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IOC Admits Internet Censorship Deal With China

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the shut-up-it's-patriotic dept.

Censorship 380

Dave writes "BEIJING (Reuters) — Some International Olympic Committee officials cut a deal to let China block sensitive websites despite promises of unrestricted access, a senior IOC official admitted on Wednesday. Persistent pollution fears and China's concerns about security in Tibet also remained problems for organizers nine days before the Games begin. China had committed to providing media with the same freedom to report on the Games as they enjoyed at previous Olympics, but journalists have this week complained of finding access to sites deemed sensitive to its communist leadership blocked. 'I regret that it now appears BOCOG has announced that there will be limitations on website access during Games time,' IOC press chief Kevan Gosper said, referring to Beijing's Olympic organizers. 'I also now understand that some IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered Games related,' he said." But yet somehow the mainstream media will ignore this because the Olympics are patriotic or something.

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Not Patriotism... Money (5, Insightful)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403717)

But yet somehow the mainstream media will ignore this because the Olympics are patriotic or something.

[sarcastic]Yeah, because Reuters is not at all associated with the mainstream media.[/sarcastic]

The only thing that would make a difference is if mainstream media, including NBC, threatened to boycott coverage of the Olympics, not just bitch and moan about Chinese censorship. The Chinese government would hop to right quick if their biggest PR stunt since the rise of Communism was going to get no coverage in the foreign media.

But it's not the "patriotic" element that will keep print and broadcast media chugging along. It's the money many press/media outlets have already invested in getting over there and positioning their people to get the best coverage. NBC Sports would continue Olympic coverage even if Chinese soldiers were making a public show of bludgeoning dissidents to death in the street. NBC News and Brian Williams would express shock and outrage, but you'd have someone from GE holding a gun to Bob Costas' head if necessary to keep him from walking off the air in disgust.

And if Costas did walk off, you'd have some wannabe ready and willing to fill in for him, thinking this was his/her big break.

The Olympics are a HUGE revenue source for a lot of people, and as we've seen quite often, economics will trump ethics 9 times in 10.

- Greg

Re:Not Patriotism... Money (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24403903)

Exactly, there's a HUGE amount of money in this. So what China wants, China gets.

Re:Not Patriotism... Money (4, Insightful)

Oh no, it's Dixie (1332795) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403911)

Parent deserves +5 Insightful. Just goes to show you that without real, defined penalties for default, these agreements can just be ignored. Kinda sad that the press is the only one able to enforce this, though it would be financial suicide to actually carry out their threats.

Re:Not Patriotism... Money (4, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404381)

Kinda sad that the press is the only one able to enforce this,

On the flipside, it's always unfortunate when the media are complicit with the government anywhere.

Kind of like in America. Is anyone reporting on Obama's shady dealings during his state and senate careers? No? I wonder why.

How is it that the press is all over a Republican who might-be-gay, but is amazingly silent on a Louisiana congresscritter who was caught on tape taking a bribe, then with marked bills in his freezer, during an FBI bribery sting?

Is anyone reporting on the fact that the US Congress has only a 14% job approval rating while Bush is at least above 25%? No? I wonder why - maybe it doesn't fit the biased story the MSM wants to portray.

How come the press isn't reporting on two latino political prisoners in US jail, who've been railroaded by the corrupt Bush administration and his cronies, for arresting a known Mexican drug smuggler? How come the financial and connective records of all the administration officials, the DA, the judge who illegally suppressed exculpatory evidence and prevented the jury from hearing that this smuggler had been caught more than a dozen times (including twice during his immunity agreement!), haven't been put through the microscope by the press?

Where is the "responsible" press anyways? I agree the press plays a vital role in exposing corruption... but let's face it, the MSM is itself corrupt beyond measure today.

Obama's shady dealings? (0, Troll)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404571)

What, pray tell, are those?

I expect specifics and citations. Bonus points if your citations aren't articles from worldnetdaily or the like.

Re:Obama's shady dealings? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24404635)

"I expect specifics and citations."

It wouldn't matter, and you're lying when you try to pretend it would.

Re:Obama's shady dealings? (5, Informative)

Moryath (553296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404667)

For starters, his corrupt close relationship with a slumlord who's now in prison for bribery of Illinois officials [suntimes.com] , who just "happened" to then give Obama a $300,000 "deal" on a house and later another $600,000 "deal" on a plot of land next door to expand Obama's yard space.

