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One World Wide Web, Three Monitoring Schemes: A Comparative Analysis of
The Internet Surveillance Systems of the United States, the Russian Federation
This paper compared the Internet surveillance systems of the United
Russian Federation, and China. The comparison was carried out within the
framework of the Eko Internet regulatory typology. It was found that the three
countries carry out Internet surveillance within the framework of
political, economic, social and cultural systems. The United States
is a neomerchantilist
regulator of the Internet whose surveillance activities are mostly
limited to judicially sanctioned law enforcement measures. Russia's
activities reflect the country's culture of centralized governmental
information and communication. The Russian government is effectively the
gateway to the Internet for its citizens. For its part, the Chinese
created a national Intranet, the so-called Great Online Firewall.
This means the
government is the only gateway to the Internet. While governmental agencies
strictly control Internet content and censor ideologically
the Chinese government also strives to use the Internet for economic
development. This study shows that despite globalization, powerful
are as present on the Internet, and in the lives of their citizens as usual.
Globalization is said to be a powerful force that has symbolically, if not
physically erased national geographical boundaries, and
economic activities that were once the domain of the nation-state (Mattelart,
2002:81) But is geography really history? In order to study that
analyzed the Internet surveillance activities of the United States,
Russia and the
People's Republic of China.
In its original conceptualization and deployment, the Internet was an
instrument of communications securement. In effect, the Internet grew
out of the
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) computer network,
ARPANET (DARPA, 1997). This was a military communications infrastructure
created during the Cold War to link the global military resources of
States through a redundant "system of systems" or network of computer
networks that was designed to survive a Soviet nuclear first strike.
is therefore steeped in an ideology of network security (National
Telecommunications and Information Administration, 1978: 2-3). The Pentagon
gave up control of the Internet in 1984.
With the invention of the World Wide Web, the Internet has become a highly
commercialized, corporate-dominated multi-communication sphere; the virtual
walled domain, par excellence, of global commerce and capitalist economics
(Schiller, 1999). The security role of the Internet evolved with its
evolution as a
civilian instrument. As legitimate businesses, financial services industry,
government departments, schools, universities and countless other institutions
moved online, news online threat emerged: cyber crime and cyber terrorism,
obscenity, child pornography and other anti-social activities.
security, operationalized as confidentiality, integrity and
availability of the
visible and invisible aspects of the Internet–computers, databases,
the like–has become crucial to the very existence of the information society
(Pfleeger and Pfleeger, 2002). Governments and law enforcement agencies in
both democratic and authoritarian countries soon created Internet units to
monitor criminal activity, intercept child pornography, and protect national
security from online threats.
Very soon, commerce and communication on this stateless, global space was
became hobbled by conflicting and sometimes contradictory regulations enacted
by nations around the globe who wanted to either control Internet content, put
their particular political, legal and cultural stamp on it, or limit
its reach into
their jurisdictions.(Eko, 2001). Countries around the world also
surveillance systems to monitor and control ideologically, politically,
socially or culturally objectionable material on the Internet, in the name of
national security. Additionally, surveillance involves the
collection, analysis and
storage of demographic information about individuals. This enables
the state to
maintain bureaucratic, political, and ideological control over its citizens
(Samoriski, 2002: 144). Three of the major countries of the world–the United
States, the Russian Federation and China– have erected distinct and unique
Internet regulatory and surveillance regimes that serve national security, law
enforcement, political, ideological, cultural and social needs.
