Or maybe Old Moore's Almanac for Britain in the next decade
|31st December 2019
See article from bbc.com
The BBC has posted an interesting review of internet and general control freakery in China. One interesting idea was the use of numbers for hash tag rallying calls as numbers can be pretty hard to censor by text filtering. The BBC explains:
Late last year, the term 996 cropped up on a number of social media microblogs and forums, originally by workers in China's tech industry as a subtle way to vent their frustrations at the excessive amount of work they were
expected to do.
The Chinese censors struggle to censor number sequences, given that they can often be innocuous. Consequently, Weibo users were able to use the term 996 to complain openly that their employer was violating China's
labour laws by making them work some 72 hours a week: from 9am to 9pm, six days a week.
But the phrase has now seen expanded usage beyond the tech industry, especially among China's young, who complained that overtime has become
Japanese politician takes a stand against the pixellation and censorship of porn
|26th December 2019
Thanks to Daniel
article from nicchiban.nichegamer.com
Japanese politician Yamada Taro has proposed changes to Criminal Code 175, so that hentai and pornography would no longer be censored.
Article 175 of Japan's Criminal Code is to prevent the distribution and sale of of indecent material, including
pornography. This leads to a curious situation in which adult material must be partially censored, usually across genitalia. For nearly 10 years, the industry standard was to obscure, blur or pixellate the crown of the penis (the part that funnels
out near the tip,) and clitoris, and instances of physical contact that constitutes sexual intercourse (i.e. insertions of objects into the vagina or the rectum).
The law also results in other oddities, such as the broadcast version of Jojo's
Bizzare Adventure censoring Jotaro Kujo smoking as he is 17 (Japan's minimum smoking age is 18). The censorship was done via a heavy shadow across the lower-half of his face.
While this debate might be taking place in Japan, the outcome of
this debate may impact the quality of entertainment you enjoy in your own home nation. After all, many agree that Japan is at the vanguard for many forms of visual entertainment. Even those that dislike Japanese erotic fantasy will agree, Japan boasts
tremendous diversity in the realm of fiction that is unavailable else where.
In 2019, one Japanese politician would take many by surprise. Yamada Taro of the Liberal Democratic Party (the same party as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe)
successfully gained a seat in the Japanese House of Councillors with 540,000 votes. He heavily appealed to the otaku voters being an obsessive fan, usually of anime and manga.
Since Yamada's proposal is still in it's infancy, there has not been
any outspoken support or opposition at this time. The changes would be strictly to pornography and hentai, while content involving real under-aged individuals and those who do not give their consent, will of course, remain illegal to distribute in Japan.
Two particular groups would likely be the biggest opposition to the law being changed. One of these was the Nihon Ethics of Video Association. Acting as the Japanese equivalent of the ESRB or PEGI, they act as rating organization for videos in
Japan. On proposes that they would not be in favor of the ban, as they would lose their job. The other likely opposition group is the Japanese Parent/Teacher Association (PTA).
Gay kiss cut from the Rise of SkyWalker in the Middle East
|24th December 2019
22nd December 2019. See article from
Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is a 2019 USA action Sci-Fi fantasy by JJ Abrams.
Starring Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver and Billie Lourd.
The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga.
Hollywood's campaign to promote diversity resulted in a gay kiss being included in the latest
Star Wars movie, The Rise of Skywalker. This is the franchise's first same-sex kiss.
But the importance of this galactic first hasn't struck a chord in the Middle East. According to several people speaking to The Hollywood Reporter who have seen
the latest Star Wars at cinemas in Dubai, the scene featuring the kiss had been removed from their screening. Given that the United Arab Emirates is largely more tolerant than its neighbours when it comes to film censorship and Dubai's status as the
regional hub for the entertainment industry, it is thought that this cut will be replicated across the Middle East.
The Hollywood Reporter also notes that the Chinese films censors left the kiss intact for Chinese audiences.