And then there's the borderline illegal tactics Obama used to get into political office in the first place [cnn.com] by preventing his opponents' names from being on the ballot, while Rezko was bankrolling his first campaign...

I've lived an hour from Obama's house. Trust me when I say I know him from the days before he went on this big campaign: the man is dirtier than a Lousiana mayor.

Re:Not Patriotism... Money (4, Insightful)

techiemikey (1126169) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404613)

If the Media isn't reporting on it, please tell where you found out about it.

Re:Not Patriotism... Money (5, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404535)

it would be financial suicide to actually carry out their threats.

That's the problem with having everything revolving around money. Human rights? Who cares. Government censorship? Not our problem. Lose some money? We can't let THAT happen!

"Financial suicide" would be having your newspaper go out of business. I can't see a paper going out of business because of lack of olympic coverage.

The press seems to have completely forgotten its primary purpose, and that purpose is NOT "making a profit".

Re:Not Patriotism... Money (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404401)

The Olympics are a HUGE revenue source for a lot of people, and as we've seen quite often, economics will trump ethics 9 times in 10.

I don't know if your use of caps was really warranted. If you look at the data for the 2004 games [yahoo.com] NBC brought home 30-80 million. Fast forward to today with estimates that GE has spent anywhere from 200-900 million on the games (depending on what data you read) and I dunno there are plenty more sponsors [hrw.org] but still HUGE seems pretty relative to me considering GE is due to be one of the front runners when it comes to cashing in on this event and from the data on the last summer games it doesn't look like an incredible return on investment if this year is going to be much similar. Also consider US gave out 22.739 billion in developmental assistance [wikipedia.org] in 2006 alone. For all the goings ons I really think the proper thing to do would be to boycott the games, the value of the message would by far exceed the cost to the games.

Re:Not Patriotism... Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24404405)

10 times out of 10

Re:Not Patriotism... Money (0, Redundant)

coren2000 (788204) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404487)

11 times out of 10

Re:Not Patriotism... Money (3, Funny)

coren2000 (788204) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404559)

NBC Sports would continue Olympic coverage even if Chinese soldiers were making a public show of bludgeoning dissidents to death in the street.

Gives a whole new meaning to the 100m dash.

Re:Not Patriotism... Money [Don't watch!] (1)

Sun.Jedi (1280674) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404641)

It's the money many press/media outlets have already invested in getting over there and positioning their people to get the best coverage. NBC Sports would continue Olympic coverage even if Chinese soldiers were making a public show of bludgeoning dissidents to death in the street.

It's one thing to broadcast it... it's another thing entirely if no one watches.

I won't be watching, but then NBC (and the other useless US networks) already know I don't watch their programming from reviewing the channel history right off my cable converter box.

Supporting events in China is a no-brainer to fail miserably, especially given the Nielson ratings from Italy in 2006, and declining numbers since 1984.

This years Olympic trial numbers [nytimes.com] from NYT
2006 numbers [usatoday.com] from Italy.
Here's an article [cnn.com] which details exactly how much money was spent by NBC in Athens (2004), for less than 20% ROI.
An article from 2000 (Summer) shows the olympics averaged 13.3 [imdb.com] and Sunday Night Football (in the SUMMER!) got a 10.3.

No problem (3, Interesting)

Yer Mum (570034) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403751)

Browse through a VPN to company HQ.

Or are VPNs banned too?

Re:No problem (3, Informative)

Wiarumas (919682) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403943)

VPNs and proxies both work through China's firewall.

Re:No problem (1)

Legion_SB (1300215) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404585)

VPNs work. But VPN software pages and instructions are blocked. ;)

Why... (3, Funny)

Leuf (918654) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403789)

Do you need to access the Amnesty International website to cover the Olympics?

Re:Why... (4, Informative)

Moryath (553296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404217)

If you're making a complete report (instead of the biased nonsense the chinese want), you want to check what the current status is with the various reputable groups who are doublechecking on them.

And despite their horrible record on Israel/Palestine, Amnesty International are pretty reputable on almost all other issues.

Likewise, you'll want to check up on other sources - outside dissident groups (which Falun Gong is, not an "evil fake religion" as the chinese propaganda dept labeled them), Taiwanese gov't, etc.

That is, if you're doing fair and honest reporting. And not just being a chinese shill.