The aim of this article is to compare and contrast the Internet surveillance
systems of the United States, the Russian Federation, and the
of China. The comparison was carried out within the framework of an Internet
regulatory typology advanced by Eko (2001). The unit of comparison was be the
nation state. The United States, the Russian Federation and China
of comparability. The United States is the sole, remaining superpower which
invented the Internet and continues to dominate its governance. The Russian
Federation is the successor state of the former Soviet Union, with whom the
United States had a 50-year geopolitical Cold War. China is a rising world
power. It's booming economy and huge population make it a force to recon with
on the international stage. The article will demonstrate that the Internet
surveillance activities and policies of the three countries reflect
conceptualization of the role of the Internet in their political,
social, cultural and
II. Theoretical Perspective: The Eko Typology of Internet Regulation.
Most countries of the world regulate the segments of the Internet within their
jurisdictions under the framework of their political, social,
and moral values. The result is a wide range of Internet regulatory postures
around the world. Eko (2001) has constructed a five-part typology
and compares the wide array of Internet regulatory postures around the globe.
Typologies are classificatory schemes or approaches that attempt to elaborate
complex natural or man-made phenomena, processes, and rituals thereby
facilitating their systematic analysis and explanation. As such, they
frameworks for organizing specific fields of knowledge and experience.
McKinney (1966) describes the constructed type or typology as an appropriate
tool that is "developed for descriptive, comparative and predictive purposes"
(p.12). In sum, the Internet typology is an intellectual clothesline
on which the
differential, even contrasting fabrics of Internet regulatory regimes
can be hung
The most well-known typology in mass media research is the four-part
typology of the press advanced by media scholars Siebert, Peterson, and
Schramm (1956). They argued that due to political, ideological or
reasons, the press always takes on the coloration of the social and political
structures within which it operates. Under their influential and much-used
typology, the press can, generally speaking, be classified into four models,
namely: 1) The Authoritarian model, which obtains in dictatorial
countries, 2) the
Communist model which was the system in operation in the Soviet Union and
other Marxist countries, 3) the Libertarian model under which the press is a
watchdog of the public interest against governmental, corporate and individual
excesses, and 4) the social responsibility model where the media are
by a few nonpartisan governmental entities responsible to the public
This typology was rendered obsolete in the 1990s. In effect, the fall of the
Berlin Wall in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and
the end of the
Cold War, led to the transformation of the Internet. It evolved from
"system of systems" (National Telecommunications and Information
Administration, 1978), to a virtual, multi-communication platform
that spans the
globe, and became available to computer users in all countries of the world,
including the Russian Federation, the successor state of the Soviet
offensive military capabilities it was originally designed to thwart.
The Eko Internet regulatory typology furnishes a means by which the
disparate emerging Internet regulatory regimes around the world can,
to use the
words of McKinney (1966), "be compared, potentially measured, and
comprehended within a system of general categories…developed to comprise
the types" (p.12). The five-part Internet regulatory typology is as follows:.
The International or Multilateralist model is exemplified by United Nations
resolutions regarding child pornography on the Internet (UN Convention on the
Rights of the Child, 2000; ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 2002),
intellectual property treaties under WIPO, as well as the popularization of
electronic commerce and electronic signatures under the auspices of the United
Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL, 1996, UNCITRAL
2001). The Neo-Merchantilist or e-commerce model describes the free market
political and economic philosophy of the United States. It is a
that encapsulates several classic capitalist principles–the market
place of ideas,
laissez-faire economics, free trade and the free flow of information,
services (Eko, 2001). The culturalist model describes the cultural
postures of governments which enact Internet laws and policies rooted in their
political, aesthetic, cultural, and moral values (Eko, 2001).
Under the Gateway model of Internet regulation a government or a
governmental agency serves as the de facto or de jure gateway to the Internet.
Consequently, access to online media is granted or denied in the name of
national security, culture, morality or some other governmental interest. This
model is most evident in countries with authoritarian or semi-authoritarian
regimes (Kalathil and Boas, 2003; Eko 2001). The thinking behind the gateway
model is that the Internet is an electronic conveyor belt for Western
and debauchery, which, if allowed into certain countries unimpeded, would
infect their religions, political systems and cultures. The Developmentalist
model of Internet regulatory conceptualizes the Internet as an instrument for
development in the emerging economies of the developing world (Eko, 2001).
