Nov 17, 2017

China named world's worst abuser of internet freedom again

Photo: Andy Wong / AP

Freedom's House has released its "Freedom on the Net 2017" report. The China section claims that:

  • China was the world's worst abuser of internet freedom for the third consecutive year;
  • The 2016 cybersecurity law mandates real name registration and storage of PRC user data within China;
  • Censorship on WeChat increased and several were detained for comments on WeChat;
  • New rules constrict the space for online news;
  • A crackdown virtual private network (VPN) tools.

Ren Xianliang, deputy director of the Cyberspace Administration of China criticized the report, per Reuters:

  • "We should not just make the internet fully free, it also needs to be orderly...The United States and Europe also need to deal with these fake news and rumors."

The key point: Chinese officials, some of who have warned for years of "hostile foreign forces" using the internet to subvert China, believe they have found the solution to managing the political risks from the internet while harnessing its economic and technological power. The interference in the U.S. presidential election process by Russia, a "hostile foreign force" to America, only strengthens their resolve.

One interesting fact: The censorship has not hurt wealth creation. Overseas-listed Chinese internet firms have a combined market capitalization of over one trillion dollars, and three of China's richest people are internet moguls.

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