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Internet Censorship in China 2020s

A new decade of Chinese internet censorship


China leads the way and no doubt the UK will soon follow...

Chinese censors take aim at AirDrop and Bluetooth

Link Here9th June 2023
Full story: Internet Censorship in China 2020s...A new decade of Chinese internet censorship
China wants to restrict the use of local file-sharing services such as AirDrop and Bluetooth in a move that will expand its censorship machine.

The national internet censor has launched a month-long public consultation on the proposals. They want service providers to prevent the spread of unapproved information, among other things.

Bluetooth, AirDrop and such file-sharing services are crucial tools in China, where the  Great Firewall has resulted in one of the mostly tightly-controlled internet regimes. In recent years, anti-government protesters have often turned to AirDrop to organise and share their political demands.

AirDrop is especially popular among activists because it relies on Bluetooth connections between close-range devices, allowing them to share information with strangers without revealing their personal details or going through a centralised network that can be monitored and blocked.

Apple has released a new version of the feature in China, limiting its scope. Now Chinese users of iPhones and other Apple devices are restricted to a 10-minute window when receiving files from people who are not listed as a contact. After 10 minutes, users can only receive files from contacts. Apple did not explain why the update was first introduced in China, but over the years, the tech giant has been criticised for appeasing Beijing.

Proposals unveiled by the Cyberspace Administration of China require users to prevent and resist the production, copying and distribution of undesirable information. Those who do not comply must be reported to the authorities, the draft regulations say. Users must also register with their real name before they can use these file-sharing services, and the service must be turned off by default.



Qualified speech...

Chinese internet censors announce that academic qualifications are required before being able to post about law, finance or medicine

Link Here 26th June 2022
Full story: Internet Censorship in China 2020s...A new decade of Chinese internet censorship
China's internet censors at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the State Administration of Radio and Television have said that qualifications will be required for posting online content that requires a higher professional level such as medicine or law.

Subjects who want to comment online about health or legal matters, for example, will need to have an appropriate qualification and will even be required to submit their qualifications to the streaming platform they use. The platform should then review the qualifications.

From the South China Morning Post:

The 18-point guideline, published by the National Radio and Television Administration and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Wednesday, requires influencers to have relevant qualifications to discuss some topics, such as law, finance, medicine and education, although authorities did not specify the qualifications needed.

The release also contained other rules for live streamers. They are not allowed to post content that distorts or weakens the CCP, like using deep fake technology on state and party leaders. Influencers are also prohibited from showing an extravagant lifestyle, excessive food wastage, sexually provocative or suggestive content, and a lot of luxury goods.



Linked to censorship...

LinkedIn pulls its social networking functionality from China

Link Here 15th October 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in China 2020s...A new decade of Chinese internet censorship
Microsoft has decided to pull social networking facilities from the Chinese version of LinkedIn business networking app. LinkedIn explains in a blog post:

Our decision to launch a localized version of LinkedIn in China in February 2014 was driven by our mission to connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful. We recognized that operating a localized version of LinkedIn in China would mean adherence to requirements of the Chinese government on Internet platforms. While we strongly support freedom of expression, we took this approach in order to create value for our members in China and around the world. We also established a clear set of guidelines to follow should we ever need to re-evaluate our localized version of LinkedIn in China.

This strategy has enabled us to navigate the operation of our localized version of LinkedIn in China over the past seven years to help our members in China find a job, share and stay informed. While we've found success in helping Chinese members find jobs and economic opportunity, we have not found that same level of success in the more social aspects of sharing and staying informed. We're also facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China. Given this, we've made the decision to sunset the current localized version of LinkedIn, which is how people in China access LinkedIn's global social media platform, later this year.

Our new strategy for China is to put our focus on helping China-based professionals find jobs in China and Chinese companies find quality candidates. Later this year, we will launch InJobs, a new, standalone jobs application for China. InJobs will not include a social feed or the ability to share posts or articles. We will also continue to work with Chinese businesses to help them create economic opportunity.

