Internet Censorship in China – 1984 Come to Life

March 23, 2011 at 9:16 pm Leave a comment

If you have ever read the book 1984, you probably realize how important personal freedom is.  In the book, George Orwell depicts a dystopian future society in which an absurdly powerful government monitors every aspect of the lives of its citizens, imposing overbearing control.

The communist government in China is currently doing everything it can to stop protests and political uprisings.  If you thought that freedom to search and send anything on the internet, or say anything on the phone was a given right to everyone, you are mistaken.  China has a string of servers dedicated to filtering Google searches for words that might be linked to political unrest, such as “freedom.”  In fact, lately, the servers have been dropping phone calls when they detect an unfavorable word.

Just recently, a Beijing entrepreneur, discussing restaurant choices with his fiancée over their cellphones, quoted Queen Gertrude’s response to Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” The second time he said the word “protest,” her phone cut off.  He spoke English, but another caller, repeating the same phrase on Monday in Chinese over a different phone, was also cut off in midsentence.

A host of evidence over the past several weeks shows that Chinese authorities are more determined than ever to police cellphone calls, electronic messages, e-mail and access to the Internet in order to smother any hint of antigovernment sentiment.

About a month ago, some Gmail users in China found their service disconnected when they tried to send or save messages. This was around the time when anonymous Internet posts urged people unhappy with the government to gather every Sunday.

Google’s engineers determined that the technical difficulties were at the hand of the Chinese government.  An article on the website for People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official publication, recently called Google a tool of the United States government.  Like Facebook and Twitter, the article said, Google has “played a role in manufacturing social disorder” and sought to involve itself in other nations’ politics.

You may be asking yourself, just how far will censorship in China go?  According to, Bill Bishop, an internet expert in Beijing, “there’s a lot more they can do, but they’ve been holding back.”

Reading something like this really makes someone wonder that at any instant, personal freedom of speech could be taken away.

I hope all of you found this blog post to be enlightening.  I certainly did!  Here is the original article I read.  Don’t forget to go take the blackboard quiz!

Have a good week 🙂  ~Megan

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