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[liberationtech] USTR seeks detailed info on China Internet restrictions through WTO rules
cynthia at cdt.org
Wed Oct 19 10:38:05 PDT 2011
The information requests made by the United States are reproduced below:
1. Websites of service suppliers based outside of China are sometimes
inaccessible in China, which can prevent those companies from
marketing products and supplying services to the Chinese market. The
United States would like to better understand China’s rules governing
website blocking so that service suppliers based outside of China may
adopt appropriate policies to avoid encountering this problem.
a. Who or what ministry is responsible for determining if and when a
foreign website should be blocked in China?
b. What are the guidelines and criteria for blocking access to foreign
websites? How often are these guidelines and criteria changed or
published? Where are these guidelines published? Are they made public
in advance of their implementation? Which ministries are responsible
for drafting them?
c. What is the process for implementing a restriction on a website?
How does the relevant entity determine whether an entire website
should be blocked or only services or content deemed illegal?
d. Is the blocking implemented directly by the government, or
indirectly by Internet service providers (ISPs) and/or
e. If blocking is carried out by ISPs or telecommunications companies,
are these actions typically implemented through written governmental
orders? If so, which governmental organs are authorized to issue such
f. How can a service supplier without a physical presence in China
determine if access to their website is or will be blocked in China?
To whom should such a supplier direct questions if there are any
g. Can an affected service supplier appeal a decision to block access
to their website? If so, what is the procedure for appealing, and
where is that procedure published? Can a service supplier use the
court system to appeal a decision to block access to their website? If
so, has any such appeal ever been successful?
h. Is the same process used to prevent access to foreign and domestic
websites providing similar services in China? If the process is
different, please describe the differences.
2. The United States understands that the State Council established a
State Internet Information Office (SIIO) in May 2011. The United
States is interested in better understanding the functions of the
office and whether it is the appropriate interlocutor for foreign
businesses that have questions or concerns regarding website
a. What are the responsibilities and authorities of the SIIO?
b. Will the SIIO handle licensing or other approval processes for
Internet service providers or make decisions regarding filtering of
foreign websites? If so, please describe which of these processes the
SIIO will manage.
c. Should companies contact the SIIO or some other entity when they
have questions regarding China’s Internet filtering laws, regulations
and policies? If the SIIO is the appropriate contact, which office or
individual should they contact? If not SIIO, which ministry and office
should companies contact?
d. Which categories of objectionable conduct are managed by each
ministry with responsibilities or authorities for managing Internet
3. Based on information provided by the SIIO earlier this year, the
United States understands that foreign websites are sometimes
inadvertently blocked when they share an IP address with a website
which China has deemed harmful.
a. Can you explain how such inadvertent blockages occur?
b. Are there other ways that China can filter material deemed harmful
to avoid such inadvertent website blockages?
c. Would Chinese authorities consider it reasonable to notify the
owner of a web hosting service that one or more sites that the service
hosts are being blocked in China, so that the web hosting service can
ensure that other legitimate sites are not inadvertently blocked? Are
Chinese authorities already doing this?
d. What steps should companies take when they become aware of such
inadvertent blockages to resolve any issues and ensure their services
are accessible in China?
4. The Measures for the Administration of Internet Information
Services, issued by the State Council on September 25, 2000, describe
nine categories of content which Internet information service
providers may not disseminate. The Provisions on the Administration of
Internet News Information Services, issued by the State Council and
Ministry of Information Industry on September 25, 2005, add two
additional categories of content which may not be transmitted. Given
the broad nature of these categories, the United States is seeking
greater clarity on the content that falls within them.
a. Are there any laws, regulations, policies or other guidance that
establish criteria to determine when content fits into these eleven
categories? If so, where can a service supplier access these measures?
b. Are government requests or orders to filter specific terms online
ever communicated directly to Internet information service providers?
If so, how are these directives communicated? Are these requests or
orders made public? Does an Internet information service provider have
the right to obtain a written order prior to implementing such a
c. Are the same terms subject to filtering made available to Internet
information service providers inside China and outside China?
5. According to the White Paper on the Internet in China,
“telecommunication business operators and Internet information service
providers shall establish Internet security management systems and
utilize technical measures to prevent the transmission of all types of
a. How is illegal information defined in this instance?
b. Is a written governmental order required for either a private
corporation or a relevant authority to block the transmission of
c. What types of technical measures are service suppliers expected to
use to prevent transmission of the illegal information?
d. Do authorities in China approve specific technical measures? If so,
which ministry does this?
e. Are the technical measures employed by operators to block the
transmission of illegal information applied automatically to domestic
and foreign traffic? If not, how are they applied?
f. Does Internet content from outside of China go through a separate
monitoring process for illegal information than Internet content
created inside of China? If so, how do the two processes differ?
Cynthia M. Wong
Director, Global Internet Freedom Project
Center for Democracy & Technology
CDT • 1634 I Street NW • Suite 1100 • Washington, DC 20006
E cynthia at cdt.org P +1-202-407-8835 F +1-202-637-0968
Keeping the Internet Open, Innovative & Free!
Follow our work on Twitter @CenDemTech @cynthiamw
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