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Joined: 2005-04-24
Points: 648
*Posted: Submitted by wtanaka (648) on Fri, 2006-09-22 08:28. | Subject: Content Policies

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech is not absolute anywhere.  The canonical (but maybe apocryphal?) example in the U.S. is that you're not allowed to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theather.  I'm pretty sure if you claim to have a bomb while going through U.S. airport security, you'll get detained and maybe arrested.  The Alien and Sedition Act of 1918 in the U.S. made it illegal, for a while, to criticize the government.

If you were to (say) openly have child pornography or claim to sell controlled substances online from a U.S. website, the Feds would most likely come and bust your sorry little...  operation.  Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany.  People have been arrested for holocaust denial on websites outside of Germany, and there are restrictions on pro-Nazi or Neo-Nazi speech there (and I believe in other countries in Europe as well).

China is well known to be more restrictive than (say) the U.S. in their regulation of these matters. Their technological, diplomatic, and legal methods of enforcing these regulations regularly get international press time.  And that brings me to the subject of this site.

Keeping the Treehouse Unblocked

I have two motivations for trying to keep this site in compliance with any Chinese regulations about content on the internet.

  1. The site is located outside China (and if/when I move the hosting, I plan to keep things that way).  However, China has an extremely effective filtering system that they can use to prevent the vast majority of internet users located within the country from accessing a site outside the country.  I'd prefer that the Treehouse remains unblocked, so that it can continue to serve as a resource for travellers and residents in China, instead of just those outside.
  2. I reside in China at the moment.  Thus, I'm within the jurisdiction of Chinese law enforcement, with all the consequences that holds.  If I resided in the U.S. (and believed what I read on slashdot), I could remain unliable for what other people post to the site simply by being completely agnostic to the content of what people post.  However, I fear that (similar to the German case) such things don't matter much as long as I'm present inside China.

These two considerations are more important to me than my personal belief in the benefits of free speech, especially since the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution (where I probably got these beliefs in the first place) doesn't have any relevance in China.

Why Now?

All of this is academic if this site were too small for the authorities to bother with or if I had control over all the content on the site.  And until recently, I had assumed that the Treehouse wasn't large enough for anyone to consider wasting the time blocking it or coming after me directly.  However, I've been informed recently that it is on at least one government radar and even if that turns out not to be true, I'd rather deal with this sooner rather than later.

So I come to my goal in posting this, which is this:

I'd like to come up with a policy for content submitted to the site that can be as consistently applied, clearly stated and fair as is possible within whatever Chinese internet laws that can possibly affect this site or me personally.

Unfortunately, I don't know what the laws are, and I don't think anybody knows for sure what content is or is now allowed.  So although I've been thinking about this today, I'm not yet sure how to start, or if such a policy is even possible.


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Joined: 2005-04-24
Points: 648
*Posted: Sun, 2006-10-29 17:11 | Subject: Conditions of use for this

Conditions of use for this site have been posted.


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Joined: 2006-10-24
Points: 10
*Posted: Tue, 2006-10-31 14:44 | Subject: Sugesstion

I do enjoy this site very much.Now being a resident of China for what will be me 2nd year I would not like to see it get blocked either.I also telll my friends and family about it for when they come to visit.

I'am however weary to tell my students about it due to some of the content that some unintelligent person and or people choose to express.Because they can't understand the simple Condition of Use.



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