For China watchers it was an uptick that everyone was certain was bound to come. The internet has proven to be a widespread home turf for all types of crime and China is not immune. But many are asking if the current wave of arrests for internet crimes in China is due to increased crime, more surveillance or simply a tool for the Chinese government. The latest crackdown on 15,000 so-called internet criminals has many wondering if run of the mill dissidents should be looking at hiring a criminal defense attorney as much as downloading virus protection.
Clearing the Internet
It all began about six months ago when the Chinese government announced it would continue to crack down on internet criminal activity with the launch of its latest program, "Clearing the Internet." But if the latest intervention by the Chinese government is indeed looking to arrest internet criminals involved in fraud and victimizing ordinary citizens, they are choosing some odd websites for it.
Police have said they have investigated over 60,000 websites that cover the range from selling firearms and prostitution to running gambling games online. All of these types of sites are illegal in China and anyone caught running them from a Chinese ISP is liable to severe punishment.
The Great Firewall
Of course, one of the net's most notorious barriers to free trade is China's Great Firewall, designed by the government to prevent unwanted websites from penetrating the border into China. With this firewall the government in China seeks to prevent ordinary Chinese citizens from not only being victimized by online criminals but also from seeing non-government-controlled news and information. It is the latter that has resulted in the demonizing of the Great Firewall and the on-going efforts of many internet crusaders to attempt to circumvent the censorship device.
Undermining The Party
For many who have watched the development of the Great Firewall and the recent spate of arrests, the only real crime is in not agreeing with the government. The recent ruling that anyone who is on the Chinese internet must always use their real names online means that many dissidents who worked to bring outside information to the net are in danger of being arrested for using a web name in their reporting. Whether you report in your own name and face arrest or under a web name and face arrest, the end result appears to be the same.