China und das wilde, wilde Web

Die New York Times fühlt sich beim Blick auf das chinesische Internet anscheinend ein wenig an den guten alten wilden Westen erinnert. Meinungsfreiheit gebe es zwar nicht, dafür aber Sex, Drugs & Rock'n Roll:
By some estimates, there are more than 30,000 people patrolling the Web in China, helping to form one of the world's far-reaching Internet filtering systems. But while China's huge Internet police force is busy deleting annoying phrases like "free speech" and "human rights" from online bulletin boards, specialists say that Wild West capitalism has moved from the real economy in China to the virtual one. Indeed, the unchecked freedoms that exist on the Web, analysts say, are perhaps unwittingly ushering in an age of startling social change. The Web in China is a thriving marketplace for everyone, including scam artists, snake oil salesmen and hard-core criminals who are only too eager to turn consumers into victims. Chinese entrepreneurs who started out brazenly selling downloadable pirated music and movies from online storefronts have extended their product lines — peddling drugs and sex, stolen cars, firearms and even organs for transplanting. Much of this is happening because Internet use has grown so fast, with 110 million Web surfers in China, second only to the United States. Last year, online revenue — which the government defines more broadly than it is in the United States — was valued at $69 billion, up around 58 percent from the year before, according to a survey by the China Internet Development Research Center. By 2010, Wall Street analysts say China could have the world's leading online commerce, with revenue coming from advertising, e-commerce and subscription fees, as well as illicit services. The authorities have vowed to crack down on illegal Web sites and say that more than 2,000 sex and gambling sites have been shut down in recent years. But new sites are eluding them every day. "It's a wild place," Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project at the graduate journalism school of the University of California, Berkeley, said of China's Web. "Outside of politics, China is as free as anywhere. You can find porn just about anywhere on the Internet." On any of China's leading search engines, enter sensitive political terms like "Tiananmen Square" or "Falun Gong," and the computer is likely to crash or simply offer a list of censored Web sites. But terms like "hot sex" or "illegal drugs" take users to dozens of links to Web sites allowing them to download sex videos, gain entry to online sports gambling dens or even make purchases of heroin. The scams are flourishing.


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