There was a recent news story on CBC about the stock of the Chinese search engine Baidu being traded on NASDAQ with an opening day gain of 354%. This reminded me of the important research being done through The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School on Internet filtering and censorship by the Chinese government. There is a full text report entitled Internet Filtering in China in 2004-200: A Country Study. From the executive summary of this report:
China’s Internet filtering regime is the most sophisticated effort of its kind in the world. Compared to similar efforts in other states, China’s filtering regime is pervasive, sophisticated, and effective. It comprises multiple levels of legal regulation and technical control. It involves numerous state agencies and thousands of public and private personnel. It censors content transmitted through multiple methods, including Web pages, Web logs, on-line discussion forums, university bulletin board systems, and e-mail messages. Our testing found efforts to prevent access to a wide range of sensitive materials, from pornography to religious material to political dissent. Chinese citizens seeking access to Web sites containing content related to Taiwanese and Tibetan independence, Falun Gong, the Dalai Lama, the Tiananmen Square incident, opposition political parties, or a variety of anti-Communist movements will frequently find themselves blocked. While it is difficult to describe this widespread filtering with precision, our research documents a system that imposes strong controls on its citizens’ ability to view Internet content.