Update: Singapore too
24th December 2019. See article from bbc.com
Disney has cut a brief scene of two women kissing in the Singaporean version of its latest Star Wars film. The scene was described by reviewers as a brief flash of two women kissing... among a crowd of characters.
But the version released in Singapore
omits the scene. Singapore's film censors told the BBC that Disney cut the scene so it didn't get a higher age rating. The applicant has omitted a brief scene which under the film classification guidelines would require a higher rating, said a
spokesperson from IMDA.
Without the kiss, the film is rated PG13 in Singapore.
New Zealand to legislates for internet TV to use New Zealand censor ratings and rules
|23rd December 2019
See article from classificationoffice.govt.nz
New Zealand's chief censor David Shanks has commented on a legislative amendment requiring the likes of Netflix to use New Zealand censorship ratings and rules for content targeted at New Zealand viewers.
Bringing our media regulation framework up to date will take some significant work, and earlier this year Minister Tracey Martin announced a broad media regulation review, with work to commence on this substantively next year. That is
a good idea, but in the interim we thought that there was a relatively simple change that could make things better, clearer and more consistent for NZ consumers right now. That is to require Commercial Video on Demand (CVoD) services including
subscription services like Lightbox and Netflix and rental services like iTunes to use New Zealand classifications, and apply a New Zealand framework to new content.
This is the thinking behind the Films, Videos, and Publications
Classification (Commercial Video on-Demand) Amendment Bill introduced to the House on the 17th of December. Where a film or series has been classified in NZ, digital providers will need to use that classification. And where they are making a new film or
series available to Kiwis, these providers will need to apply a NZ framework, and provide age ratings and information that is consistent with what we expect.
|20th December 2019
'Most of the dramas featured on prime time television are now Red Dramas that praise the people's liberation army'
article from theepochtimes.com
New Zealand's film censor has been surveying what is popular on Pornhub
|16th December 2019
9th December 2019 See article from classificationoffice.govt.nz
See press release from classificationoffice.govt.nz
report [pdf] from classificationoffice.govt.nz
The New Zealand Classification Office has been surveying popular porn on Pornhub and writes:
New research shows that while the most popular porn in New Zealand is not highly aggressive there is a concerning trend of people
The Classification Office has released its analysis of the 200 most popular videos that New Zealanders watch on mainstream porn site Pornhub. Last year the Office released the first stage of its Youth and Porn
research and further research is underway which will be released next year.
This separate analysis was done to break down and analyse the content of porn that is commonly watched in New Zealand.
Censor David Shanks said:
While porn is supposed to be restricted to adults, our research shows a significant number of young people watch it too, and this analysis of popular videos on Pornhub helps us understand what
they are seeing.
As regulators in this space we've been analysing explicit content for over 20 years. The porn industry's move online means that there is more porn available to a wider audience than ever before. Some of this
content can be extreme and illegal.
Our break down of content indicates that New Zealanders generally prefer content that is not so extreme. Of the top 200 clips analysed, just 10% showed physical aggression, 3% showed verbal
aggression and 9% contained derogatory language.
It was positive to find that extreme content does not seem to be what most New Zealanders are seeking out. However we were concerned to find some non-consensual behaviour in 35% of
the popular clips assessed.
We also found that 46% of the most viewed videos featured 'step porn' narratives involving sexual activity between blended family members. In these scenarios, initial refusal or reluctance by one
partner would often be shown as being overcome by persistence and pressure by the other.
Affectionate behaviour was spotted in around a quarter of the clips studied, and only 3% involved the use of condoms.
This analysis provides an important companion study for our initial NZ Youth and Porn research. That research established that porn is a fact of life for many young New Zealanders, and that they may view it for a variety of reasons, including to learn
about sex. Many of the young people we surveyed expressed concern about how porn might impact sexual beliefs, expectations and behaviour.
It is clear from this latest work that porn provides a very poor model for young people who
are developing their understanding of consent and of what a healthy sexual relationship looks like. They need a real counterpoint to the fictional and confusing stories that porn offers. Now it is more important than ever to give our young people the
information and education they need in this space, David Shanks said.
