China Launches Agency to Oversee Internet Control

By: Roxana Farahmand on 6 May 2011
Posted in China

The General Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China announced Wednesday the establishment of the State Internet Information Office (SIIO), a department that will oversee the supervision of the Internet.

According to a statement released by the State Council General Office, the SIIO will “direct, coordinate and supervise online content management and handle administrative approval of businesses related to online news reporting.” The new office is expected to consolidate administration of the Internet, which is currently run by several agencies, including the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), Ministry of Public Security (MPS), General Administration of Press and Publication, Ministry of Culture and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

According to the statement, the SIIO is expected to further expand upon and implement China’s information dissemination policy, as well as “investigate and punish websites violating laws and regulations. The office will also organize the government’s online publicity through the approval of online news and construction of major news websites and several internet industries.

Human rights groups anticipate that the new agency will strengthen its already-tight grip on the internet by collaborating with other organizations on filtering and supervision. Chinese officials have long been worried that the Internet would allow for the distribution of anti-government and other politically unacceptable ideas. These worries came to light after a series of pro-democracy demonstrations, inspired by the Tunisian Jasmine Revolution, took place in more than a dozen cities across China in February. The demonstrations were declared anonymously online, and resulted in the censorship of "political, sensitive ... or other inappropriate content."

The new agency will be based in the State Council Information Office, which manages the government’s information and propaganda efforts.