Amnesty (3, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404335)

I think they mean well, but they often make up their minds based on what the situation is, before getting any of the facts. And often they rely on few sources that present a very black and white biased view, when the real situation is shades of gray.

Re:Why... (2, Interesting)

rduke15 (721841) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404357)

horrible record on Israel/Palestine

What is this about? Not trying to start an off-topic flamewar, but would appreciate if someone could post a couple of links to understand what you are referring to.

Re:Why... (-1, Flamebait)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404551)

And despite their horrible record on Israel/Palestine, Amnesty International are pretty reputable on almost all other issues.

What? You mean that Amnesty International do not portray the sionists nazis under a favourable light? Oh, the horror! They have to be antisemites! Oh, the humanity!!!

Re:Why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24404495)

How else are going to find out about Taiwan's gymnastic team that mysteriously disappeared.

Mainstream media is covering it. (4, Interesting)

randyest (589159) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403797)

But yet somehow the mainstream media will ignore this because the Olympics are patriotic or something.

Huh? I find more than a thousand stories about this [google.com] and I saw it mentioned on CNN last night. What's your definition of "mainstream?"

Re:Mainstream media is covering it. (3, Funny)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403989)

The freaking link is from Reuters, which meets most people's standards of "mainstream media".

Re:Mainstream media is covering it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24404089)

Relax, it's Cmdr Taco. He's been posting quips like this for the last 10 years. They never get better.

Some people grow up. Some people run Slashdot.

Re:Mainstream media is covering it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24404421)

Hand written on a virgin's ass. That's my definition!

Re:Mainstream media is covering it. (2, Informative)

ringmaster_j (760218) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404619)

Yeah, the CBC just had a very long report on this, including having their 'tech expert' give ideas as to how the media could get around the great firewall. Oddly enough, this year the CBC has been evenly split down the middle, between covering the games' greatness, and covering their awfulness. In past years, there was nothing controversial to report on (unless you count Athens' down-to-the-wire construction schedule.)

ssh tunneling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24403801)

...or a VPN to their home office.
SOMEbody needs to teach them how to do that...

What can they really do? (4, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403807)

The only *power* the Olympic Committee has, at this point, at least I think, would be to *cancel* the Olympics. What other power do they have over China at this point? It's not like the IOC can impose sanctions on China, can it?

Re:What can they really do? (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404061)

> What can they really do?

Apparently they can agree to the blocking of "sensitive sites".

some IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked

Even if they are powerless to stop it, they do have the power to object. Instead they agreed.

Re:What can they really do? (5, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404175)

What other power do they have over China at this point? It's not like the IOC can impose sanctions on China, can it?

Of course they have power. They can rule that China's athletes cannot compete in the games. They made exactly such a politics-based ruling against the 7-person team from Iraq just last week. They've since changed their minds, and now TWO athletes from Iraq will be allowed to compete. The IOC's membership is aggressively anti-American (which is funny, considering that the largest share of the money from games-sponsoring and IOC-funding companies comes from the US), and play all sorts of games like this at the committee level. Police states like China get no grief from the IOC, but the US has no voting seat on the IOC's executive committee. In the same meeting during which the IOC decided to kill off baseball and softball from the games two years ago, the US was voted off of the executive committee. The IOC's president, in Belgium, appears not to have minded Iraq's previous Olympic committee chair (Uday Hussein, who had athletes beaten - and worse - for not winning games), but considers the fragile new Iraqi government too shaky, and too supported by the US, to put forth a team to his liking ... though North Korea, of course, is fine, and countries like China which actively lie about their ICO-related policies in order to get the games in their country can just hum along and get what they want.

Since China is being caught having lied about a central issue around which their obtaining of the games was focused, it seems appropriate for the IOC to threaten ruling out their own national team's participation. I can't think of a single better use of the IOC's capricious authority, but it would at least hit China where it hurts, and show the world that messing with reporters' use of the internet is typical policy there - and in direct contradiction to China's contingent-upon-getting-the-games promise of exactly the opposite.

Re:What can they really do? (4, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404403)

South Africa was banned from the Olympics for over twenty years because of Apartheid. Mind you, back then, it's unlikely that the IOC would have picked Johannesburg as a host city.

Everyone knew this was going to happen. They knew the Butchers of Beijing weren't going to truly open things up.

