Zieht Peking die Zensurschrauben beim Internet mehr und mehr an? Dies befürchtet zumindest die New York Times. Schanghai soll demnach als Vorbild für eine Ausweispflicht zur Netznutzung dienen: Internet cafe users in China have long been subject to an extraordinary range of controls. They include cameras placed discreetly throughout the establishments to monitor and identify users and Web masters, and Internet cafe managers who keep an eye on user activity, whether electronically or by patrolling the premises. The average Internet user, meanwhile, neither sees nor, in many cases, suspects the activities of a force widely estimated to number as many as 30,000 Internet police officers. Experts on China's Internet say the officers are constantly engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with equally determined Web surfers, blocking access to sites that the government considers politically offensive, monitoring users who visit other politically sensitive sites and killing off discussion threads on Internet bulletin boards. The Chinese government has also established a Web site where people are able to report fellow Web users for suspicious or provocative behavior. Web surfers who try to visit sites being blocked by the government receive messages announcing a page is no longer accessible, or their computer screen may simply go blank, or they may be redirected to unrelated sites. Similarly, people who participate in Web-based discussions on certain subjects may be warned that in order to log on to a discussion group, real names must be used, along with genuine e-mail addresses and even telephone numbers. As its first line of defense against what in another era China's Communist leadership might have called ideological pollution, Beijing controls the Internet by insisting that all Web traffic pass through government-controlled servers. Now, coming on top of these measures, which are all deployed at the national level, China's provincial governments are getting into the act, introducing regulations of their own that critics say severely impinge on privacy and freedom of speech. In recent weeks, Shanghai, China's largest and most Internet-connected city, has quietly introduced a series of controls, arguably the country's most far-reaching yet, and critics fear, a model eventually to be used nationwide. Described by city officials as a measure intended to combat pornography and to bar entry for minors to Internet bars, the Shanghai regulations require customers to use swipe cards that would allow administrators or others to record their national identity numbers and track their Internet use.
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