China orders video sites to censor vulgarity, violence, porn

Summary:China is asking online video websites to self-censor content. More specifically, they have to pre-screen anything that is considered vulgar, violent, or pornographic. If the new rules are not followed, site owners will be held accountable.

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China's communist government has upped its censorship rules by yet another notch. This time, video websites are being told they must pre-screen all content that is deemed inappropriate. The State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) revealed new censorship rules this week in a published series of answers to reporters' questions.

The first query and response says it all. A journalist asked why the new network drama, micro film, network audio, and video program guidelines were necessary. The official response acknowledged the cultural importance of this content, but condemned programs that include "vulgar content" and "poor style" in the form of violence, pornography, and swearing. As such, after apparently being urged by Internet citizens, Chinese officials decided to protect "young people's physical and mental health in accordance with the law" by preventing "a bad program to occupy time and space of the excellent programs."

Site administrators are thus expected to self-censor such material. They will apparently be given guidance on what is okay and what isn't. It remains to be seen how SARFT will enforce the new regulations, especially when it comes to user-generated content.

This decision mainly affects Chinese portals, since most Western video sites, including YouTube, are already blocked in the world's most populous country. Many site owners will find it difficult to follow the new instructions since they suddenly have to find the resources to pre-screen everything that is uploaded. When it comes to doing business on the Internet in China, however, this is nothing new.

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Topics: Censorship, China, Government, Government : Asia, Security

About

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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