As in 1957, 1966 and 1989, Chinese intellectuals are feeling more or less the same fear as one does before an approaching mountain storm. The scariest [fear] of all is not being silenced or sent to prison; it is the sense of powerlessness and uncertainty about what comes next… It’s as if you are walking into a minefield blindfolded.
Hao Qun, as quoted in The Guardian. China Tries to Rein in Microbloggers.
The News, via The Guardian:
China has launched a new drive to tame its boisterous microblogging culture by closing influential accounts belonging to writers and intellectuals who have used them to highlight social injustice.
The strict censorship of mainstream media in China has made social media an essential forum for public debate, but authorities have shown increasing determination to control it. Previous campaigns have warned the public against spreading rumours – a theme that has recurred in this crackdown – and ordered users to register with their real names.
Now attention has turned to the country’s opinion formers. A recent commentary in the state-run Global Times newspaper warned that “Big Vs” – meaning verified accounts with millions of followers – had become “relay stations for online rumours” and accused them of “harming the dignity of the law”.
Somewhat Related: The South China Morning Post reports that the central government has ordered universities to stop teaching seven subjects, among them civil rights, press freedom and the communist party’s past mistakes.
Information is an existential threat to these regimes.
James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert, to the Wall Street Journal. Chinese Hackers Hit U.S. Media.
Yesterday we noted that the hackers in China have infiltrated the New York Times’ computer systems.
Today, the Wall Street Journal reports that it — along with Reuters and Bloomberg among others — has also been hacked:
Chinese hackers for years have targeted major U.S. media companies with hacking that has penetrated inside newsgathering systems, several people familiar with the response to the cyberattacks said. Tapping reporters’ computers could allow Beijing to identify sources on articles and information about pending stories. Chinese authorities in the past have penalized Chinese nationals who have passed information to foreign reporters.
Journal sources on occasion have become hard to reach after information identifying them was included in emails. However, Western reporters in China long have assumed that authorities are monitoring their communications and act accordingly in sensitive cases…
…Among the targets were a handful of journalists in the Beijing bureau, including Jeremy Page, who wrote articles about the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in a scandal that helped bring down Chinese politician Bo Xilai, people familiar with the matter said. Beijing Bureau Chief Andrew Browne also was a target, they said.
For its part, a spokesperson for the Chinese government rejects the allegation that it is behind the attacks.
UPDATE: Add the Washington Post to the list.
In recent months, a team of researchers part of Canada’s Citizen Lab have been conducting network scans of public servers in countries on almost every continent. Today, they released their findings—which appear to show that networking technology made by Blue Coat, a Silicon Valley-based company, is being used in a host of countries with questionable human rights records.
The equipment in question can serve a legitimate purpose—like filtering out spam or malware. But in the hands of an authoritarian regime it can easily be turned into a tool for monitoring users or blocking content. Citizen Lab says it found Blue Coat filtering technology capable of censorship operating in countries including Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. It also found Blue Coat technology that can be used for surveillance and tracking of Web users in Afghanistan, Bahrain, China, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, and Venezuela.
Ryan Gallagher, Slate. Report: Silicon Valley Internet Surveillance Gear Used by Authoritarian Regimes.