This decision aligns with our commitment to creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. While that has been our vision for nearly two decades now, it feels more important than ever as we all strive to build a global economy that delivers more prosperity and progress to people all over the world.



Offsite Article: Rank censorship...

Link Here 27th August 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in China 2020s...A new decade of Chinese internet censorship
According to regulations published in state media, all online ranking lists of Chinese celebrities must be removed from the internet.

See article from



Licensed to repress...

China bans private individuals, bloggers and citizen journalists from reporting news

Link Here 2nd February 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in China 2020s...A new decade of Chinese internet censorship
China's internet censor has announced a further step in the censorship of online news reporting.

China already requires any organization publishing news or current affairs-related content to hold a license from the country's media censor. Now in the latest step, China will ban private individuals, bloggers and citizen journalists from posting news-related information online without a license.

The move was announced by Zhuang Rongwen, deputy director of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s central propaganda department, during a Jan. 29 online conference. Zhuang told the conference:
We must control the source of online texts, and resolutely close any loopholes.  The standardized management of citizen journalism should be a priority, with increased punishments for offenders and actual teeth for regulators.

China's Cyberspace Administration also included the announcement in an official statement on its website.




China takes control of the Hong Kong internet domain

Link Here17th January 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in China 2020s...A new decade of Chinese internet censorship
The company which approves Internet domains in Hong Kong said it will now reject any sites that could incite illegal acts, a further reduction in Hong Kong freedom after Beijing's imposition of a national security law on the Chinese-ruled city last year.

Holders of .hk domains were advised of the policy change late on Thursday, after Internet service provider Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) said it had blocked access to HKChronicles, a website offering information about anti-government protests.

The Hong Kong Domain Name Registration Company (HKDNR) alerted holders of .hk domains to the new acceptable use policy by its parent, Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation Limited (HKIRC), which goes into effect on Jan. 28. It said it could reject applications for new .hk sites that it believes could incite criminal acts, abuse privacy or provide false or misleading information.



Offsite Article: Hackers leak documents revealing China's coronavirus censorship...

Link Here21st December 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in China 2020s...A new decade of Chinese internet censorship
The documents reveal that China's censorship on information about the outbreak began in early January, before coronavirus had even been decisively identified

See article from



Censor more or else!...

China steps up vague demands for the censorship of social media

Link Here 29th October 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in China 2020s...A new decade of Chinese internet censorship
China's internet censor, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), has announced plans to start a 'rectification' of Chinese mobile internet browsers to address social concerns over the chaos of information being published online.

According to CAC, firms operating mobile browsers have until 9 November to conduct a self examination and rectify problems. These problems include spreading of rumors, the use of sensationalist headlines and publishing content that infringes the core values of socialism.

CAC threatened that after the 'rectification', mobile browsers that still have outstanding problems will be dealt with strictly according to laws and regulations until related businesses are banned.

Huawei said it plans to start a 'self-examination and clean-up' in line with the regulator's requests.



Scratch scratched...

China bans website of coding language for kids

Link Here 8th September 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in China 2020s...A new decade of Chinese internet censorship
According to, a site that monitors internet censorship in China, internet users in China cannot access Scratch's website anymore.

Scratch programming language was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. There are around 60 million kids who use Scratch's interactive programming features to learn how to make games, animated stories, and more. A total of 5.65% or 3 million Scratch users reside in China.

The censorship seems re lated to a Chinese news report about the projects on Scratch on August 21. It claimed that the platform harbored a great deal of humiliating, fake, and libelous content about China, that included placing Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan in a dropdown list of independent countries.

The report says that any service distributing information in China has to comply with the local regulations. It also suggested that Scratch's website and user forum had been banned in the country.

It is unclear whether the ban is temporary or a permanent one. In any case, if the ban is proven permanent then China will probably whip up a home-baked alternative.



These protocols must be effective then...

Chinese national firewall blocks https when used with TLS 1.3 and Encrypted SNI.

