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Threat to Chinese blogs

Reporters Without Borders has issued a press release today voicing alarm at “the Chinese government's announced intention to close down all China-based websites and blogs that are not officially registered.” The following paragraph is cause for concern:

A China-based blogger told Reporters Without Borders on condition of anonymity that the Shanghai police recently rendered his website inaccessible because it had not been registered. He then phoned the MII [Ministry of Information Industry] to ask what he had to do in order to register, and was told that in his case it was “not worth bothering” because “there was no chance of an independent blog getting permission to publish.”

Meanwhile, the Russian Interfax news agency reports China is using a system called Night Crawler “to block access to websites that have not been registered with authorities.”

We hope to have some updates with first-hand information here at Global Voices.

Andrea at T-Salon is also on top of latest developments.
Other news reports include:

..and if you haven't read it yet, you must read Steve Cherry's “The Net Effect: As China's Internet Gets a Much-Needed Makeover, Will the New Network Promote Freedom or Curtail It?”

Also keep an eye on China Digital Times for updates and links.

UPDATES:
(4:58pm EST) Nart Villeneuve of CitizenLab has an excellent analysis of what “night crawler” likely can and cannot do, based on the descriptions of it.

Andrea Leung of T-Salon emails to say: “FYI. Beijing's Public Security Bureau has just lauched a new web-registration drive on May 31 targetting Beijing-based sites and site owners. The campaign aims to prevent and clean out computer viruses on websites.” She points to this Chinese article about it on Sohu.com.

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