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The Great Firewall - Freedom of Speech on the Internet in China

Svensson, Anna (2007)
Department of Law
Abstract
Freedom of speech is both a fundamental and an important right in the sense that this right is the key to fulfill other human rights. Without being able to seek information, a citizen cannot be aware of what rights he or she has. When a person lacks the ability to have an opinion and speak one's mind, a person cannot actively seek to protect his or her rights. ''The great firewall of China'' refers to the official Chinese censorship of information between the global Internet and the Chinese Internet. Through this firewall, Chinese people can only access websites that their government has approved. China has strict rules on what information an Internet user can access while the Chinese Constitution explicitly protects the right to free... (More)
Freedom of speech is both a fundamental and an important right in the sense that this right is the key to fulfill other human rights. Without being able to seek information, a citizen cannot be aware of what rights he or she has. When a person lacks the ability to have an opinion and speak one's mind, a person cannot actively seek to protect his or her rights. ''The great firewall of China'' refers to the official Chinese censorship of information between the global Internet and the Chinese Internet. Through this firewall, Chinese people can only access websites that their government has approved. China has strict rules on what information an Internet user can access while the Chinese Constitution explicitly protects the right to free speech. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms protect freedom of speech. Furthermore, it is commonly accepted that the right is protected as international customary law. Technology developed by multinational corporations is enabling the Chinese government to censure the Internet. The companies are assisting the Chinese government by complying with its censorship demands, and are facilitating the government's efforts to control the free flow of information. For example, in 2006, the American corporation Google became a participant and not just a victim of the Chinese state's censorship, when it launched a censored version of its search engine for the Chinese market. The search engine censors thousands of keywords and web addresses, which restricts Chinese people's ability to access information. The Internet companies that are acting according to the Chinese government's policy defend their behaviour by arguing that they are only acting in accordance with the local laws in China. The purpose of this thesis is to analyze what international legal obligations China, as a state, has for ensuring freedom of speech on the Internet. In addition, the thesis examines the responsibilities multinational corporations have for not violating freedom of speech when operating in China. First, the thesis provides a background of how Chinese censorship works, and what the multinational corporations are doing in order to comply with the Chinese regulations of the Internet market. Moreover, an explanation of international law relevant to the issue is given in the descriptive part of the thesis. Later, I analyze what international law demands of China, and of the multinational corporations, in order to ensure freedom of speech on the Internet in China. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Svensson, Anna
supervisor
organization
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Folkrätt
language
English
id
1562296
date added to LUP
2010-03-08 15:55:30
date last changed
2010-03-08 15:55:30
@misc{1562296,
  abstract     = {Freedom of speech is both a fundamental and an important right in the sense that this right is the key to fulfill other human rights. Without being able to seek information, a citizen cannot be aware of what rights he or she has. When a person lacks the ability to have an opinion and speak one's mind, a person cannot actively seek to protect his or her rights. ''The great firewall of China'' refers to the official Chinese censorship of information between the global Internet and the Chinese Internet. Through this firewall, Chinese people can only access websites that their government has approved. China has strict rules on what information an Internet user can access while the Chinese Constitution explicitly protects the right to free speech. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms protect freedom of speech. Furthermore, it is commonly accepted that the right is protected as international customary law. Technology developed by multinational corporations is enabling the Chinese government to censure the Internet. The companies are assisting the Chinese government by complying with its censorship demands, and are facilitating the government's efforts to control the free flow of information. For example, in 2006, the American corporation Google became a participant and not just a victim of the Chinese state's censorship, when it launched a censored version of its search engine for the Chinese market. The search engine censors thousands of keywords and web addresses, which restricts Chinese people's ability to access information. The Internet companies that are acting according to the Chinese government's policy defend their behaviour by arguing that they are only acting in accordance with the local laws in China. The purpose of this thesis is to analyze what international legal obligations China, as a state, has for ensuring freedom of speech on the Internet. In addition, the thesis examines the responsibilities multinational corporations have for not violating freedom of speech when operating in China. First, the thesis provides a background of how Chinese censorship works, and what the multinational corporations are doing in order to comply with the Chinese regulations of the Internet market. Moreover, an explanation of international law relevant to the issue is given in the descriptive part of the thesis. Later, I analyze what international law demands of China, and of the multinational corporations, in order to ensure freedom of speech on the Internet in China.},
  author       = {Svensson, Anna},
  keyword      = {Folkrätt},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Great Firewall - Freedom of Speech on the Internet in China},
  year         = {2007},
}