The reality is young people are seeing porn -- it's time to start talking with them about it.
Update: Let's not get too prudish
16th December 2019. See article from newshub.co.nz by Jenesa Jeram
First, let's look at the content of porn: is it that bad? Three studies are cited relating to the aggression that is apparently rampant in porn.
The first , and purportedly most cited study, found that 88.2
percent of porn scenes contained physical aggression. The numbers seem big. But it depends on what you consider aggression.
Spanking (35.7 percent), gagging (27.7 percent), and open-hand slapping (14.9 percent) were the most
frequently observed physically aggressive acts.
To be honest, I'm not clutching my pearls at this revelation. It's certainly not nice and lovely in a kittens-and-ponies kind of way. But I guess, considering all the handwringing, I
was expecting something a lot uglier and a lot more violent (although even the thought of gagging makes me want to sympathy gag).
Perhaps then, the problem isn't the aggressive acts per se, but the treatment of women. But as it
turns out, in most cases, (95 percent of the time) women reacted to aggression with pleasure or neutrality.
...Read the full
article from newshub.co.nz
It now a requirement to provide a face scan when buying a new sim
See article from imore.com
The Chinese government has taken yet another step in strengthening its ability to track and scrutinize its citizens' activities by mandating new SIM card buyers to register their faces with the government.
The new rules, which China will
mandate cellphone companies with the responsibility of having customers scan their faces before buying a new SIM card or registering a new cellphone number at offline stores. The country's authorities already require users to link their national IDs to
their cellphone numbers, but these latest regulations would incorporate the use of biometric authentication and artificial intelligence into its overarching surveillance regime.
No doubt the authorities have got some really nasty ideas lined up
for the control of citizens using facial recognition technology. And no doubt they will selling these to teh est very shortly.
Malaysian tourist minister rails at tattoo exhibition worrying abut the effects on visitors
|3rd December 2019
See article from france24.com
Malaysian officials have criticised a tattoo exhibition held in the country likening it to porn that is unsuitable for a Muslim-majority country
The offending images at the Tattoo Malaysia Expo in Kuala Lumpur were inevitably of full bodied tattoos
shown off by people posing in underwear.
The tourism minister had initially supported the three-day show which has already ended but changed his mind afterwards claiming that it did not reflect Malaysia's polite and decent culture.
ordered a probe and warned the government could take legal action against the organisers.
DC Comics gets in trouble for a Batman image claimed to reference Hong Kong troubles, and again for removing it
|1st December 2019
See article from qz.com
DC Comics got itself in political hot water over a drawing that's been linked in mainland China to Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests.
The image in question, which DC removed from its social media accounts, was created by artist Rafael Grampa for
writer Frank Miller's graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child , to be released on Dec. 11. The drawing shows a youthful superhero holding a Molotov cocktail. In the background are the words: The future is young.
Chinese social media users took offense at what they said was a clear reference to pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. This perceived support for the youth-led movement that has rocked the Chinese territory sparked a backlash against DC that the
company tried to quell by taking down the image without explanation or apology.
But the controversy was just getting started. The self-censorship only angered fans around the world, who questioned DC bowing to pressure and urged it to go in the
opposite direction. The disputed image's removal inspired people to circulate it widely, and to criticise the decision to withdraw it.
All politicians lie, governments are made up of politicians, why would anyone believe their claims about what is, and what isn't, fake news anyway?
|1st December 2019
See article from reclaimthenet.org
Singapore's new law designed to counter fake news is now fully in effect. It allows the country's government to issue corrections of information that it deems to be false, and fine those publishing it up to an equivalent of $730,000 and send them to
prison for up to ten years.
Singapore is now attempting to apply the new legislation globally, by ordering Facebook to correct a post made by a user in Australia. This is one of the points the critics of the legislation have been making ever since it
was passed in May -- that it will likely be used to stifle freedom of expression not only in Singapore but also beyond its borders.
