Wednesday, July 30, 2008

China & IOC lied - Internet access for media to be censored for Olympics

Chris in Paris, Congratulations to the IOC for allowing China to censor journalists from around the globe. In fact, Reuters says the International Olympic Committee actually cut the censorship deal with China. Wasn't this a key issue when the decision was made to give Beijing the Olympics? Beijing lied when they said they would provide uncensored internet access for foreign journalists and the IOC pretended as though China might live up to its promise. And how ridiculous is China, to think that they can even block real news stories from getting in or out?

On Tuesday, [foreign media in Beijing] were unable to access the website of Amnesty International as it released a report criticising China's human rights record.
Besides telling lies about this in order to win the Olympics, a block on foreign media is not likely to be effective and only draw even more attention to the issue.
Chinese officials say foreign journalists covering the Beijing Olympic Games will not have completely uncensored access to the internet.
A top spokesman said sites relating to spiritual movement Falun Gong would be blocked. Another said other unspecified sites would also be unavailable.
China enforces tough internet controls, but said when it bid for the Games that journalists would be free to report.
Journalists have complained they cannot access some news or human rights sites.
A senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) member confirmed that while journalists would have free range to cover the Games, the IOC was aware some sites would be blocked.
Richard Blair, Sen. Sam Brownback is hopping mad that the Chinese government is requiring all international hotels in China to install internet monitoring software prior to the Olympics. Apparently, a few of the hotel chains have made a fuss.
Listen, it’s not like the Chinese government (unlike the American government) hasn’t been right up front about controlling use of the internet / world wide web within the borders of their country. In fact, back in 2005, China forced Yahoo! to give up email records on dissidents, and Google was forced to redesign their search engine software to make it easier for the Chinese government to spy and conduct oversight:
…However, some [U.S.] lawmakers at the hearing thought this argument dubious at best. Choices to operate in China have also led to Yahoo’s cooperation with Chinese authorities to arrest a dissident and Google’ redesign of its search engine to reflect Chinese censorship.
“U.S. technology companies today are engaged in a sickening cooperation decapitating the movements of Chinese dissidents,” human rights subcommittee chair Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said at the hearing. Smith will soon introduce the Global Online Freedom Act of 2006 that aims to “protect United States businesses from coercion to participate in repression by authoritarian foreign governments.” …
So, Sam Brownback is now carrying the anti-spy water for the hotel chains operating in China. As I said at the outset of this post, that’s quite laughable, coming from one of the strongest proponents of FISA, warrentless wiretapping, and internet surveillance. Glenn Greenwald has the details, but this stands out:
“These hotels are justifiably outraged by this order, which puts them in the awkward position of having to craft pop-up messages explaining to their customers that their Web history, communications, searches and key strokes are being spied on by the Chinese government,” Brownback said at a news conference…
At least you get a pop-up message in China. In the U.S., DHS just pops up at your door.

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