While the US is caught in a rancorous debate over allowing the government to define just what was and wasn't meant by the Second amendment, and how best to limit it and give the government even more powers, China is more focused on its version of the First. Because on Wednesday we reported that in its attempt to make the Internet "healthier, more cultured and safer" and to curb what Chinese regulators dub "rumors and vulgarity" it would pass a law making internet anonymity impossible. Sure enough, said proposal has now been enacted into law, which just happens to also ensure that the First amendment is never an issue China has to worry about. Per Reuters: "China unveiled tighter Internet controls on Friday, legalizing the deletion of posts or pages which are deemed to contain "illegal" information and requiring service providers to hand over such information to the authorities for punishment. The rules signal that the new leadership headed by Communist Party chief Xi Jinping will continue muzzling the often scathing, raucous online chatter in a country where the Internet offers a rare opportunity for debate." So much for reform. And so much for a democratic definition of what constitutes "illegal" information. But fear not: like in China, once the various US amendments start seeing encroaching government "redefinition" ultimately they it will be the First's turn. Alas, by then it will be too late: any complaints will by then be deemed "illegal" too.
More from Reuters:
Chinese authorities and Internet companies such as Sina Corp have long since closely monitored and censored what people say online, but the government has now put measures such as deleting posts into law.
"Service providers are required to instantly stop the transmission of illegal information once it is spotted and take relevant measures, including removing the information and saving records, before reporting to supervisory authorities," the rules state.
The restrictions follow a series of corruption scandals amongst lower-level officials exposed by Internet users, something the government has said it is trying to encourage.
Li Fei, deputy head of parliament's legislative affairs committee, said the new rules did not mean people needed to worry about being unable to report corruption online. But he added a warning too.
"When people exercise their rights, including the right to use the Internet, they must do so in accordance with the law and constitution, and not harm the legal rights of the state, society ... or other citizens," he told a news conference.
Remember that line: it will be used in the US some day too. But one must be prepared to make sacrifices to perpetuate some of the most authoritarian, centrally-planned regimes in the world.
Obviously the locals were unimpressed:
The new rules were quickly condemned by some Weibo users.
"So now they are getting Weibo to help in keeping records and reporting it to authorities. Is this the freedom of expression we are promised in the constitution?" complained one user.
"We should resolutely oppose such a covert means to interfere with Internet freedom," wrote another.
But the government had a ready response for that too:
The government says tighter monitoring of the Internet is needed to prevent people making malicious and anonymous accusations online, disseminating pornography and spreading panic with unfounded rumors, pointing out that many other countries already have such rules.
Despite periodic calls for political reform, the party has shown no sign of loosening its grip on power and brooks no dissent to its authority.
Remember when everyone looked at the Chinese Politburo congress in November and expected so much new reform, and change? Good times.