The law, officially the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, is described as one of the toughest
in the world -- while the order dispatched to Facebook marks the first time Singapore has attempted to directly influence a social media platform and content hosted on it.
The supposed 'fake news' in the first invocation of the law involved
improvable claims in argument between the government and a government Singaporean critic now based in Australia. It seems unlikely that Facebook can substantiate or arbitrate the actual truth of the claims.
In this case, Facebook has added a
correction notice to the disputed post saying:
Facebook is legally required to tell you that the Singapore government says this post has false information.
China cancels art exhibition by Hung Liu
|21st November 2019
See article from hyperallergic.com
A month ahead of its opening in Beijing, an exhibition by Chinese-American artist Hung Liu was canceled after local authorities objected to some of the works and refused to issue import permits for others.
According to Liu, Beijing cultural
authorities have voiced concerns about nine of her works, including the painting Twelve Hairpins of Jinling (2011), which shows 12 schoolgirls in uniforms wearing gas masks, and a 1993 self-portrait based on a photo of her a young, rifle-toting
fighter at the end of China's Cultural Revolution. Another painting that was objected to by authorities is Abacus (1988), which loosely translates to Seven-Up Eight-Down, a phrase in Chinese that describes agitation.
Liu reluctantly agreed
to withdraw the nine works from the exhibition, focusing on more recent works and works that had been exhibited in China before. But that did was not enough to ease the concerns of the authorities in Beijing.
The cancellation comes amidst growing
trade tensions between the United States and China and signifies increased censorship of political art in China.
After being censored by YouTube Chinese mainlanders take to Pornhub to distribute videos criticising the Hong Kong protesters
|15th November 2019
See article from nypost.com
The US internet giants have got a little too effective at censoring user uploaded videos sonow the world is looking for less well policed alternatives.
An Chinese mainlanders found a temporary alternative in Pornhub. A few Chinese nationals created a
channel called the Chinese Communist Youth League. They then posted videos boosting the agenda of authorities in Beijing and criticising the Hong Kong protesters.
One shocking video calls rioters cockroaches, a term Hong Kong police have used, and
shows a man being set on fire after arguing with protesters. Nearly a dozen of the videos appeared in total which had about 9,000 views and gained 32 subscribers.
A rep for PornHub told The NY Post on Thursday the firm has taken down the videos in
|12th November 2019
South Korea court rules explicit anime and manga drawings are images of child sex abuse
See article from telegraph.co.uk
Thailand opens its new internet control center
|2nd November 2019
See also antifakenewscenter.com
Thailand's Digital Economy and Society (DES) Minister, Buddhipongse Punnakanta, has launched the government's 'anti-fake-news' centre at the head office of the country's state telecoms company TOT.
Buddhipongse said that any challenged infomation
will be verified within two hours by the centre. The verification process is said to include both human and artificial intelligence. He added:
Some 200 organisations in our network will each send two people to serve as
contact persons within 24 hours who have to receive cases and help verify whether their obtained information is true or false.
The centre will look at the top 10-20 most-shared news items or messages on social media platforms,
including Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter.
People are also allowed to send information they find suspicious to the centre so it can be checked and verified with relevant organisations. The verified information will be shared
through online channels.
Any information deemed as infringement will be forwarded to the Royal Thai Police for investigation.
The center will employ about 30 checkers who will target news about government
policies and content that broadly affects peace and order, good morals, and national security.
Hong Kong government turns to internet censorship to restrict protests
|2nd November 2019
See article from theepochtimes.com
Hong Kong has been dealt its first court ruling that censors the internet after a court ordered the banning of certain online messages related to protests.
On 31st October Hong Kong's High Court issued an interim injunction banning people from
disseminating, circulating, publishing, or re-publishing on any internet-based platform or medium any information that promotes, encourages, or incites the use or threat of violence.
