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Cuba Lifted Ban on Google and Facebook

Major Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily recently reported that Cuba announced its decision to lift its ban on Google and Facebook. Google also announced a willingness to assist Cuba in providing free Internet access. Chinese mainstream media did not report this news, but on Mainland social media, it quickly triggered a nationwide discussion. The biggest topic was that there are only two countries left in the world that still ban Google and Facebook – North Korea and China. To avoid having the Chinese authorities delete their postings, many Chinese netizens “protested the world’s attempt to isolate China from using Google.” Some expressed their “concerns” about the possibility that “North Korea might undergo a reform at any moment.” The primary Chinese search engine is Baidu, of which the Chinese government is a partial sponsor; the government actively filters it for censored content.
Source: Apple Daily, June 15, 2016

BBC Chinese: Chinese Official Media Gaining Ground on Facebook

BBC Chinese recently reported that official Chinese media channels such as the People’s Daily (newspaper) and CCTV (Chinese Central Television) are gaining popularity on the English Facebook platform. People’s Daily enjoys 18,923,312 followers, surpassing the New York Times. And CCTV has 25,838,015 followers, surpassing CNN. Most of the posts by these two channels are related to Chinese sightseeing, panda pictures and cultural reports. Sometimes there could be some news regarding South China Sea events and the U.S. Presidential Election. The front page stories these two carry in China never appear on Facebook. In the meantime, western studies raised some doubts. For example, a quarter of the People’s Daily followers were from India and Pakistan, as well as 12 million followers from Myanmar, which is one sixth of that country’s population. Facebook is blocked in China, so no Chinese domestic netizens can even read Facebook – very few can bypass the Great Firewall.
Source: BBC Chinese, May 18, 2016

Guangming Daily: China to Regulate Personal Information Collection and Safety Management

Guangming Daily carried an article that pointed out that the personal information safety violations of Chinese online users are very serious. The China National Information Technology Standardization Committee recently held a conference in which it disclosed that the committee plans to issue guidelines to standardize the personal information collection process. In particular, proper guidelines will be provided for businesses to collect customer information as well as for information management. According to a 2015 Investigation of Online Users Personal Information Safety Report, 63.4 percent of the telephone communication and online purchase information as well as 78.2 percent of the personal identification information including name, home address, personal ID number and employer information of the online users has previously been leaked.

Source: Guangming Daily, May 8, 2016 

Apple Closed Down Chinese iTunes and iBooks Stores

Well-known Chinese IT news site ITHome reported on April 22 that Apple closed down Mainland China region’s iTunes Store and iBooks Store. Devices in that region lost all of the related services. The reopen date is currently uncertain. According to undisclosed sources, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) shut down  the two Stores. The SAPPRFT required Apple to review its Store content and to establish content monitoring mechanisms. Not long ago the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and the SAPPRFT jointly released Administrative Regulations on Internet Publishing Services, which went in effect on March 10. The Regulations included Internet music and movies in its scope. The Regulations required that content served in China must locate servers and storage inside China and the legal representative of the service provider company must be a Chinese citizen who is also a permanent Chinese resident. Companies registered as fully or partially owned by foreign investors are not allowed in the Chinese Internet publishing market. The Regulations did leave some room for exceptions after review and approval by the SAPPRFT.
Source: ITHome, April 22, 2016

The State Council Led the Effort to Regulate Internet Finance

Well-known Chinese news site Sohu recently reported that the Chinese State Council organized a conference, which ncluded 14 cabinet-level ministries and commissions, to kick off a one-year long “clean-up” operation to deal with the chaotic Internet based finance market. The Chinese online Peer-to-Peer (P2P) finance market has recently been booming. Small but high volume personal loans and transactions have been spreading widely across the Chinese Internet like wild fire. However, in the past five years, 1,523 out of 3,984 online financial service platforms went bankrupt or simply disappeared. This resulted in significant risks in the financial market as well as increased tension in society. In recent months, several multi-billion-dollar level online P2P platforms have been investigated and ceased operation. Those investigated covered the markets of online investment management, loans, payments, consumer financing, mutual fund sales, trust management, and online advertising. 
Source: Sohu, April 17, 2016

China Plans to Require International Companies to Register Domain Names in China

The well-known new Chinese news site The Paper recently reported that the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has released a draft of the amended Internet Domain Name Regulations to the public for comments. Article 37 of the new Regulations caused considerable controversy. It requires the Chinese authorities to service and administer domain names (such as that connect to the Internet from within China. If they do not, Chinese Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are prohibited from connecting the domain owner’s computers to the internet. In addition, according to earlier business regulations, all companies conducting business in China must locate server and storage computers in China. In theory, under the new Regulations, international companies such as Apple and Microsoft will have to move their domain names to China to continue doing business in China. China started its amendment work on the Internet Domain Name Regulations in 2013, hoping to strengthen Internet administration, resource management, and “purify” the Internet environment. Chinese technical experts contend that China’s domain administration lacks the level of security protection that matches the current standard that the major foreign providers offer. 
Source: The Paper, march 29, 2016
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