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Chinese Government Bans Search Terms For Occupy Wall Street

Interesting bit of news out of China Digital Times, which has launched a crowdsourced investigation into exactly how and where the Chinese government is cutting off freedom of access to information, and cutting off the abilities of Chinese people to use social media to connect around causes that they don't like.

In this case, direct evidence has been surfaced that shows the Chinese Government has banned certain search terms from Sina Weibo, a hybrid of Facebook and Twitter and one of the most popular social sites in China. From the CDT story:

A long list of banned keywords on Sina Weibo's search function has been uncovered and tested by the CDT team yesterday. All the listed phrases stick to one simple rule: a combination of "occupy" (占领) and a place nameprovincial capitals, economically developed regions, and few symbolic local areas.

As the Occupy Wall Street movement gains steam, this sort of censorship may become harder to maintain. Of course, if you are on the opposite side of an issue from both Goldman Sachs and the Chinese Government, that probably puts you in good company and on the right side of history.

Along the same theme, I came across a similar story on, on how the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee is threatening to supervise the world's biggest online community more closely, promote what they deem to be "constructive" websites and punish the spread of what they deem to be "harmful information".

The trigger for this increased scrutiny? The deadly train crash this summer, which was blamed on corruption and cut corners in the government appropriations system, as well as a "rush to modernization" driven by the current Party leadership:

"Members of the party's Politburo visited web companies after a deadly train crash in July. Web users criticized the government's handling of the crash and spread commentary and photos of the accident at odds with the official line."

Whatever you might think about the aims and methods of either political parties or political dissenters here, we shouldn't take our First Amendment rights of free speech and peaceable assembly, or our ability to access information the government does not agree with, for granted.

TAGS: Innovation
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