While these models influence the regulatory postures of many countries, the
question arises whether they apply to, or influence the Internet surveillance
systems of major countries. This study analyzed American, Russian and Chinese
Internet surveillance activities and policies within the framework of the Eko
In view of the fact that the United States and the Soviet Union and
out extensive Internet surveillance activities for national security and other
governmental interests, the research questions that guided the study were as
1. How do the United States, the Russian Federation, and China monitor the
Internet for objectionable content?
2. Do these Internet surveillance activities conform with their respective
political, ideological and institutional postures?
In order to answer these questions, the unclassified Internet surveillance
activities of the United States, the Russian Federation, and China were
compared and contrasted. This study is significant because it contributes to
theory building through the exploration of linkages between political
ideologies and Internet surveillance regimes and political control.
ii. Internet surveillance in the United States:
The United States has a capitalist, free market economy. As the creator
and de facto controller of the architecture of the Internet, the
United States has
applied its capitalist, free-market, ideology to the "new economy" of
medium (Burnett & Marshall 2003). The Clinton Administration
(Clinton and Gore, 1997) conceptualized the Internet as an open market place,
and set the tone for global electronic commerce. The administration
governments around the world to assume a minimalist regulatory posture
towards the Internet and electronic commerce. The posture of the Clinton
Administration towards the Internet has been described as neo-merchantilist
(Eko 2001). This neo-merchantilist laissez-faire Internet regulatory
American libertarian principles, namely, First Amendment protection of speech
and expression (Reno v. ACLU 1997), free trade, the market place of
v. U.S. 1919), as well as the free flow of goods and services. The
framework essentially globalized America's capitalist, neo-liberal free-market
values (Monge and Contractor, 2003 :142). Additionally, the framework was
aimed at creating a seamless global economy where a fluid exchange of goods,
services, information, intellectual property products, and capital.
However, the post-September 11 period has seen a significant shift in the
overall philosophy that has guided Internet regulation and monitoring of
Internet traffic in the United States. National security has become paramount.
From a this perspective, the United States can be classified as a
country which has global electronic outposts to monitor threats to national
security. The United States can now be said to have an Internet surveillance
system that is a mix of First Amendment principles and the supremacy of the
nation-state.. The rights of the individual to privacy and
unregulated access to
means of communication are overtaken by the exigencies of protecting
and its citizens.
During the Cold War, the United States had developed technologies such
as Echelon, which was used for global surveillance of all kinds of
communication. Echelon is an array of satellites, radio antennas, and
supercomputing stations in the United States, the United Kingdom, New
Zealand, Australia, and Canada. It has the ability to capture data
fiber-optic, microwave and even cellular communication (de Bony, 2000, Keefe,
The National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States that runs the
Echelon program has provided very little information about this classified
system. Even the details and oversight regulations are shrouded in
the cloud of
national security. Even though the ACLU and other organization have
questioned the use Echelon to monitor communication within the United States,
there have not been any specific complaint with regards to invasion
of privacy in
American Courts (See Wired News, Nov. 17, 1999). A major characteristic of
Echelon is that it does not block or stop the communication flow. It
used as a tool to monitor communication traffic. In this sense it is
not really 'a
gateway' but an 'out post'. Using filtering technologies and de-encryption
technologies, it eavesdrops and watches out for criminal, terrorist, and other
activities that are seen as threat to national security.
The Echelon system was initially used to monitor voice data but it was
expanded to include text data such as e-mails, faxes, and telex
messages in the
late 1990s (Hagar, 1996, Keefe, 2005). With listening stations around
and in the United States, all the messages traveling through global
communication networks is picked and fed into powerful computers that scan
them for some key words and numbers that could be indications of possible
threats to American and global security.
In 2000, the Parliament of the European Union instituted a commission to
inquiry whether Echelon infringed on the privacy rights of its citizens. The
Temporary Committee on the Echelon Interception System submitted its report
in 2004. The committee concluded that the privacy clause in Article 8 of
European Convention on Human Rights permitted surveillance for national
security purposes. However, it expressed concerns about Echelon's
commercial intelligence, which could affect the competitiveness of European
companies. The Committee advised member countries to negotiate rules that
would regulate such monitoring.
