By Tenzin Monlam
DHARAMSHALA, November 18: The Chinese government, in order to curb flow of information from inside Tibet, has implemented a ‘vague’ and ‘localized version’ of Internet censorship rules in Tibet, says the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. According to an official document received by the Tibetan Center, the rules took effect on October 8.
The notice in Tibetan issued by the Machu County Public Security Bureau (PSB) in Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province, lists nine directives for the ‘online chat group administrators’ and ‘owners of public online accounts’ on how to conduct self-censorship.
“The censorship rules issued in Machu County add to a host of other restrictive regulations passed by the Chinese authorities this year to implement the Cyber Security Law that took effect in June,” TCHRD said in its report.
As per the specification of the notice provided by the Machu County’s Internet regulator, the online chat administrators have been ordered to be responsible for ‘strictly regulating’ their respective chat group members and the information shared in the group.
The administrators and owners of public online accounts of any online platform such as online chat groups, social media, and instant messaging apps are made responsible for strictly preventing the spread of ‘illegal’ contents on the Internet.
The nine directives listed in the notice include, among others, not sharing information containing political contents; not sharing internal documents containing confidential information; not sharing information related to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan before it is released on government websites.
The Tibetan rights group also expressed concern over the ‘local version’ of two new regulations - Management Regulations on Online Public Accounts and Management Regulations on Internet Groups - released on September 7 by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).
“Tibetan activists and government critics are routinely convicted of ‘leaking state secrets’ or ‘endangering state security’ for allegedly sharing information that contains ‘illegal political contents’. Both charges are vaguely defined in Chinese Law allowing the law enforcement agencies to criminalize human rights and peaceful dissent,” said the Dharamshala-based human rights group.
According to Freedom House’s annual report ‘Freedom on the net’, China has been listed as the ‘worst abuser of Internet freedom’ for the third year in succession. Tibet in the reported year has been listed as the one of the areas where most mobile shutdowns happen in the world.