China to Censor: Text Messages?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Given China's history of censorship and the country's well-publicized recent battle with Google, one is rarely surprised by new reports of censorship in China. Providers of mobile phones in China recently announced plans to monitor the texts of citizens for "illegal or unhealthy content," immediately stopping a person's cellphone service if such content is detected.

The phone companies will pass any potential violations on to the police for review and prosecution. If a customer is relieved of the charges, his or her phone service will begin again.

This crusade is officially part of an effort to keep pornography from the country. Over 5,000 people were arrested in China last year on internet pornography charges.

Phone services haven't been explicit on what constitutes a punishable offense, but services will monitor a specific list of words provided by officials. Every communication using these phone services will be monitored, including conversations between a husband and wife.

China's going farther than expected for this one. With no idea about what words and phrases to avoid, people are sure to get their phones disconnected often. A majority of the 'criminals' investigated by the police will be innocent. Anyone who is actually talking about something illegal will use codes or slang. This is an absolutely useless endeavor and will cause much more harm than good... but isn't that always the way?


Tonight Show Controversy

Conan O'Brien is close to signing a forty million dollar deal to leave the "Tonight Show" according to As part of the deal O'brien would be barred from bad mouthing his former bosses at NBC and would be allowed to take another television spot within one year.

According to the controversey started when NBC tried to push back the time of Conans show from 11:35 to after midnight. Of course this would upset Conan who took over the show from Jay Leno. In my opinion Jay Leno is better than Conan. I know people who agree with me and people who disagree. What needs to be understood here is the "Tonight Show" is more tradition and an established institution than any other show on television. NBC should have chosen their host and stuck with them or stayed with Leno. Almost everyone over the age of fifteen knows of the "Tonight Show." In order to stick with tradition something has to be done to appease all parties.


Freedom to Link

NewsNow has launched a campaign to support the freedom to link in light of a recent dispute with News Corporation. The news aggregating site based in the UK gathers its articles by creating links from their site to different online news sources. The reason that News Corporation has a problem with this is that NewsNow charges users for a special subscription on its site, providing tailored feeds built to your specifications or e-mail alerts for breaking news. Essentially, NewsNow is making a profit on articles that News Corporation has created.

But is linking like this stealing? The internet is widely viewed as public domain, and Struan Bartlett, founder of NewsNow, believes that "linking is a public amenity." What's public is meant to be seen and commented upon. Linking is just how we are able to get to it.

Jeff Jarvis argues that "By trying to cut off links, News Corp is also endangering journalism." He believes that linking is a benefit to journalists because it creates ways for readers to find their stories. It is also a way for writers to ethically source the material that has been used.

Whether or not News Corp has a right to deny someone the ability to link to their sites in public domain has yet to be determined. It seems that they are trying hard to prevent other sites from using their material, and trying to control what is not controllable.


News Sources Show Bias as O’Brien Battles NBC

Msn recently ran an article detailing NBC's decision to remove Conan O'Brien from the late night time slot he has occupied for the last several months. O'Brien replaced comedian Jay Leno as the host of NBC's "Tonight Show," which has aired during an 11:35 p.m. time slot for 17 years. Leno was rescheduled to appear during prime time.

Since then, NBC decided to give Leno has time slot back, offering O'Brien the opportunity to do his show at an even later hour: 12:05 a.m. O'Brien refused and according to the article, will no longer be working for NBC.

Ironically, since news of this dissension reached the public, O'Brien's ratings have improved exponentially.

O'Brien and David Letterman have both used their shows to publicly take jabs at Leno and NBC. In contrast, NBC executives have spoken out praising Leno's character and villifying O'Brien's.


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