China censorship slows net (Australia), Mar. 7, 2003
Correspondents in Beijing

China’s internet users are suffering sharp slowdowns in access because of the communist government’s heightened efforts to police online content, industry experts say.

Some experts say problems have worsened this week, suggesting Beijing is tightening surveillance during the annual meeting of China’s parliament.

China is trying to reap the internet’s benefits while also controlling what its people read and hear. Authorities have invested both in spreading internet access and in installing technology to scan websites and email for content deemed subversive or obscene.

Beijing has essentially built an online barrier around China, requiring traffic in and out to pass through just eight gateways — a step that heightens official control. Banned topics include human rights and the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual group.

Problems emerged in October after the installation of “packet-sniffer” software that briefly holds chunks of data for screening.

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