Re:What can they really do? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24404241)

Right. And as a Div 1 collegiate athlete, I think that people should have a respect for the Olympics because of the athletes, not for any "patriotic" reason.

Never politicize the Olympics! It is very sad to think of the times when the Olympics have been canceled for political reasons. If I had made it to the Olympics, I wouldn't care how communist my competitors may or may not be. Since I didn't make it, I sure want to be able to watch on TV. Political battles are for another time, another place, and it's not like we don't already have enough of that other time/other place.

Re:What can they really do? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404329)

Actually, they can ban the Chineese teams from participating in the games. That would be pretty interesting! They could also formally recognize Tawain as a seperate team. They have a special name and status in the Olympics, because China throws a fit when someone says they aren't part of China.

Main Stream Media? (1)

UDGags (756537) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403819)

"But yet somehow the mainstream media will ignore this because the Olympics are patriotic or something." Good thing I read it on cnn.com and msnbc.com before seeing it on here.

Nice troll, Taco (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24403831)

Yes, the mainstream media... like Reuters, who is the source of your story.

AC Admits Anal Deal With CmdrTaco (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24403835)

n/t

Surprise... (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403841)

Communists like to control information. It will backfire on them...

Re:Surprise... (-1, Offtopic)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403891)

Yes... Communists... [bushsecrecy.org]

Re:Surprise... (2, Informative)

randyest (589159) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403985)

Is your link supposed to show that communists don't try to suppress information? Or that Bush is a communist? Or something totally irrelevant like Bush also tries to suppress information? I'm so confused....

Re:Surprise... (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404069)

I was trying to show that Communism hasn't exactly cornered the market (no pun intended) on information suppression.

Re:Surprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24404243)

"I was trying to show that Communism hasn't exactly cornered the market (no pun intended) on information suppression."

Who said or implied they have? Oh, right, nobody. He said communists do something, not only communists do something. Why is it so hard for people like you to discuss subjects like this without resorting to knee jerk "BUSH DID IT TOO!!!" nonsense?

What you were doing is called "trolling" not "trying to show blah blah blah..."

Re:Surprise... (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404285)

I wasn't intending it as a troll. The parent seemed to me to imply that information withholding is a staple of communism. It isn't. It's a staple of powerful governments of all kinds. Formerly communist Yugoslavia, for example, was very open with its information.

Re:Surprise... (1)

randyest (589159) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404415)

The parent implied no such thing and you know it. You're just reaching. And Yugoslavia's "communism" is really more like "Titoism" or "Market Socialism" so it's a pretty poor counterexample.

Re:Surprise... (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404561)

I don't "know" it. If I knew it, I wouldn't have replied. It was a misunderstanding and I apologize.

Re:Surprise... (1)

randyest (589159) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404317)

But nobody claimed that it did. Random Bush-bashing is really getting old. Yes, we don't like him, we know you don't like him, we know he did/does bad stuff, but he'll be gone soon, so could you please give it a rest for a bit? Or at least confine it to relevant discussions.

Re:Surprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24404677)

Good for you [thebestpag...iverse.net]

Re:Surprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24404071)

Clearly it means that two wrongs make a right.

Re:Surprise... (1)

karbyn-aceous (1204544) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403983)

No they don't. Nothing to see here. Please move along.

just use satellite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24403873)

If the reporters need to use the internet that badly, they should just use satellite internet to bypass the great Chinese Firewall.

The conservative blogosphere isn't ignoring it (5, Insightful)

leereyno (32197) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403875)

Giving China the Olympic games will go down as either an unconscionable endorsement of their prison state, or as an indictment of the same.

Anything and everything that can be done to undermine and destroy the police state that rules China should be done.

Re:The conservative blogosphere isn't ignoring it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24404185)

If you believe that you should be voting against every Republican you can in the US election or you are a hypocrite.

Re:The conservative blogosphere isn't ignoring it (3, Insightful)

randyest (589159) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404491)

Yep, and Democrat too. Congress is full of war criminals of both parties.

Re:The conservative blogosphere isn't ignoring it (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404287)

Bringing the media (however inept and culpable they may be) in can only be positive IMHO. I think coverage outdoors is going to be particularly remarkable this Olympics. It is very difficult for the Chinese government to deny their little pollution problem when on a "low pollution" day you cannot see the sun because of smog. The shame this will Olympics will bring to China will not go away quickly.