Two platforms were named in government press release announcing
the order. A local Reddit-like forum LIHKG and the messaging app Telegram.
The government of pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam stated that these platforms and mediums have been abused to incite protesters to participate in unlawful activities, such as
damaging targeted properties.
The injunction was issued at the request of Hong Kong's Secretary of Justice and the ban will be effective until 16th November when a full court judgement will be announced.
New Zealand film censor bans bad taste shoot 'em up set in Christchurch mosque murders
|31st October 2019
See article from classificationoffice.govt.nz
New Zealand's Chief Censor David Shanks has announced two bans.
The first was a document said to have been shared by the terrorist who killed two people in Halle, Germany earlier this month. It has been classified as objectionable under the Films,
Videos & Publications Classification Act 1993. A live stream of the event had already been banned.
Shanks also banned is a low priced video game that puts the player in the role of a killer called Brenton Torrent with the game play consisting
solely of the murder of defenceless people. He said:
The Shitposter from 2 Genderz Productions, that celebrates the livestream of the March 15 terrorist attacks in Christchurch, is classified objectionable.
The creators of this game set out to produce and sell a game designed to place the player in the role of a white supremacist terrorist killer. In this game, anyone who isn't a white heterosexual male is a target for simply existing.
This game is cheaply and crudely made, with little or no appeal in terms of the challenge of its gameplay. Everything about this game, from the name of the shooter character down to its purchase price ($14.88) makes it clear that
this is a product created for and marketed to white supremacists who are interested in supporting and celebrating white extremist attacks.
The games producers will try to dress their work up as satire
but this game is no joke.
It crosses the line.
China bans Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Was it for an irreverent depiction of Bruce Lee?
|20th October 2019
See article from hollywoodreporter.com
Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood is a 2019 USA / UK comedy drama by Quentin Tarantino.
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie.
Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) make their
way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore. The ninth film from the writer-director features a large ensemble cast and multiple storylines in a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood's golden age.
A few days ago the
Chinese cinema release of Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood was cancelled with just a week's notice. The film censors banned the film but did not given any explanation of the reason why.
Tarantino, who is known to be opposed to
any kind of tinkering with his films and has final-cut rights included in his contract, has no plans to bring his film back to the editing bay, especially given that China has offered no explanation for what is objectionable in the film that revolves
around the events leading up to the infamous Manson Family murders of 1969.
The decision to halt the release is speculated to be about Tarantino's portrayal of the late martial arts hero Bruce Lee, who was of Chinese descent. It seems that Bruce
Lee's daughter, Shannon Lee, made a direct appeal to China's National Film Administration, asking that it demand changes to her father's portrayal. Friends and family of the Hollywood action star have criticized Tarantino for his portrayal of Lee, saying
it doesn't resemble the real-life man and is instead a caricature.
Another source suggested that China may finally be balking at the film's violence, which is graphic at times but far less than a typical Tarantino film. However there are reports
that the film had actually been approved and that the something must have happened to change the censor's mind.
US/Chinese kid's cartoon banned and cut in Asian countries over propaganda reinforcing China's grab of the South China Sea
|20th October 2019
18th October 2019. See article from npr.org
Abominable is a 2019 China / USA children's cartoon comedy by Jill Culton and Todd Wilderman (co-director).
Starring Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai and Tenzing Norgay Trainor.
Three teenagers must help a Yeti return to his family while avoiding a wealthy man and a zoologist who want it for their own needs.
The new animated children's movie Abominable, a co-production
between the American studio DreamWorks and the Chinese company Pearl Studio, seems innocent enough. A Chinese girl finds a yeti, a mythical creature also known as the Abominable Snowman.
But in Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia, the
abomination in the movie is not the yeti but an image of a map of the South China Sea. And on that map, there's a U-shaped dotted line that encompasses almost the entire South China Sea. It's known as the Nine-Dash Line.
agreements, China does not have exclusive rights to the entire South China Sea. But Beijing has just simply ignored that and called it an illegitimate ruling. Now at every opportunity China presents its claims as fact.
