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A Chinese citizen is suing China Unicom to arise the problem of who is responsible for blocking western internet platforms. The fact that several overseas internet services - such as Google and Facebook - aren’t accessible by people situated in China is something of common knowledge; what’s unclear though, it’s who is the competent authority and what specific law this censorship is legitimated by. These are the reasons why Wang Long, an ordinary Chinese citizen, has decided to stimulate a reaction by taking legal action against his Internet Service Provider claiming his right to demand answer for discrepancies in the services.

Aware his victory in court is unlikely, Wang’s intention was simply to point out a bug in the legal framework surrounding internet freedom. The legitimacy of Chinese government’s power to prevent access to certain websites is built on three main purposes, commonly shared with many other foreign legislations: fight pornography, financial crimes and protect national security. Even if this last one can be extensively interpreted, it hardly explains how services such as GMail, Translate or Scholar can fall under the provision.

Identifying the competent authority to address queries and requests would mean finally remove uncertainties from legal and technical issues related to censorship in China.

In spite of this, an official party spokesman has recently reported that these kind of services are unavailable not because of Chinese censorship policy, but due to overseas companies refusal to comply with Chinese laws. If they wish to operate in the country they are more than welcomed, provided they adapt to sensible content restriction rules.


The gLAWcal Team

LIBEAC project

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

(Source: Global Voices)

This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.