Re:The conservative blogosphere isn't ignoring it (2, Interesting)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404471)

"...undermine and destroy the police state that rules China..."

You seem to be implying that the Chinese people are oppressed by an authoritarian government, but liberated from the current dictatorship would suddenly be free. That isn't what would happen.
After a series of power struggles they would rebuild the government in the same image, along with all the censorship. The Olympic games and a bit of media attention will not change the underlying mindset that binds the whole thing together.

I am no longer worried about the Olympics (2, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404549)

I am more concerned about what comes next.

See, having been awarded the Olympics was like having a tighter and tighter leash applied to some of the more militant Chinese authorities. With it done and gone the gloves will come off. What happens to Taiwan? Especially if we get a new President who they perceive as weak or simply not interested?

It was a crime by the IOC to award China the Olympics in the first place but it was also criminal that the EU and USA stood by and didn't protest it either. Face it, our governments turn a blind eye to any other "equal". Piss ant countries like Iraq, Checyna, and the like, well their just screwed. Russia, China, US, and France, all have their whipping post nations or people (maybe Britain and Germany do too but I don't know them off the top of my head).

The fact is, none of the big boys deserves to host it.

Not Suprising... (3, Insightful)

Rayeth (1335201) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403877)

This shouldn't really surprise anyone. Beijing has been way too tight-fisted about internet control to suddenly decide that everything is now fair game. I'm actually amazed they allowed as much as they did. Oh well, if you need to see Amnesty International then maybe encrypt your traffic or use a VPN.

Re:Not Suprising... (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404517)

This shouldn't really surprise anyone. Beijing has been way too tight-fisted about internet control to suddenly decide that everything is now fair game. I'm actually amazed they allowed as much as they did.

Me too, I think it's good that they're moving in the right direction

Once a chink... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24403893)

Once a chink, always a chink. These savages just don't get it.

Re:Once a chink... (1)

Subotai (34761) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404203)

You are definitely an anonymous (racist) coward to espouse such crud.

or they could ignore it (4, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403921)

But yet somehow the mainstream media will ignore this because the Olympics are patriotic or something.

Or it could be they will ignore it because everyone already knows China censors. The exact details of the matter are probably not interesting, and most likely don't matter. I mean, really, what did you expect? Did you expect China to give unfettered access to the internet? If everyone knows what's going to happen, it's really not news. News is for......new stuff, not protesting your favorite injustice.

Only one thing left to do.. (4, Insightful)

neoform (551705) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403923)

Boycott the 2008 Olympics.

Everything i hear about the Olympics in China make me want nothing to do with it.

I'm boycotting it and wont watch any of the events.

Re:Only one thing left to do.. (1)

VEGETA_GT (255721) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404059)

You may be but even if some groups boycott it thats going to be a SMALL and I stress SMALL minority of people. How many people don't care and just want to see there team win. I think it was a mistake to go to chine, in all honesty I think Toronto should have gotten it but some loud mouths in Toronto (mayer at the time) really screwed it for Toronto. I am in the Toronto area so know a bit more on it. It as basically between Toronto and China in the end, and Apparently some dumb people here said the wrong things ans that tipped the scales in China's favor. but one has to ask yourself if it was Toronto vs China how bad was Toronto bid that it was going against china lol

Re:Only one thing left to do.. (1)

slmdmd (769525) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404265)

me too, I will not watch 2008 olympics.

Re:Only one thing left to do.. (5, Interesting)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404343)

I'm boycotting the olympics but not primarily because of China. The whole overcommercialized, performance enhancing drug fueled, censorship and copyright problem ridden thing disgusts me to the core. It is the polar opposite of what the olympic spirit was.

I'm automatically excluding every brand on my purchase list as long as they feature ads in the Olympics theme or sponsor the Olympics.

Re:Only one thing left to do.. (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404511)

Yeah sure I might as well sign up for that also, not that I was going to watch it anyway.

Re:Only one thing left to do.. (5, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404597)

I started my Olympic boycott with the LA games, but that was because they had turned into a craptastic media-fueled 24 hr sob story/inspirational tale.

There are enough sporting events going on to fill all 24 hours with "these are the competitors, and they're OFF!" instead of 5 minutes of some prepubescent mutant's gymnastics routine followed by 55 minutes of her stirring tale of anguish and triumph, afetr a word from these sponsors.

