China government defends Internet censorship laws

China government defends Internet censorship laws

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[JURIST] The Chinese government on Tuesday defended its Internet censorship laws in a report [materials] detailing Internet usage within the country. China reported that nearly 30 percent of its population currently has access to the Internet and that they expect that number to increase to nearly 50 percent in the next five years. The report recognizes the usefulness of Internet access in gaining and disseminating information and in aiding citizens in "lawful, government participation." Additionally, the report stresses that Chinese citizens have a protected right to freedom of speech on the Internet, but that the government does not recognize that freedom as an unlimited freedom. Limitations that are placed on Internet speech include laws and regulations that prohibit the "spread of information that contains content subverting state power, undermining national unity, or infringing upon national honour and interests." The report also outlines Internet security protections and cites the need for international cooperation, stating:

Within Chinese territory the Internet is under the jurisdiction of Chinese sovereignty. The Internet sovereignty of China should be respected and protected. … National situations and cultural traditions differ among countries, and so concern about Internet security also differs. Concerns about Internet security of different countries should be fully respected. We should seek common ground and reserve differences, promote development through exchanges, and jointly protect international Internet security.

China announced new regulations [JURIST report] restricting Internet use in February, which caused many Internet users to register their websites overseas in order to avoid government regulation.

In March, Google [corporate website] officially stopped censoring search results [JURIST report] to Chinese users after a legal impasse was reached between the Internet giant and the Chinese government. Google initially threatened to discontinue operations in China [JURIST report] in January due to the country's overarching Internet censorship. Google's action was in response to a cyber attack on its Gmail service in December, which targeted the e-mail accounts of human rights activists in China and drew the ire of rights groups around the world. Google indicated that it would work with the Chinese government to find a way to allow an, "unfiltered search engine within the law as well," but also noted that if an agreement cannot be reached, it would close its offices there and shut down its website. China responded [JURIST report] by reiterating its commitment to open Internet, but stressed that international Internet companies must follow Chinese law.