China Maintains 'Law-Based' Control Over Internet

BEIJING -- Three months after Google shifted its search engine service to Hong Kong over a censorship spat with China, the government in a white paper released Tuesday maintained telecommunication operators and service providers have the responsibility to establish "technical measures" to filter information the censors deem "illegal."

Chinese laws and regulations "clearly prohibit" the spread of content that subverts state power, undermines national interests and incites ethnic hatred and secession, it said in the 28-page English-language document.

The Chinese version has 31 pages.

"According to these regulations, basic telecommunication business operators and Internet information service providers shall establish Internet security management systems and utilize technical measures to prevent the transmission of all types of illegal information," it said.

Besides a sophisticated censorship system that filters out online content considered a threat to social or political stability, China also requires Internet service providers to carry out self-censorship of content carried on their web portals.

This was one reason that led to Google redirecting its mainland search service in March.

When it first threatened to withdraw from China in January, the U.S. Internet giant also cited sophisticated cyber attacks it had detected originating from China.

China has denied involvement in such attacks and in the white paper it again said it was opposed to "all forms of computer hacking," adding it was one of the "biggest victims" of such attacks.

Citing incomplete statistics, it said more than a million Internet Protocol addresses were controlled from outside China last year and 42,000 websites had been attacked by hackers.

Referring to the invention of the Internet as a "crystallization of human wisdom," the paper said the technology has played an "irreplaceable role" in accelerating economic development in a country where the number of Internet users hit 384 million at the end of 2009.

"To build, utilize and administer the Internet well is an issue that concerns national economic prosperity and development, state security and social harmony, state sovereignty and dignity, and the basic interests of the people," it said.

China, the document concluded, will continue to maintain a "law-based" administration of the Internet while keeping up with "new situations and new problems" that are constantly emerging and considering "national conditions."

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