To protect against eavesdropping and to ensure the privacy of
communication, many organizations, especially large corporations in Europe and
other parts of the world, have started using encryption technology. Since the
United States is the leading producer of encryption technologies, the
has attempted to control export of such technologies in the name of national
security (Gaither, 1997). Encryption technology makes it difficult
for Echelon and
other surveillance systems to read messages that are coded. American companies
opposing this export ban argue that such a ban is an infringement on
Amendment Rights. Encryption technologies are essentially seen as software and
there are different interpretations as to the application of "free
speech" rules to
In order to monitor communication by terrorist organizations around the
world, the FBI installed a packet-sniffing, e-mail monitoring software called
Carnivore/DCS1000 in the servers of Intern Service Providers (ISPs)
in 2000. The
software collects header data on e-mail mail messages but not the body of the
messages (Pfleeger & Pfleeger, 2003). If Carnivore found traffic in
which the FBI
was interested, and had probable cause, the FBI would apply to a court for a
search warrant. Only after the FBI had obtained the search warrant
can it begin
to monitor and record the content of e-mail messages between specific, named
senders and receivers (Pfleeger & Pfleeger, 2003). Neverthless, since
was kept secret, when news of its existence reached the press, there was an up
roar. The FBI told Congress that Carnivore did indeed sniff on the
header data of
e-mails in the stream of Internet traffic, but it used only data that
it was lawfully
authorized to obtain.
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the issue of
has taken on a new urgency in the United States. The Homeland Security Act of
2003 changed the judicial review procedures of in the Privacy Act of
protects citizens against governmental monitoring and surveillance. This has
raised some concerns (See AP News Report, Feb 25, 2005). Since then, the FBI
and other government agencies have been working on technologies such as
Magic Lantern and Total Information Awareness to monitor the heading of email
traffic. This has led to expressions of concern on the part of
privacy and free
speech advocates, to the effect that these technologies violate
(Keefe, 2005). In a statement to Congress, the FBI informed lawmakers that had
stopped using the Carnivore software and that it had switched to a
available software that it uses only after obtaining proper judicial
to carry to monitor Internet communications (AP News Report, Jan 18, 2005).
Internet regulation and surveillance policy in the United States is
The system does not allow a systematic, blanket monitoring of all
Internet traffic or all e-mail traffic. Internet surveillance is
carried out under a
specific judicial review process and for specific national security
system allows the government to remove impediments to the free flow of ideas,
goods, and services on the Internet. Governmental surveillance, is
carried out for
national security reasons but it is done within the context of
judicial review. The
fact that the controversial Carnivore packet-sniffing software developed by
government agencies was dropped by FBI in favor of a commercially available
system developed in the private sector, suggest that the FBI is
sensitive to public
opinion and to the political implications of its e-mail monitoring system.
iii. Internet Surveillance in the Russian Federation: GOST encryption system.
Due to its authoritarian Tsarist and communist past, Russia has always had a
culture of centralized governmental information and telecommunications control
for purposes of surveillance. The Soviet Union had a highly centralized,
authoritarian mass media system controlled by the Soviet Communist Party. The
role of the media was to further class struggle, "democratic
against capitalism and imperialism, mobilize and agitate the masses within the
framework of Marxist-Leninist ideology, and spread ideological propaganda not
only within the country but also around the world (Mendel et al.
