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China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, April 24 2014

The new BBC series Sherlock is a popular subject for dan mei (Wikipedia)

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.

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Why Crowdfunding Won't Change China Anytime Soon

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 8 2014

Promotional image for My 17 Gay Friends, a short film crowdfunded in China

Three years after the launch of China's first crowdfunding website in July 2011, the idea is “gradually catching on,” as the Wall Street Journal reported in January. The World Bank estimates the market potential in China by 2025 to be US$46 - $50 billion dollars. Modern China scholar Julian Gewirtz argues in a Tea Leaf Nation post that the crowdfunding trend might even usher in political change in China. However, as crowdfunding is subject to the same constraints as other forms of online media, that is an extremely optimistic assertion.

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China Gives Streaming TV the Red Carpet Censorship Treatment

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, March 20 2014

Is House of Cards' reign coming to an end in China?

China keeps foreign media in the country on a tight, short leash, capping the number of foreign films at 34 a year. They also have an ever-expanding system of censoring the web known as the Great Firewall. So it surprised many when it turned out that House of Cards is wildly popular in China, and that it had “survived” the country's notorious censors. Well, that time might be coming to an end. The state media watchdog will now be following the “censor first, broadcast later” policy for streaming content that feature films have endured for decades.

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Japanese Chat Service Builds In Censorship for China-Based Users

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, November 21 2013

Screenshot of the Citizen Lab's list of censored phrases

Some users of the popular chat application LINE get a custom version of the program, complete with built-in keyword censorship. If someone sets their country location to China during installation, the app downloads a list of censored words from LINE's host server and then any messages containing censored words is blocked. The findings are part of a report by The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, the first of a series on Asian chat and instant messaging applications.

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Coding for a Greener, Safer China

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, July 26 2013

Coding for Green Life Hackathoners (image: Sunny Gao)

Concerned techies in China have developed a number of "green" applications to help their city breathe, eat and access public services more easily. Read More


An App to Shield Tibetans' Texts From Prying Eyes

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, July 24 2013

Monks protesting with Tibetan flags (image: SFTHQ)

There may finally be a tool Tibetans can more safely use – at less risk of censorship or surveillance – to communicate with each other inside and outside of Tibet. Since YakChat launched in March, the new messenging app has taken Tibetan activists “by storm,” explained Nathan Freitas of the Guardian Project, an organization that creates secure, open-source communications software. Around 5,000 Tibetans have since adopted this app, though most of them are outside of Tibet. Read More

China Says Video Game Allowing Players to Shoot U.S. Troops Instills Patriotic Values

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, April 5 2013

Screenshot from CCTV report about Glorious Mission video game.

The video game Glorious Mission, designed for and by the Chinese military, was initially meant as a training aid for soldiers. Released to the public a few months ago, it has already been downloaded over a million times.The BBC reports that the video game is China's newest propagandatool, and cites army sources who agree Glorious Mission was made "available to the wider order to instill patriotic values, the core values of the military." Read More


Chinese Social Media App Poses a Threat to Activists and Authorities Alike

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, December 13 2012

The most popular new social media app in China is raising suspicions over its geolocational abilities. WeChat, a phone app that combines the functions of Skype, Twitter, and Facebook with the power to locate nearby users, has ousted traditional texting as a contact method for many young people in China. But as the Guardian reported last week, a technology that tracks its users’ movements can be dangerous: Read More


No Internet For You! In North Korea, A Small Elite Accesses Limited Online Content

BY Julia Wetherell | Tuesday, December 11 2012

Screengrab of Naenara, North Korea's state-sanctioned Internet portal

Though North Korea remains as isolated as ever from the technological community (as TechPresident wrote last year,it was a full 48 hours after the death of Kim Jong-Il before the news broke on Twitter), the Internet is a temptation both for the country’s citizens and for the government of Kim Jong-Un, as the BBC reports. Read More


Newly Discovered Malware Used to Hack Dalai Lama Website

BY Lisa Goldman | Wednesday, December 5 2012

A website associated with the Dalai Lama's YouTube account has been hacked using Dockster, "...a rare piece of Mac malware which can secretly log users' keystrokes," reports Neal Ungerleider for Fast Company. Read More