CUSIB and U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors Warn of New ‘Great Cannon’ Internet Censorship in China

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CUSIB and U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors Warn of New ‘Great Cannon’ Internet Censorship in China

MAY 2, 2015

CUSIB - Supporting journalism for media freedom and human rights

The independent NGO Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org) and Chairman of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Mr. Jeff Shell, issued separate warnings about the new Chinese Internet censorship tool, the so-called “Great Cannon” of China being used in conjunction with the “Great Firewall” Internet censorship tool.

FOR DESCRIPTIONS OF THE “GREAT CANNON” OF CHINA SEE:China’s Great Cannon,” Citizen Lab (citizenlab.org), Apr. 10, 2015 and “China Is Said to Use Powerful New Weapon to Censor Internet,” Nicole Perlroth, New York Times, Apr. 10, 2015.

Speaking on behalf of CUSIB at a recent BBG meeting in Washington, DC, Joseph Noonan urged BBG to continue shortwave and medium wave radio and satellite television broadcasts to China to overcome Internet censorship in that country. CUSIB called on BBG not to order radio or TV cuts in providing unbiased news from the United States to millions of disadvantaged and repressed individuals and groups around the world. He said that while new media outreach is absolutely essential and also needs to be expanded, the United States must not forget about those who cannot use or cannot afford digital media because of fear of monitoring, inability to purchase electronic devices due to poverty, or inability to use them to get uncensored news because of China’s Internet restriction tools, such as the “Great Firewall” and the “Great Cannon.”

In response to CUSIB’s concerns expressed at the meeting on April 29, 2015, BBG Chairman Jeff Shell said:

BBG CHAIRMAN JEFF SHELL: “You referenced the ‘Great Cannon’ in China, which is pretty scary. The ‘Great Firewall’ of China is obviously one of the most restrictive Internet censorship tools. What it does is that you cannot get on certain Internet sites when you’re in China.

The ‘Great Cannon’ is actually a more proactive tool that goes on even if you’re on an unrestrictive site. If you’re doing something that the Chinese government deems to be against their interests, it [the 'Great Cannon'] actually shuts down what you are accessing and what you are working on, so it’s a far more scary tool for freedom of expression than just the ‘Firewall’ that is [also] restrictive.”

At the meeting, Mr. Shell referenced initiatives being undertaken by the Broadcasting Board of Governors through Radio Free Asia (RFA) to develop Internet censorship circumvention tools. Mr. Shell also congratulated Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reporters for their recent journalistic awards recognizing their news coverage in Russia and Ukraine.

CUSIB joins Mr. Shell is applauding the hard work of RFE/RL and all other BBG journalists. On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day (Sunday, May 3), the Broadcasting Board of Governors reiterated its commitment to defending and celebrating the fundamental principles of press freedom around the world. CUSIB’s mission as an NGO is to promote free flow of information to countries without free media and to advocate for more public funding and better management for U.S. international BBG media outreach.

CUSIB thanked Mr. Shell and the entire BBG Board for resolving some of the labor relations issues at the agency, especially for the recent reinstatement of illegally RIFed (2009 reductions-in-force) Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) Radio and TV Marti journalists. CUSIB remains concerned, however, about a pending case of one RIFed OCB employee. CUSIB noted some long-standing labor relations practices at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty in Prague affecting foreign-born employees which have drawn criticism from human rights groups in the United States and abroad. CUSIB also mentioned isolated employee morale issues at this otherwise well-managed and effective BBG surrogate media entity.

CUSIB looks forward to new leadership at Voice of America (VOA) and will offer support to its next director.

BBG Chairman thanked CUSIB’s Executive Director Ann Noonan and other CUSIB members for their continued interest in monitoring the operations of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

For further information, please contact:

Ann Noonan, co-founder and Executive Director
Tel. 646-251-6069
Ted Lipien, co-founder and Director
Tel. 415-793-1642

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org) is an independent, nongovernmental organization which supports free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries without free media.

 
 

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