Article Text (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24403927)

For crap's sake. They split this tiny article into three pages with a column of text about 15 characters wide. Give me a break. Here's TFA text:

IOC admits Internet censorship deal with China
Wed Jul 30, 2008 12:06pm EDT
By Nick Mulvenney

BEIJING (Reuters) - Some International Olympic Committee officials cut a deal to let China block sensitive websites despite promises of unrestricted access, a senior IOC official admitted on Wednesday.

Persistent pollution fears and China's concerns about security in Tibet also remained problems for organizers nine days before the Games begin.

China had committed to providing media with the same freedom to report on the Games as they enjoyed at previous Olympics, but journalists have this week complained of finding access to sites deemed sensitive to its communist leadership blocked.

"I regret that it now appears BOCOG has announced that there will be limitations on website access during Games time," IOC press chief Kevan Gosper said, referring to Beijing's Olympic organizers.

"I also now understand that some IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered Games related," he said.

Attempts at the main press centre to access the website of Amnesty International, which released a report on Monday slamming China for failing to honor its Olympic human rights pledges, continued to prove fruitless by mid-week.

Other websites, including those relating to the banned spiritual group Falun Gong, are also inaccessible.

Beijing organizers said censorship would not stop journalists doing their jobs in reporting the Games.

"We are going to do our best to facilitate the foreign media to do their reporting work through the Internet," BOCOG spokesman Sun Weide told a news conference.

"I would remind you that Falun Gong is an evil, fake religion which has been banned by the Chinese government."

Reporters without Borders, a Paris-based media watchdog, said it was increasingly concerned that there would be many cases of censorship during the Olympics.

"We condemn the IOC's failure to do anything about this, and we are more skeptical about its ability to ensure that the media are able to report freely," the group said in a statement.

SMOG-WATCH

But the admission that the Internet will be partly censored is sure to lead to more criticism for the Olympics host nation, which is already deflecting barbs over everything from the quality of its air to its human rights record.

On Wednesday, Chinese experts said they were working on emergency plans to keep Olympic skies clear, including keeping cars off the roads in nearby provinces, but expected not to need them unless unusual pollution-trapping weather continued.

The city has already banned cars from roads on alternate days under an odd-and-even license plate scheme, suspended some factory production and opened new subway lines to try to clear its notorious pollution.

"The likelihood of needing stronger measures is very small," said Zhu Tong, a professor at Peking University and leader of a technical group advising Games organizers on air quality.

Slightly cooler temperatures and rain on Tuesday have thinned the haze, but with below-par air quality readings on several days since the emergency measures took effect on July 20, worries remain about athletes wheezing air laced with fumes and dust.

Experts said that given the size of Beijing, the volume of pollutants that flow into the city from other parts of China, and the short time period before the Games open on August 8, there was little more that could be done.

"In this short a time-frame, even if you took all the personal cars off the highway, you might see another 10 percent improvement, but it would be small," said Staci Simonich, an analytical chemist at Oregon State University who has been studying Beijing's air quality.

"The best thing that could happen during the Games is to have it rain every night," she said.

China also has other issues on its mind, including security in the restive region of Tibet, where official media said Chinese police had been mobilized to ensure "absolute security without a single lapse".

The remote region erupted into rioting in March that sparked protests across China's ethnic Tibetan areas and brought into focus international criticism of Beijing's policies on the issue.

The Tibet Daily announced on Wednesday tough policing during the Games on top of a sweeping security crackdown already in place. China is at pains to avoid any shows of defiance by pro-Tibet independence groups that could embarrass the government before a worldwide audience.

DELETE PARENT: Copyright violation (4, Informative)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404029)

I hate crap-tastic 'news' websites as much as the next guy, but PLEASE do not EVER copy the entire text of a copyrighted article into the Slasdhot comments. You are inviting a lawsuit by the copyright holder against Slashdot. Slashdot can probably pass on the buck to you, maybe, but since you posted as anonymous coward, that probably leaves /. holding the buck. Setup your own damn website to violate copyright.

Re:DELETE PARENT: Copyright violation (1)

randyest (589159) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404587)

That's ridiculous. People have been doing that for years and, as long as they do it AC to avoid karma whoring, I see no problem with it nor, apparently, does Taco. If the original site has a problem with it, they can issue a DMCA takedown notice. By then it'll be off the front page and no one will care. (What's got YOU so RILED up? That your "news site" or something?)

