China recently announced a new law that would force video website owners to carefully monitor their content and censor offensive material before posting.
The new rules were set by the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (also known as SARFT), which is the official broadcast regulation agency of China. The Agency announced announced the news through a press release.
If video websites fail to follow the rules of China’s new pre-screening policy, they could be held legally liable.
According to SARFT, these new rules were made to fight against things like violence and pornography, but others believe it’s something more sinister. One of those people happens to be a spokesperson for a popular Chinese video website Youku Inc (NYSE:YOKU) who told BBC that China wants to block content that’s deemed anti-communist and anti-society. This news may alert Internet freedom and free speech advocates from around the world.
It is no secret that China is notorious for censoring online content. They have what is called the “Great Firewall of China” which reportedly blocks citizens access to many of the world’s most popular websites including YouTube. There is also a large team of censor agents that actively search the Chinese internet for websites with questionable content.
China’s policies and customs are very different from those of the rest of the world. I am not really sure how free speech is valued in that country, but i i’s a shame that people who live in China cannot enjoy the same rights we here in in the United States of America do.
So how do foreign companies handle business matters in China with all the rules and regulations? There is no single way to handle it and many companies have to use several different methods. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) which doesn’t have the best relationship with Chinese officials, has their severs located in Hong Kong, which has more autonomy and allows far more freedom than mainland China.
China’s new video censorship policy will probably add more confusion if the rules are not publicly announced or understood. It appears that this new rule is not exactly clear as to what would be deemed what is appropriate and what is not. I’m hoping they will set some clear guidelines for website owners and publish it on the web. I’m starting to wonder if this move isn’t an attempt to extract money from their citizens in the form of lawsuits and fines. It could also be a sign of mounting social unrest in the country.