Digital News Report- Since China chose to block YouTube, the online video sharing site, on Monday many groups have stepped forward in opposition of the action. Some suspect that the government blocked the site due to videos that showed Chinese soldiers beating monks and other Tibetan’s. China has offered no explanation for blocking YouTube. At a press conference earlier this week a Chinese government spokesman said, “we encourage the active use of the Internet but also manage the Internet according to law.”
“We are deeply concerned that millions of Chinese Internet users have been deprived of an important information resource without being told why,” the Center to Protect Journalists Deputy Director Robert Mahoney said. “The blocking of YouTube is a sign of escalating restrictions on media freedom that we have witnessed this month in China. Authorities must explain why YouTube is inaccessible.”
Scott Rubin, a spokesperson for Google, which owns YouTube, said, “we don’t know the reason for the block and [we] are working to restore access to users in China as quickly as possible.” According to Rubin, Google was given no advanced warning that China was going to block their website, but they noticed a decline in traffic from China beginning Monday.
China blocked YouTube in March 2008 during Tibetan riots, which killed 19 people. The New York Times and Voices of America are also blocked in China and many TV shows that air on the BBC or CNN are heavily censored. The tight control of information to the Chinese people is often dubbed “The Great Firewall.”
In a statement to the BBC, Leslie Harris, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology stated, “China’s apparent blocking of YouTube is at odds with the rule of law and the right to freedom of expression. Anytime a country limits or takes down content online, it must be forthright and specific about its actions and do so only in narrowly defined circumstances consistent with international human rights and the rule of law.”