When the Chinese government becomes the great 'fact checker' of the Internet

Imagine that in Spain the government had a ministry with several offices on the Internet that decided the news that are Fake News and those that do not. Imagi

When the Chinese government becomes the great 'fact checker' of the Internet

Imagine that in Spain the government had a ministry with several offices on the Internet that decided the news that are Fake News and those that do not. Imagine that I could also establish the guidelines for the content that is published on Twitter, Facebook or WhatsApp, based on a series of ideological considerations about whether that comment, that information or that photograph, is appropriate.

We go with another assumption. Imagine that the Government tried to control all the content on the network, but it can not because it circulates through private channels in cyberspace, led by large independent and foreign technological companies.

Then, it is decided to close all the doors by which global online traffic enters, and create a large internal software in which only obedient Internet service providers could operate. These would allow the authorities to analyze the information, messages and trends that circulate, as well as manipulate them or censor them at their craving through algorithms and engineers disguised as police officers who check cyberspace.

At the end of the 1990s, the PhD in Computer Science Fang Binxing developed in China a large firewall that allowed the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CPC) to cut access to the IP addresses that he considered "dangerous or malicious". That firewalls and proxy servers program on the gateways was becoming more restrictive over the years.

In 2000, Chinese leaders issued an order that required Internet service providers to ensure that the information sent in its services complied with. A couple of years later, the government drafted the "public commitment of self-discipline for the China Internet industry", which established four principles: patriotic observance of law, equity, honesty and honesty. There were more than 100 foreign companies that signed commitment.

The arrival of Xi Jinping to power in 2012 was a more ferrous control of cyberspace. "Internet has become the main battlefield for the fight of public opinion," Xi said in a speech filtered shortly after occupying the throne of Beijing. The objective was to make sure that the content on the network would serve the interests of the party. In September 2013, the Supreme Court of the People, Judicial Body controlled by the CCP, ruled that the "perpetrators of online publications that deliberately disseminate rumors or lies, and that were seen by more than 5,000 people or shared more than 500 times, They could face defamation charges and up to three years in prison. "

Two years later, the Ministry of Public Safety, the strongest in China, established the Network Security Office, also called the "Internet Police", responsible for censoring the "illegal and harmful" content. In a statement, the ministry ensured that the presence of these agents was to "create a harmonious, cultured, clear and brilliant Internet", and that they would work to "detect and prevent cybercrime, bad words and curses online."

In Chinese browsers are manuals on how to manufacture a Napalm pump and how to buy chemical precursors to manufacture fentanyl. But it is impossible to connect to a porn page. To enter Facebook and Twitter, or watch videos on YouTube, you need a VPN, a software that connects the computer or mobile server with other country's networks.

China probably has the most sophisticated online control system in the world. Over the years he has been insulating his cyberspace even more. Now, the Chinese government is in full crusade regulating, putting hand in almost all sectors of the country, especially in technology companies.

A recent report from the official Xinhua agency said that there are new guidelines that seek to improve "Internet civilization", with more regulation to "improve ethics and behavior".

Since the administration of Chinese cyberspace (CAC, body in charge of Internet control in the Asian country, also dependent on the Ministry of Public Security) launched a campaign against false news in September. According to the new regulations: online censors will pursue the "unlicensed citizen journalists who misinterpret economic policies and predict pessimism in financial markets". Also to those who "write false news and diffuse rumors." Meanwhile, the "propaganda directed on the achievements of the party" will be strengthened.

The CAC document disaggregated other points of its new campaign: "Address problems that include the misinterpretation of national financial policies and macroeconomic data; publish negative information to threaten, intimidate or blackmail relevant stakeholders."

The new guidelines will provide the government a framework to still reinforce its control over Internet giants, from Tencent to Byteday, and on the large amount of content and data they generate. It is expected that the joint campaign of 10 regulatory agencies will reach social networking platforms such as Douyin, the name for which you know Tiktok in China.

The CAC also explained a few weeks ago that it was reinforcing the supervision of the algorithms used by technological companies so that "act fairly and do not use algorithms models that attract users to spend cash in a way that could alter the public order". The guidelines include a proposal to allow users to disable algorithm recommendation services.

The new reforms have reached Wechat, the Chinese whatsapp, where the CAC communicated that it was going to start taking action against the appointment groups considered a "bad influence". At the end of September, Wechat eliminated dozens of LGBT accounts administered by university students, saying that some had broken the rules.

Updated Date: 16 October 2021, 09:03

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