The Ethics of Internet Filtering in China Essay

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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
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Although China is not the only government that filters its website, countries such as Saudi Arabia also block web sites as well. However, unlike the Saudi government which were upfront and honest with its people by explicitly stating on users browser with explanation of why the web site were blocked (and even gives users an option to petition for certain web site to be unblocked), the Chinese government simply in secret renders the blocked site as not found so one cannot know for sure if a site were intentionally blocked or were simply out of order.

It is estimated that China employs around 30,000 people to monitor and block web sites it deems inappropriate. Additionally, Amnesty Internationals have revealed that China currently has 33 people called “prisoners of conscience” who have been detained for using the Internet to circulate or download information” the government deemed inappropriate. Of the more than 1 billion people, there are estimated to be a total of 45 to 50 million internet users in China. One can only imagine how quickly the prison count and possible future execution count will increase in the near future as the number of people going on line continues to grow rapidly and as the government escalates in severity its crackdown tactics on the people.5

Introduction

Based upon the aforementioned acts of government intervention of
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