Benn, 1992; Ebon, 1987:3; Siebert et al. 1956). In the field of
economics, the Soviet
Union had a highly centralized, command and control, top-down, economy run
according to the Marxist dogma of the abolition of private property
In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became the General Secretary of the Communist
Party of the Soviet Union. He launched a political strategy, which he called
perestroika (radical reform or restructuring). This policy included
or glasnost (Lane 1992, 13). An August 1991 coup d'etat attempt
was a turning point in the history of the Soviet Union. It revealed
the existence of
a hitherto unknown Russian computer network, namely, Relcom/Demos
(Rohozinski 2000). In effect, as a result of the failure by the
Soviet Union to have
a unified network of computers across the country, computer programmers
working for research, educational and even military institutions created
Relcom/Demos, an unofficial computer network based on the Unix operating
system–obtained through clandestine sources–but running on Soviet mainframe
computers (Rohozinski 2000: 336). This unofficial network had electronic mail,
access to news groups and by 1990, had established unofficial
This is the famous network that computer programmers used to transmit
messages across the Soviet Union during the failed coup d'etat. Relcom/Demos
allowed Boris Yeltsin to e-mail information rejecting the coup to all
parts of the
Soviet Union from his refuge in the Russian parliament (Rohozinski,
For its part, the KGB unsuccessfully used traditional information channels to
promote the coup. The unofficial Relcom/Demos network helped thwart the
uprising and spelled the doom of the Soviet Union.
The Russian government is essentially the gateway to the Internet for
residents of that country: Internet Service Providers are required to
obtain licenses from the Ministry of Communications and Informatics. The law
requires all telecommunications businesses: cyber cafés, e-mail services, call
centers and the like be registered (Law No. N15-FA on Telecommunications
1995). Additionally, under the Law of the Russian Federation Concerning the
Mass Media ( Law No. 2124-1,1991), teletext, video text and other networked
telecommunications services are classified as media of mass communication that
need licenses to operate. Therefore, all Web sites in the .ru (Russian) domain
have to be registered (for a fee) with the Ministry of Press,
Broadcasting, and Means of Mass Communication. Additionally, the law
stipulates that if an Internet site communicates information to more
than a 1,000
addresses, it is considered an organ of mass information for
Thus, Russia's Internet regulatory policies clearly exemplify the gateway
model. Indeed, Russia has brought the .ru segment of the Internet within the
ambit of its traditional system of centralized control of information and
communications. Monopolistic and oligopolistic state-owned national and local
telephone companies control the gateways to the Internet. Private Internet
Service Providers (ISPs) are obliged to purchase network services from these
government-owned telephone companies, some of which are ISPs themselves.
Additionally, in 1995, the Federal Security Bureau (FSB), the successor of the
KGB's domestic service, was given statutory authority to require all Russian
communication service providers to install (at their own expense) surveillance
hardware and software called "SORM" (System for Investigations and Field
Operations). This technology routes all Internet traffic in Russia through FSB
facilities, ostensibly for law enforcement purposes (Rohozinski 2000,
2004). In 1998, a more advanced telecommunications and Internet surveillance
system, SORM-2, was introduced by the Federal Security Bureau (FSB). The FSB
does not need judicial authorization to monitor communications in the country
(Nivat 2001). Human rights groups claim that the deployment of the SORM and
SORM-2 systems–despite a court order invalidating parts of the law that
required their installation– in addition to the required registration of all
telecommunications businesses and web sites, shows that the Russia Federation
is still something of a police state (Ivanov, 2004).
Electronic Signature Regulation in the Russian Federation
Another Internet regulatory sector that demonstrates that the government
is essentially the gatekeeper to the Internet for the .ru (Russian)
is electronic signatures. These unique strings of numbers or characters, or a
combination of both that are linked to another series of numbers generated
through complex mathematical algorithms or operations that are made possible
by encryption technology (Passman, 2003). Russia enacted the Federal Law on
Digital Electronic Signatures (Law No. 1 F-Z, 2002) ostensibly to regulate the
usage and verification of electronic signatures in e-commerce, and to
security of computers, networks and databases.
