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Internet regulations can protect human rights: experts [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2013-9-13 21:18:05 |Display all floors
Human rights experts from China and abroad on Thursday called for a sound environment for sustainable human rights development, saying the Internet is a double-edged sword in the process.

"The Internet is extremely important, as people from across the world can be in touch with each other and learn from each other, but the Internet can also be a danger for human rights," said Tom Zwart, director of the Netherlands School of Human Rights Research.

Zwart made the remarks at the sixth Beijing Forum on Human Rights, which opened Thursday and gathered more than 100 officials, foreign diplomats and human rights experts from the United Nations and 33 countries and regions.

"Unjustified rumors spreading over the Internet are continuing to play a role that may damage people's reputations," he added, saying that the Internet should have some regulations, and in fact many countries do have regulations for online activities.

Daniel Joyce, a lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the University of New South Wales, said that creating a sound online environment is a prerequisite and a part of the broader framework for human rights protection.

Experts said that better regulation of the Internet is conducive to human rights protection.

"I think the Internet should have regulations in the same way that speech has regulations," said Kate Westgarth, former director of Chinese Affairs of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, adding that one cannot have complete freedom of speech.

"People spreading defamatory rumors on the Internet should bear the consequences, and people who encourage riots have to be controlled," she said, adding that this kind of control is also the protection of individuals.

Westgarth's thoughts were echoed by He Zhipeng, professor at the School of Law at Jilin University in northeast China's Jilin Province.

"It's very necessary to regulate the Internet, as unlimited free expression, such as spreading rumors to incite terrorism and war, could lead to great social chaos," she said.

With the rapid development of science and technology, experts also called on lawmakers across the world to revise regulations quickly to deal with Internet-related issues and their impact on society.

The experts' ideas came as Chinese public security authorities have launched campaigns to crack down on organized online rumor-spreading, which has led to many arrests.

People who post defamatory comments online in China will face up to three years in prison if their statements are widely reposted, according to a document released Monday by the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

The statement also stipulated that people will face defamation charges if online rumors they post are viewed by more than 5,000 Internet users or retweeted more than 500 times.

"Regulation on the Internet and Internet freedom are not contradictory when regulation is for better freedom," said Luo Yanhua, professor at the School of International Studies at Peking University, adding that China's current crackdown campaign on rumors is dedicated to protecting the freedom of the majority.

Experts also believe that authorities should strike a balance between cracking down on online rumors and protecting freedom of speech on the Internet.

"A balance has to be found, China is now discussing where to lay this balance, but finding a right balance is a real universal challenge," Zwart said.

Source: Xinhua

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Post time 2013-9-13 22:13:34 |Display all floors
China's tragic crackdown on social media activism

China's new leadership, which has been in office for 10 months, is attacking the nation's social media channels, a depressing -- yet unsurprising -- turn of events.

By   M i n x i n    P e i

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Post time 2013-9-13 22:13:56 |Display all floors
FORTUNE -- Social media in China, which has nearly 600 million users, has long been recognized as a political game-changer. In a country where a one-party regime maintains tight censorship over traditional media, the relative freedom of expression available via Chinese social media, particularly Weibo (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter), has made it a powerful platform for rallying public opinion.

In the past few years, Weibo has been credited for exposing corrupt officials, mobilizing the public against social injustices, and forcing local governments to abandon plans for building hazardous plants in densely populated areas.

The demonstrated potency of China's emerging social media has left many wondering whether the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will continue to tolerate it.

Judging by the recent ferocious crackdown launched by the Chinese government, the answer is clear: The new leadership, which has been in office for 10 months, is implementing a comprehensive plan to eliminate the threat represented by China's social media.

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So far, the campaign has resulted in the arrests of several leading online commentators, each of whom used to have tens of millions of loyal followers on Weibo. On August 21, police in Beijing detained Qin Huohuo and Yang Qiuyu, two well-known Big-Vs (online commentators with verified large followings), on charges of rumormongering and defamation. Two days later, police in Suzhou arrested Zhou Lubao, another online muckraker famous for spotting an expensive watch worn by a smiling official inspecting the site of a horrendous traffic accident a years ago (ironically, Zhou's arrest coincided with the trial of the corrupt official). Zhou was accused of blackmail and rumormongering.

Then, on August 25, the Chinese government dropped a real bombshell. Its police arrested Charles Xue, a wealthy Chinese-American investor with more than 12 million online fans. Xue, an outspoken crusader against corruption and social injustice in China, was allegedly caught with a prostitute in Beijing.

What makes these arrests notable -- and disturbing -- is that they were preceded by emphatic official announcements by China's top leadership that the party would tighten its ideological control and followed by a strong endorsement by China's legal authorities on the validity of prosecuting individuals for online rumormongering and defamation.

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Post time 2013-9-13 22:14:16 |Display all floors
On August 19, before the latest arrests, China's President Xi Jinping gave a speech at the party's conference on propaganda. He pledged that the party would never cede control over ideology. After these arrests were made, China's supreme court and prosecutor's office issued an unusual joint legal opinion that essentially affirms that online rumormongering is a serious crime that local authorities can prosecute.

The party's war on social media reveals many things, most notably the political orientation of the new leadership. Before it assumed office last November, there were hopes that the Communist Party's new leaders would be more tolerant and open. Their actions suggest they are more conservative, insecure, and obsessed with instability than their predecessors.

The crackdown will also doom the new leadership's much-hyped campaign against official corruption. Experience around the world demonstrates that the most effective weapon against corruption is transparency and free speech. Indeed, China's social media has played a critical role in exposing many corrupt officials in recent years. The vigilance of China's online muckrakers has reached such a fearsome level that few Chinese officials now dare to display those expensive watches and other bribes in public. By prosecuting online activists, the party has essentially given corrupt officials a license to persecute whistle-blowers at will.

Apparently, the new leadership's strategic thinking is "killing chickens to warn monkeys." By prosecuting a few leading commentators, the government hopes to silence the majority and tame the country's social media.

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To be sure, the harshness of the offensive against social media could intimidate China's people into submission. But such success is likely to be short-lived. Like all government-sponsored campaigns, the attack on social media will lose momentum at some point because the party will have other fires to put out, thus creating an opportunity for social activists to return to this space.

Fighting a war against social media is like trying to squeeze a balloon: The government may succeed in taming one part, but it simply pushes social activists to other spaces and forces them to be more innovative in fighting Chinese censors.

Eventually, the party will lose this war. But by waging a futile and repressive campaign against transparency, the party will only destroy innocent lives and hopes. That is the real tragedy.

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Post time 2013-9-13 22:46:32 |Display all floors
How much "human rights" are protected you can measure on this forum.

A lot of people here receiving personal insults, which even include their wives and children.

A lot of persons are getting racially insulted in this forum.

The mods promised me to delete all these offensive slanders.

But often it depends on the mods on duty, sometimes the deletion comes very late.

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Post time 2013-9-16 18:45:06 |Display all floors
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Post time 2013-9-16 18:48:21 |Display all floors

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