This claim is not OK with
other countries in the region:
- The image of the map caused Vietnam to remove the movie from theaters, according to a Vietnamese official.
- The Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. proposed to cut out the said contentious scene and even suggested a
universal boycott of all @Dreamworks productions from here on. Other politicians have called for a ban but so far this has not happened
- Malaysia's film censor has ordered the China map to be cut
Update: Banned in the Philippines
19th October 2019. See article from
The animated film has been removed from Philippine theaters since Tuesday, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board said in a statement.
MTRCB understands the situation brought about by the
movie 'Abominable.' We wish to assure the public that the said movie is already off the Philippine market effective October 15, 2019, said MTRCB Chair Rachel Arenas.
Update: Withdrawn in Malaysia
19th October 2019.
See article from ca.reuters.com
Abominable will not be released in Malaysia after its producers Universal declined to implement
censor cuts to a scene showing China's nine-dash line claim to the South China Sea.
South Park gets totally taken down in China over a Winnie the Pooh joke
|20th October 2019
8th October 2019. See article from
South Park's latest episode Band in China mocked Hollywood for shaping its content to please the Chinese government.
Beijing responded by deleting all clips, episodes and discussions of the Comedy Central show from all Chinese streaming
services, social media and even fan pages.
On Monday afternoon, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone issued a statement with a faux apology about the ban:
Like the NBA , we welcome the Chinese censors into our
homes and into our hearts, the statement reads. We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn't look like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10! Long live the great Communist Party of China. May the
autumn's sorghum harvest be bountiful. We good now China?
The Band in CHina episode featured a pair of storylines about China. One involves Randy getting caught attempting to sell weed in China and getting sent to a work camp similar
to those Beijing has been using in Xinjiang Province to hold up to a million Chinese Muslims. While he's at the work camp, Randy runs into an imprisoned Winnie the Pooh.
A second plot follows Stan, Jimmy, Kenny and Butters forming a metal band,
which becomes popular and attracts the attention of a manager who wants to make a film about them. But then the script keeps changing so that the film can safely be distributed in China.
Update: The economics of censorship
19th October 2019. See article from businessinsider.com
The Chinese censorship of South Park seems that the producers will take a big hit in income as Apple pulls out of bidding for South Park streaming rights as it seeks to appease China where Apple has significant sales.
Viacom, the owner of Comedy
Central's long-running animated series South Park, is looking to sell the streaming rights to the series. Sources familiar with the bidding told Bloomberg that Apple probably won't extend a bid, due to the show's recent ban in China after the second
episode in season 23, Band in China included a humorous attack on Chinese censorship. China reportedly ceased all streaming and discussion of the show on its state-controlled internet.
Apple relies on Chinese manufacturing for many of its
products, and China makes up a great deal of its consumer base. Thus, sources told Bloomberg that it was unlikely that Apple would want to host South Park on Apple TV+.
The articles also notes that Apple appears to be crafting a family-friendly
content selection on its streaming service, with relatively non-controversial content in general.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern's Christchurch Call leads to a doubling of funding for the censors
New Zealand's government is doubling the funding for its film censors. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government is doubling the funding for its Office of Film & Literature Classification so it can crack down on terrorist content alongside
child exploitation images.
The package is the main domestic component of Ardern's more globally-focused Christchurch Call. The Call is a set of pledges and practices she is promoting following the Christchurch terror attack of March 15.
$17m funding boost will go towards the Chief Censor and the Censorship Compliance Unit and will see about 17 new censors employed.
The announcement came with a bit of a barb though as it was noted that it took two days for the chief censor to rule
that the livestream of the Christchurch mosque attack was objectionable, something the officials said could be sped up with new funding for his office.
Stuff.co.nz commented that the prime minister has invested serious time and political capital
into her Christchurch Call program and noted that it met its first real test last week after another racist attack was livestreamed from the German city of Halle. That video was deemed objectionable by the censor and the shared protocol created by the
Christchurch Call was put into action. Presumably this time round it took less than two days to decide that it is should be banned.