The main characteristic of the law is that it mandates electronic
the .ru domain to use the Soviet-era governmental Public-Key Digital Signature
Algorithm called Gosudarstvennyi Standard Soyuza SSR (GOST), which means
"Government Standard of the Union od Soviet Socialist Republics" (Schneier,
1996: 331). This encryption system was first published by the National Soviet
Bureau of Standards in 1989. It was designed to be mathematically
to ensure (national) communication security (Charnes, O'Connor, Pieprzyk,
Safavi-Naini, & Zheng, 2003; Schneier, 1996). One of the features of the GOST
Digital Signature Algorithm is that it contains a substantial amount of secret
information that enables the "central authority," (the government) to
encryption, if need be, and eavesdrop on messages in the stream of electronic
commerce and other forms of electronic communication (Charnes et al, p.435).
Thus, by definition, Russia recognizes only its government created and
mandated GOST Public-key infrastructure or "key recovery" cryptographic
system (Schneier, 1996).
At face value, the 2002 digital signature law is aimed at creating a
enabling legal environment for the use of digital signatures in electronic
communication such that electronic signatures become the functional equivalent
of physical, handwritten signatures (Law No. 1F-Z, 2002: art. 1). However, the
Soviet-era design of the GOST encryption system, which this law makes the
official and only legal encryption system in the Russian Federation,
that governmental control, access to, and surveillance of electronic
communication was one of the paramount aims of the law. Actually, in 1995, a
Russian presidential decree had banned the use of encryption algorithms or
devices that were not examined and certified by the country's national security
body, the Agency for Government Communications and Information
(Rohozinski 2000: 334). Furthermore, the importation or exportation of
encryption hardware and software into or out of the Russian Federation without
a license is against the law (Madsen et al. 1998: 475).
According to Abelson et al (1998), key recovery encryption essentially assures
third party (governmental) access to the plaintext of encrypted data.
recovery cryptographic systems like the Soviet-era GOST virtually guarantee
governmental access to encrypted data. While cryptography is relied upon to
protect global computing and communications systems as well as individual
privacy in the use of ubiquitous equipment like automatic teller machines and
cellular telephone communications, it is not without its drawbacks.
Abelson et al
(1998) did not recommend the centralized government-controlled key-recovery
infrastructure because they thought it was incompatible with democratic
governance, as well as with large scale, economical, secure cryptographic
Such considerations did not enter into Russia's decision to mandate GOST for
use on the .ru domain. This may be because as technologies diffuse to
with different political, social, cultural, and historical
experiences, they are given
what Jon Guice calls "new ideas, intentions, purposes, and contexts of use in
different times and places, for different people and groups" (Guice
Russia's governmental information control reflex is an old tradition that
Rohozinski (2000) calls the "communication/control pathology" (p. 334-335).
According to him, the Internet has not changed Russia; Russia has changed the
Internet. The country has succeeded in molding the Internet (at least
that part of
it within its jurisdiction) into its image. Furthermore, Rohozinski
Russia has colonized Internet technology and made it perform some of
and political activities that used to be performed in the
pre-Internet Soviet era.
IV. Communist Internet Control and Surveillance: The Great Firewall of
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) established a Stalinist regime in
China in 1949. Thereafter, all Chinese media became state-owned.
Their role is to
be "the throat and mouthpiece of the Party" (Kalathil & Boas, 2003).
After the socalled
"Reforming and Opening" in 1979, the Chinese government gave up
Mao's command economy and embraced a market economy. The government
however kept its authoritarian political system (Wu, 2001). The
hybrid system of
authoritarian government and market economy forced the Chinese government
to redefine the social role of the Chinese media. It kept the old
slogan: "the throat
and mouthpiece of the Party" and gave it additional responsibilities.
spelled out in the phrase "the tool to promote economic development" (Kalathil
& Boas, 2003). Chinese government's regulation and control of Internet content
operates within this mixed political-economic context.
The Internet was first introduced in China in 1993 and developed rapidly.
By April 2002, China had the second largest at-home Internet user population
after the United States. That number jumped from 2,000 in 1993 to 56.6 million
2002. This number does not include the number of Chinese who access the
Internet through public computers. It was estimated that the number
users in China could reach 200 million by 2005.