Also... (4, Funny)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403945)

The IOC has agreed to China's restrictions on soup with buffet.

Meh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24403959)

Nothing that tor or a vpn tunnel can't fix.

The IOC lied? My God, I'm shocked! (5, Funny)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#24403965)

When it comes to pure, mealy-mouthed, underhanded douchebaggery, it's difficult to beat your basic European upper class snob. The IOC, of course, is completely infested with the creatures.

Not patriotism, business (1, Insightful)

burnitdown (1076427) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404001)

The eternal divide remains: make money, or do what is perceived as "right"?

The Olympics is going to be a gigantic spectacle, a media event and a profit center, whether it's under a "freedom"-loving liberal democracy, or totalitarian propaganda staged in stadiums built on heaps of dead dissidents.

A consumer boycott might unite 1% of the citizens of the United States, most of whom are east coast liberals who weren't going to watch it anyway (sports are for blue collar people), and cost the organizers enough to make them think differently -- but the next Olympics isn't in China anyway, and by the time another "oppressive" (not "freedom"-loving) state hosts the Olympics, the decision-makers will be retired or promoted to different positions.

So in short, fold your arms and do nothing. There's nothing you can do.

Quick... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24404033)

Every site deemed sensitive to China's communist leadership should add something about the Olympics on their website to become "Games related".

Ban porn... (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404041)

...for to improve Stamina and Sporting Achievement!

gn4a (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24404077)

fea8 the reaper

IOC and China are a perfect match (5, Funny)

Neil Watson (60859) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404079)

One is ruled by ruthless despots. And so is China.

So, quit reporting (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404093)

If the reporters QUIT reporting on china, then china will stop this insane approach. Bad press is better than NO press.

My Mother Tried This Approach With Me In 1964 (4, Funny)

strelitsa (724743) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404099)

"Son, there are certain books in the library in this house that you are not allowed to read. We are the parents and know more than you do, so we get to make these kind of decisions and you have no recourse other than to shut up and agree.

Now then, I am locking the books you are not allowed to read in this cabinet. Your father and I have the only keys to it. So that is that."

To this day, I'm glad that How To Pick Locks and other tomes of that kind weren't locked in that cabinet. And I hope that the suits at NBC and other media outlets had a mother like mine.

Re:My Mother Tried This Approach With Me In 1964 (1)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404299)

What books did they exactly keep in there, or were they the books any kid at a young age wouldn't wanna come across?

Re:My Mother Tried This Approach With Me In 1964 (1)

Phairdon (1158023) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404591)

What books did they exactly keep in there, or were they the books any kid at a young age wouldn't wanna come across?

They weren't books at all. My guess is homemade movies from the master suite...

20 minutes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24404107)

So...they're using a blacklist, eh? And any server anyone puts up -- which your browser can have an SSL connection with -- can be reached until China desides otherwise?

What we need is a kind of online broker between webmasters who run their own server, and a single reporter who would like to piggyback on each one. I'm sure many of us sys admins would do it for free, but a whole lot of administrators would be glad to do it for $50.

In sum, folks, this is a technical problem in serach of a technical solution. It should take a senior web developer who runs his own servers and knows about developing scalable web apps twenty minutes to engineer this "trading center" that anonymously connects reporters -- while they're still in the US -- with likewise American sys admins.

Though I must add that I'm damned if I know what those twenty minutes are.

Greed is Patriotic (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404137)

No surprise here. I'm boycotting them (and advertisers) this year, anyhow.

Patriotic indeed (1)

ndansmith (582590) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404163)

The Olympics are the best kind of patriotism. Everyone can get really excited about their country for arbitrary reasons, and so far as I know there have been no wars over the outcome of the 100m dash.

Scrabulous (-1, Offtopic)

Darth_Burrito (227272) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404269)

The irony for me seeing this story here today is that last night I spent a good hour or so looking for a non-US/canadian proxy service so I could play Scrabulous online.

Hasbro has sued Indian based Scrabulous for copyright infringement and as a result they've had to restrict the service for all US/Canadian IPs. Scrabble was created in 1938 by Alfred Mosher Butts [wikipedia.org] , who was born in 1899 and died in 1993. It's a 70 year old game created by a man that's been dead for 15 years and it's illegal to put copies of it online in the US.