China's Global Reach: Surveillance and Censorship Beyond the Great Firewall. By Danny O'Brien
|11th October 2019
See CC article from eff.org
See China and the NBA: what price free speech? from spiked-online.com
Those outside the People's Republic of China (PRC) are accustomed to thinking of the Internet censorship practices of the Chinese state as primarily domestic, enacted through the so-called "Great Firewall"--a system of surveillance and
blocking technology that prevents Chinese citizens from viewing websites outside the country. The Chinese government's justification for that firewall is based on the concept of " Internet sovereignty. " The PRC has long declared that
"within Chinese territory, the internet is under the jurisdiction of Chinese sovereignty.''
Hong Kong, as part of the "one country, two systems" agreement, has largely lived outside that firewall: foreign services
like Twitter, Google, and Facebook are available there, and local ISPs have made clear that they will oppose direct state censorship of its open Internet.
But the ongoing Hong Kong protests, and mainland China's pervasive attempts
to disrupt and discredit the movement globally, have highlighted that China is not above trying to extend its reach beyond the Great Firewall, and beyond its own borders. In attempting to silence protests that lie outside the Firewall, in full view of
the rest of the world, China is showing its hand, and revealing the tools it can use to silence dissent or criticism worldwide.
Some of those tools--such as pressure on private entities, including American corporations NBA and
Blizzard--have caught U.S. headlines and outraged customers and employees of those companies. Others have been more technical, and less obvious to the Western observers.
The "Great Cannon" takes aim at sites outside
potentially slowing these websites down for other users, or overloading them entirely.
The Great Cannon's debut in 2015 took down Github , where Chinese users were hosting anti-censorship software and mirrors of otherwise-banned
news outlets like the New York Times. Following widespread international backlash , this attack was halted.
Last month, the Great Cannon was activated once again , aiming this time at Hong Kong protestors. It briefly took down
LIHKG , a Hong Kong social media platform central to organizing this summer's protests.
Targeting the global Chinese community through malware
Pervasive online surveillance is a fact of life within
the Chinese mainland. But if the communities the Chinese government wants to surveill aren't at home, it is increasingly willing to invest in expensive zero-days to watch them abroad, or otherwise hold their families at home hostage.
Last month, security researchers uncovered several expensive and involved mobile malware campaigns targeting the Uyghur and Tibetan diasporas . One constituted a broad "watering hole" attack using several zero-days to target
visitors of Uyghur-language websites .
As we've noted previously , this represents a sea-change in how zero-days are being used; while China continues to target specific high-profile individuals in spear-phishing campaigns , they
are now unafraid to cast a much wider net, in order to place their surveillance software on entire ethnic and political groups outside China's border.
Censoring Chinese Apps Abroad
At home, China
doesn't need to use zero-days to install its own code on individuals' personal devices. Chinese messaging and browser app makers are required to include government filtering on their client, too. That means that when you use an app created by a mainland
Chinese company, it likely contains code intended to scan and block prohibited websites or language.
Until now, China has been largely content to keep the activation of this device-side censorship concentrated within its borders.
The keyword filtering embedded in WeChat only occurs for users with a mainland Chinese phone number. Chinese-language versions of domestic browsers censor and surveill significantly more than the English-language versions. But as Hong Kong and domestic
human rights abuses draw international interest, the temptation to enforce Chinese policy abroad has grown.
TikTok is one of the largest and fastest-growing global social media platforms spun out of Beijing. It heavily moderates
its content, and supposedly has localized censors for different jurisdictions . But following a government crackdown on "short video" platforms at the beginning of this year , news outlets began reporting on the lack of Hong Kong-related
content on the platform . TikTok's leaked general moderation guidelines expressly forbid any content criticizing the Chinese government, like content related to the Chinese persecution of ethnic minorities, or about Tiananmen Square.
