In the United States, every child, teenager and adult uses Wikipedia, YouTube and Facebook, among numerous other sites, regularly. The internet is open and uncensored for the most part, other than parental controls. In China, most, if not all of those types of sites are or have been blocked. As in, you could not go to them, unless you found some way around the web filters and firewalls the Chinese government runs in their country. While China defends their practice of internet censorship, based on “protecting” the people, heavy internet censorship is a block to free speech and impedes economic and social development in the 21st century.
China says it has its reasons for censoring its internet. Wang Chen, minister for the State Council Information Office, defends China’s position, stating, “There is an ever-increasing need to ‘guide public opinion’ on the Chinese Internet.”(McCabe) Government reasoning is the prevalence of porn, fraud, and “rumor-mongering.” He also states that this is something that the Chinese people want.
China has already taken steps towards controlling the internet. In July of 2009 China cut internet and cell phone service in much of Xinjiang province in response to civil unrest that the government says was organized over the internet. Paul Mozur (a reporter for the International Herald Tribune) states, “To pull the plug on the internet for 20 million of its citizens is not simply bad policy, it’s a violation of human rights.”
To further that end, China has recently introduced new regulations. China has introduced new regulations that force anyone who wants to host a website must meet in person with government officials and provide personal identification. Reporters Without Borders, a free speech advocating group from Paris, states “These new regulations represent a very disturbing step backwards for the Chinese internet... The aim is to tighten political control and get Internet users to censor themselves by bringing them face to face with their censors or their agents.”(Anonymous)
Reporters without Boarders further talked of why these regulations present a new block for free speech. “What Netizen will dare to criticize the regime after meeting the person who could put them behind bars for one wrong word?”(Anonymous) Reporters Without Borders is further stating that someone who might talk about something the government might find questionable will not do it at all if that person is met by someone who could put them in prison.
On the other hand, the US does not actively regulate the internet, relying on the public to regulate content on the internet, with little government intervention. The internet in the US is relatively open, whereas in China, information on the internet is suppressed based on what the Chinese government deems appropriate or inappropriate. Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, has stated, “Countries that heavily censor the ‘Net are creating a new ‘Information Curtain’ to rival the old...