Sure, nobody's getting killed over a game of Scrabble (that I know of), but sometimes I think this kind of censorship is more dangerous. It stifles human progress in a manner that most people find acceptable because they can't relate to it.

seriously... is anyone suprised by this? (1)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404307)

The nations retail goods are so tied up in China right now that if we pissed them off, all they would have to do is squeeze the tube a little to bring the whole world to its knees.

Re:seriously... is anyone suprised by this? (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404437)

Which they won't do, because it would destroy them to. Let's face it, we've replaced a military cold war with an economic one; where the competing powers now hold the capacity to destroy each other's economies, but only at the cost of their own. It's the MAD doctrine of the 21st century.

Re:seriously... is anyone suprised by this? (1)

Jeian (409916) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404565)

And then what are they going to do with all the manufactured products they made to export?

Re:seriously... is anyone suprised by this? (2, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404617)

The nations retail goods are so tied up in China right now that if we pissed them off, all they would have to do is squeeze the tube a little to bring the whole world to its knees.

If the slave kills the master, the slave starves to death.

patriotism has nothing to do with it. (1)

metamechanical (545566) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404323)

But yet somehow the mainstream media will ignore this because the Olympics are patriotic or something.

My friend repeatedly tells me how sickening it is that people protest the torch, and how disgusted she is that world leaders would even consider boycotting the games. When asked why, she explains that the Olympics are about ignoring national disagreements, and coming together as a people to participate in a global event where we can celebrate Human achievement.

I usually refrain from pointing out that the Olympics is actually about product placement and advertising revenue. Somehow I don't think that would go over well.

"Dave writes:" (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404337)

BEIJING (Reuters) -- Some International Olympic Committee officials cut a deal to let China block sensitive websites

I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't let you do that.

Problem for reporters, but who else? (2, Insightful)

Madball (1319269) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404349)

Really, this only appears to be an issue if you are a reporter (and perhaps athelete and/or random attendee). So, you show up at your hotel or Dorm, or whatever, and you get the same censored internet that every Chinese national gets. Do you expect all the rules to be lifted because you are special? Wouldn't it be hypocritical to give you unfettered access to the internet while the citizens do not? It would be an administrative headache and to what end? If you don't like it, fly home and use your own damn ISP.

I'm not defending the filtering of the internet, but don't really understand why guests to the country would/should be treated differently... I would guess that the Falun Gong and Amnesty International are blocked for Chinese nationals too.

Re:Problem for reporters, but who else? (1)

jimbobborg (128330) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404519)

Well, the Chinese gov't declared dog off the menus in Beijing because of this. Shouldn't you be able to get the same food that every Chinese national gets?

Gotta love the IOC (1)

Jeian (409916) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404393)

When China opts to censor Internet access, the IOC wrings its hands and thoroughly "regrets" it... but they don't dare, you know, actually *do* anything about it.

When Iraq dissolves their national Olympic committee (alleging corruption), the IOC is outraged and bans the country from participating. (They weren't nearly as outraged, for some reason, when the Husseins oversaw Iraq's Olympic representation and tortured athletes who failed to perform up to expectations.) I realize they've since lifted the ban, but the fact that they ever placed it is a travesty.

I, for one, refuse to support the current hypocrisy that is the Olympics.

IOC: Its OK To Block Bad Religions (5, Insightful)

johnos (109351) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404527)

The IOC spokesperson said one of the blocked sites belonged to Faulun Gong. "I would remind you that Falun Gong is an evil, fake religion which has been banned by the Chinese government."

So its OK, then. I'm just surprised that the IOC has an official position on Faulun Gong. What other religions does it characterize officially? What does the IOC think about Scientology? Islam? Would they agree that Luther was holier than St. Augustine? Who would do better at the 100m freestyle, Jesus or Mohammad? Could the Hindu pantheon stand a chance against the Greek pantheon at water polo?

Since the IOC brought it up, they should at least provide reporters with the IOC's own official list of religions its OK to block. This should be no problem as the IOC is really thorough when it comes to official lists.

Blocking and the press (1, Troll)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 6 years ago | (#24404669)

So, China blocks portions of the Internet - and always has - and suddenly its front page news.

But, in the USA, ISPs are blocking more and more sites every day [slashdot.org] - but it barely gets noticed by the same mainstream press.

If human rights violations and internet blocking are reasons to not hold an Olympics - then I guess the USA will never host another one.
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