Internet users outside the United States may recognise the dynamic of a foreign service exporting its domestic decision-making abroad. For many years, America's social media companies have been accused of exporting U.S. culture and
policy to the rest of the world: Facebook imposes worldwide censorship of nudity and sexual language , even in countries that are more culturally permissive on these topics than the U.S. Most services obey DMCA takedown procedures of allegedly
copyright-infringing content, even in countries that have had alternative resolution laws. The influence that the United States has on its domestic tech industries has led to an outsized influence on those companies' international user base.
That said, U.S. companies have, as with developers in most countries, resisted the inclusion of state-mandated filters or government-imposed code within their own applications. In China, domestic and foreign companies have been
explicitly mandated to comply with Chinese censorship under the national Cybersecurity Law passed in 2017 , which provides aggressive yet vague guidelines for content moderation. China imposing its rules on global Chinese tech companies differs from the
United States' influence on the global Internet in more than just degree.
Money Talks: But Critics Can't
This brings us to the most visible arm of the China's new worldwide censorship toolkit:
economic pressure on global companies. The Chinese domestic market is increasingly important to companies like Blizzard and the National Basketball Association (NBA). This means that China can use threats of boycotts or the denial of access to Chinese
markets to silence these companies when they, or people affiliated with them, express support for the Hong Kong protestors.
Already, people are fighting back against the imposition of Chinese censorship on global companies.
Blizzard employees staged a walk-out in protest, NBA fans continue to voice their support for the demonstrations in Hong Kong, and fans are rallying to boycott the two companies. But multi-national companies who can control their users' speech can expect
to see more pressure from China as its economic clout grows.
Is China setting the Standard for Global Enforcement of Local Law?
Parochial "Internet sovereignty' has proven insufficient to
China's needs: Domestic policy objectives now require it to control the Internet outside and inside its borders.
To be clear, China's government is not alone in this: rather than forcefully opposing and protesting their actions,
other states--including the United States and the European Union-- have been too busy making their own justifications for the extra-territorial exercise of their own surveillance and censorship capabilities.
China now projects its
Internet power abroad through the pervasive and unabashed use of malware and state-supported DDoS attacks; mandated client-side filtering and surveillance; economic sanctions to limit cross-border free speech; and pressure on private entities to act as a
global cultural police.
Unless lawmakers, corporations, and individual users are as brave in standing up to authoritarian acts as the people of Hong Kong, we can expect to see these tactics adopted by every state, against every
user of the Internet.
New internet censorship law comes into force in Singapore
|4th October 2019
See article from edition.cnn.com
Singapore's sweeping internet censorship law, claimed to be targeting 'fake news' came into force this week. Under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill , it is now illegal to spread statements deemed false under
circumstances in which that information is deemed prejudicial to Singapore's security, public safety, public tranquility, or to the friendly relations of Singapore with other countries, among numerous other topics.
Government ministers can decide
whether to order something deemed fake news to be taken down, or for a correction to be put up alongside it. They can also order technology companies such as Facebook and Google to block accounts or sites spreading the information that the government
The act also provides for prosecutions of individuals, who can face fines of up to 50,000 SGD (over $36,000), and, or, up to five years in prison.
China adds new surveillance requirements for internet users to submit to a facial scan before internet connection
|3rd October 2019
See article from
China has stepped up its internet censorship by demanding its citizens pass a facial-recognition test to be able to use web services.
People who want to have the internet installed at home or on their phones must have their faces scanned by the
Chinese authority to prove their identities, according to a new regulation.
The rule, which will take effect on December 1, is said to be part of the social credit system which rates the Chinese citizens based on their daily behaviour.
Chinese citizens are also banned from re-selling their SIM cards by the regulation to prevent unregistered users from making calls from mobile phones.
China has been building the world's largest facial-recognition surveillance system.The Big-Brother-style scheme is powered by hundreds of millions of AI street cameras aiming to identify any of the country's citizens within three seconds.