Link Here 9th August 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in China 2020s...A new decade of Chinese internet censorship
The Chinese government has deployed an update to its national firewall, to block encrypted HTTPS connections that are being set up using the latest internet standards for encryption.

The ban has been in place since the end of July, according to a joint report published this week by three organizations tracking Chinese censorship -- iYouPort , the University of Maryland , and the Great Firewall Report.

In particular China is now blocking HTTPS+TLS1.3+ESNI.

TLS 1.3 is the latest encryption standard that can be used to implement https. Server Name Indication is used to specify which website is required when several websites are hosted using the same I address. By default it is unencrypted letting ISPs and snoopers know which website is being accessed even when using https. ESNI (Encrypted Server Name Indication) closes this loophole.

Other HTTPS traffic is still allowed through the Great Firewall, if it uses older versions of the same protocols -- such as TLS 1.1 or 1.2, or SNI (Server Name Indication). This rather suggests that these old encryption standards are now compromised.

Per the findings of the joint report, the Chinese government is currently dropping all HTTPS traffic where TLS 1.3 and ESNI are used, and temporarily banning the IP addresses involved in the connection, for small intervals of time that can vary between two and three minutes.

Note also that this news about Chinese censorship probably informs us about snooping capabilities in the UK. Presumably GCHQ and UK ISPs would be similarly blinded by HTTPS+TLS1.3+ESNI, whilst still being able to block and snoop on older standards.



China's watching...

Zoom comes to terms with censoring Chinese users so that it can continue to operate in China

Link Here 12th June 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in China 2020s...A new decade of Chinese internet censorship
Video communications platform Zoom has said it is working on technology that will allow the Chinese government to shut out individual users from meetings if they are talking about something that the Communist party does not like.

The news comes after the US firm was criticised for shutting down a number of meetings organised by dissidents last week to commemorate the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Zoom said in a statement that its mistake was shutting down the meetings entirely, rather than being able to identify which users in attendance were based in mainland China.

It added that it is developing technology over the next several days that will enable us to remove or block at the participant level based on geography -- meaning Zoom will soon be able to remove users at the request of local authorities. The Zoom statement said:

We were notified by the Chinese government about four large, public June 4th commemoration meetings on Zoom that were being publicised on social media... The Chinese government informed us that this activity is illegal in China and demanded that Zoom terminate the meetings and host accounts.



Prohibiting negative content...

China reformulates its internet censorship rules along the lines of the UK's general Online Harms approach

Link Here 4th January 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in China 2020s...A new decade of Chinese internet censorship
Chinese authorities have approved a new set of comprehensive regulations that expand the scope of online censorship, emphasize the prohibition of 'negative' content and make platforms more liable for content violations.

China previously had very detailed censorship laws laying out exactly what was banned and what part of the internet the rule applied to. The new Provisions on the Governance of the Online Information Content Ecosystem rationalises them into more general rules that apply to the entire internet.

The new rules were approved in mid-December and will take effect in March. They apply to everyone and have noted that anyone who posts anything to the internet si to be considered a content producer.

Jeremy Daum, senior fellow at the Yale Law School's Paul Tsai China Center notes that the new laws for what counts as illegal or now 'negative content' are quite vague. The document lays out what constitutes illegal content in sweeping terms. Content that undermines ethnic unity or undermines the nation's policy on religions is forbidden, as is anything that disseminates rumors that disrupt economic or social order or generally harms the nation's honor and interests, among other rules.

The new regulations then go on to dictate that content producers must employ measures to prevent and resist the making, reproduction or publication of negative information. This includes the following:
  • the use of exaggerated titles, gossip,
  • improper comments on natural disasters, major accidents, or other disasters,
  • anything with sexual innuendo or that is readily associated with sex, gore or horror,
  • or things that would push minors towards behaviors that are unsafe or violate social mores.

Platforms are the ones responsible for policing all these restrictions, the rules say, and should establish mechanisms for everything from reviewing content and comments to real-time inspections to the handling of online rumors. They are to have designate a manager for such activities and improve related staff.

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