on the Internet
  • 5. Where it leaves this study
    • An institutional framework around “enforcement regimes” allows a focus on “how by who” rather than “how much” censorship
    • In other words: “Which institutional regimes assisted the Chinese state in reaching comprehensive and efficient censorship”
  • 6. Problem formulering
    • What tools have the Chinese role Chinese state manage to censor the Internet and
    • In what way does the censorship-tools applied on the Chinese Internet constitute different enforcement regimes and ?
    • The Great Firewall: the inside-outside dimension
    • The public private regime:
    • The private networks: QQ
  • 7. Key theoretical perceptions
    • The Internet is a constructed space
    • Internet users can be regulated by the architecture itself or by intimidations…
    • Institutions act within structures, but can leverage agency
    • Private agencies and the state are separate, are driven by separate incentives and act accordingly
  • 8. Limitations
    • Self-censorship and panoptical reflections about the Chinese police state
    • Circumvention: political dissidents on Youtube and the use of proxy-servers
    • No extensive disucssion of institutional analysis’ place in authoritarian states
    • The Chinese Internet as an unbalanced public sphere and the idea of authoritarian deliberation
    • The role of the media is not included
  • 9. Normative approach
    • China doesn’t recognize freedom of expression as defined by the ICCPR, but this this study use it as point of departure
    • Freedom of expression within the Internet:
        • Freedom to hold opinions (free to produce content)
        • Freedom to impart information and ideas (access to producing and sharing content)
        • Freedom to receive information which includes the right to gather information (ie. access to unedited search engines)
        • Transparency of censorship regulation (ie. the need for explicit information for users, when material is filtered)
  • 10. Internet as theoretical field
    • Constructed (Lessig)
    • Generative – it inherently generates wealth, innovation and information (Zittrain and Benkler)
    • The end-to-end principle (Zittrain)
    • Can be regulated at the points-of-control
    • Constitutes a legal territory for regulation
  • 11. Structures
    • The socio-economic dynamics of the generative net (incentive for the state)
    • The architecture of the Internet (complex regulatory field)
    • The law (some presence of rule of law)
  • 12. Agency and agents
    • Gatekeepers at the points of control
    • State institutions (enforcement agencies and regulatory boards)
    • Private agencies (Google, Yahoo, Baidu)
    • Users (will seek information and has the right to do so)
  • 13. Mechanisms (operationalizing censorship on the Internet)
    • Logging (surveillance of users): privacy
    • Filtering and blocking websites: access to information and free speech
    • Intimidations such as arrests: free speech
    • The campaign
  • 14. Enforcement regimes
    • An ideal type to understand institutional dynamics and public-private relations
    • Three levels of enforcement:
        • Law and regulation
        • Oversight
        • Execution
  • 15. Three enforcement regimes
    • The Great Firewall:
        • Measure: Filtering inside outside going content
        • Command and control, pure public regime from regulation to execution
        • Shaping policy on Internet freedom (regulation)
        • Managing a complete list of blocked websites (oversight)
        • Implementing the Great Firewall (execution)
  • 16. Private-public co-regulation regime within China
    • The state:
        • Drafting voluntary “public pledge” (regulation)
        • Monitoring the field (oversight)
        • Arresting users (execution)
    • Private agencies:
        • Managing list of key-words to filter content (oversight)
        • Implementing the actual filtering (execution)
        • Sharing information about users with the state (execution)
  • 17. Private regime with state influence
    • Filtering of content within private networks such as QQ and Sina
        • Managing list of filtered key words (oversight)
        • Formulating terms-of-use agreements with users under private legal frameworks
        • Executing filtering and sharing information with the state (execution)
  • 18. Conclusions
    • The Chinese state applies a varied strategy to reach efficient censorship
    • The Chinese state initiates enforcement at all points of control
    • The private agencies plays an individual role a should therefore be held accountable
    • The more points of control on the Internet, the more censorship (Search engines)
  • 19. Consequences for human rights strategies
    • CSR offers a framework for challenging the actions of private agencies
    • CSR attempts to moderate behavior of private agencies
    • CSR frameworks like the Global Network Initiative is currently including enteties like Yahoo!, Google, but no Chinese. Another West><East. CSR thereby continues the dichotomy of current HR discussions of cultural differences and universality.
  • 20. A role model for other states?
    • Will the enforcement regimes shaped in China be brought to other countries?
  • 21. Questions:
    • Is enforcement regimes too static a model?
    • Is the private-public distinction meaningful in an authoritarian regime like the Chinese?
    • What is effective censorship? Currently China is blocking up to 10% op global websites and 20-30% on sensitive words. Is that really a success?