The Chinese Information and Communication Technology industry (ICT)
expands at three times the rate of the overall economy (Hachigian, 2001). The
Chinese government's fundamental Internet policy is summarized by this slogan:
"Driving industrialization with informatization."(US Department of Commerce,
2001). Despite the huge growth in Internet user numbers, and in the Internet
industry, "Reporters Without Borders" (2004) continued to place China on the
list of "Enemies of the Internet." As Kalathil and Boas (2003) point out, the
Chinese government has tried to use the Internet to promote the
economy. It has
also muzzled it in order to keep it from it threatening the
authoritarian rule of
the Chinese Communist Party.
The Ministry of Information Industry (MII), which is in charge of
telecommunications and Internet sector in China, has licensed only
companies and governmental agencies to be the interconnecting network
services providers in China. Five of them, China Telecom, China Unicom, China
Netcom, Jitong Telecom and China Mobile are authorized to provide nationwide
commercial services. Only two of these service providers, China Telecom
and China Unicom, are authorized to provide international links to global
network (Fan, 2005). Although privately-owned Internet Service Providers (ISP)
and Internet Content Provider (ICP) are allowed to poerate in China, they must
operate through the five governmental commercial networks. They can have
access to the Internet only through China Telecom or China Unicom. This
effectively creates a large China-wide intranet –a huge communications
bottleneck called the "Great Firewall of China"–which has only a few
nodes or gateways connected to the Internet (Deibert, 2002). State
control of Internet connectivity is the Chinese government's method
surveillance and content control. As the gateway to the Internet for
the Chinese government can monitor and trace all information transmitted and
received in its national territory, and block any ISP or ICP that
fails to comply
with the rules or cooperate with government censors.
Since eight state-owned companies and governmental agencies control all
telecommunication networks and Internet services, the Chinese government has
used the huge market of the country as a bait to attract Western high
companies to procure the network security technologies they develop to build
"the Great Firewall of China" or the "Golden Shield project" as it is
called. In effect, Cisco Systems, Nortel Network, and other Western ICT
companies designed the Chinese router systems that can monitor and intercept
information and conduct keyword searches for objectionable Web sites. These
Western companies also deployed the firewall technologies that block
sensitive websites through recognition of their addresses (Shie,
Besides physically and electronically controlling the interconnecting
networks within the country, the Chinese government has enacted laws
regulating Internet content. In China, Websites can be privately owned.
However, under a law promulgated in 2000, all ISPs and ICPs must receive
approval from the network providers for all material distributed on their
Websites. The only material that can be published on Web sites without prior
approval is information that has already been publicly distributed through the
government-controlled traditional media (Shie, 2004). This regulation
brought all online news distribution services under tight government control.
The Chinese government often alludes to the need to ensure the healthy
development of the Internet industry as the justification for its
content (Endeshaw, 2004). A 1996 "Provisional Directive on the Management of
International Connections by Computer Information Networks in the Peoples
Republic of China," provides guidelines for the use of the Internet.
It lists as
illegal, any information that is "detrimental to the honor and
interests of the
state", "subverts the government", "undermines national unification"
stability" among other illegal content (Shie, 2004). This law and
others like it are
vague and ambiguous in their definition of what constitutes detrimental or
subversive information. This gives government officials maximum personal
discretion in deciding what content is legal or illegal.
This law and others like it make Web-users responsible for the content
they produce, send, and accesses; effectively shifting the burden of
and from government to ISPs and Internet users themselves (Endeshaw, 2004).
Another law promulgated in 2000 requires all ISPs and ICPs in China to keep
records of the personal information of all subscribers for at least
two months, and
be prepared turn it over to the government on demand. A 2002 regulation
requires all ISPs and ICPs in China to install software that archives
sent and received by users, and automatically forwards any sensitive message
found to the Ministry of Information Industry, the Ministry of Public Security
(MPS), and the Bureau for the Protection of State Secrets (BPSS) (Shie 2004).
