Essay on The Ethics of Internet Filtering in China

Essay on The Ethics of Internet Filtering in China

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The Ethics of Internet Filtering in China

The internet boom that began in the mid-1990s was popular because of the enormous possibility of endless free flowing information. It was built upon the engineering principle of “end-to-end neutrality, an engineering rule of thumb calling for smarts at edge of the network rather than in the middle”1 said Jonathan Zittrain, an associate professor at Harvard. However, web filtering by governments such as China has put an end to the idea of complete freedom on the Internet. For those who are familiar with the authoritarian one-party political system in China, one would hardly be surprised by the Chinese government’s move to censor the internet.

Since the inception of the internet, the Chinese Communist government had passed numerous laws to censor and control the flow of information through the internet to people in China. Beginning in 1994, the State Council issued the rules and regulations that gave the Ministry of Public Security (MIPS) overall responsibility for “policing” the Internet.2 Since 1994, more and stricter laws were continued to be handed down by the government that included possible death sentence for those who pass so called “state secret” (open to interpretation by the government) to others through the internet. 3 The Chinese government not only passed laws to intimidate web surfers from using the web in ways the government deems inappropriate, it also actively filters the web for contents that it doesn’t want its people to see. A Harvard research team of Jonathan Zittrain and Benjamine Edelman did an empirical analysis of internet filtering in China found in their study of 200,000 web sites they tested which works elsewhere in the world such as the United St...

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... Computer Ethics, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1997.

4. Stroehlein, Andrew. “The Shrinking Frontier”. Online Journal Review, USC Annenberg. 11 November, 2002. <>

5. Amnesty International. State Control of the Internet in China. 26 November, 2002.

6. Edelman, Benjamin, When the Net goes dark and silent. South China Post, 2 October, 2002. <>

7. Zittrain, Jonathan and Edelman, Benjamin, Empirical Analysis of Internet Filtering in China, Berkman Center for Internet & Society 20 March, 2003. <>

8. Zittrain, Jonathan. Can the Internet survive filtering? CNet 23 July, 2002.

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