Internet Service Providers within China that are identified as lax in
monitoring users' activities, as well as being tolerant to
information" are either shut down permanently or temporarily and forced to
improve their control mechanisms before being allowed to re-open.
a 1999 regulation makes it compulsory for all Internet cafes in China
to check and
record users' identification card numbers. According to the 2004
annual report of
"Reporters without Borders" (2004), at least 50 "cyberdissidents"
were put in jail
that year for calling for democracy or for denouncing human rights
abuses on the
part of the Chinese government. In 2005, all Chinese universities' BBS were
closed to off-campus users and all on-campus users are required to
post in their real names rather than their nicknames, as was the case before
(Voice of Germany, 2005). Some 30,000 cyber-police officers keep patrol the
Intranet at all times, monitoring and deleting offensive and objectionable
information. Individuals who create, access or spread such information risk
being penalized or arrested (Endshew 2004). Although some Internet users in
China have used counter-filtering technologies and anti-blocking software to
penetrate the On-line Great Firewall, the tough regulatory measures and severe
penalties that are imposed on those who breech the firewall deter
and force them to practice self-censorship. (Lacharite 2002),
Chinese government's censorship of Internet content applies not only to
domestic ISPs and ICPs but also to the foreign Internet companies. Since the
Chinese government controls the international gateway linking China and the
outside world, it creates a "rent-seeking" phenomenon, in which foreign ISPs
and ICPs are required to pay the rent of political compromise in exchange for
market entry. The foreign ISPs and ICPs refusing the deal, like many major
Western news websites, human rights websites, oversea Chinese dissident
websites, searching engines, etc. are completely blocked out. The foreign ISPs
who agree to self-censor and delete the information "undesirable" to Chinese
government can enjoy both the entries into and the exclusion of their
from the huge Chinese market. This was fully illustrated by the
different fates of
Yahoo! and Goggle in China (Elgin, 2004; Russell, 2004).
The Chinese government's censorship of Internet content goes beyond
promulgating public laws and administrative rules. The government also issues
secret orders. The Central Propaganda Ministry (CPM), which is the highest
institute for ideological control in China, can prohibit the coverage
discussions of any topic by issuing secret orders or even calling the managers
and editors of the media outlet and ordering them to cease and desist without
any explanation or legal rationale. Often, when a criminal case or
exposed by the media and becomes the subject of online discussions, the
criminals or corrupted officials involved bribe or influence Central
Ministry officials to issue orders banning further coverage and
discussion of the
matter (Jiao, 2004).
The Chinese Internet regulatory and surveillance regime is essentially a
mixture of the gateway and developmentalist models. In general, the Chinese
government's regulations of Internet content reflects the
concerted efforts to maintain its absolute power, and its desire to
and communication technologies to develop its economy. The rapid economic
development of China strengthens the government's capacity to carry out
Internet surveillance. Economic forces also put pressure on the government to
allow a more transparent and free information flow.
V. Comparisons & Conclusions
Since the ultimate goal of surveillance is control, this study shows that even
in the age of globalization, where geography was supposed to be history, the
nation-state is still very present in the lives of its citizens. The
Russia and China carry our Internet surveillance and control within the frame
work of their respective political economic, social and cultural systems. The
surveillance systems of the three countries were compared within the framework
of the Eko Internet regulatory typology. It was found that the United
be classified as a neo-merchantilist country which regulates the
the framework of its First Amendment free speech regime. As a result
surveillance activities are carried out under judicial supervision. Law
enforcement officials are allowed to use data sniffing software to monitor the
subject heading of e-mails. They can only read the body of the e-mail
if they can
show probable cause and obtain a search warrant from a court. The potential
danger in the American system is corporate monitoring and archiving of the
private information of citizens for commercial gain.
By way of contrast, the Russian government has installed software, SORM2
that monitors and reads all Internet traffic received or sent from
territory of the Russian Federation. This effectively makes the government the
physical gateway to the Internet for Russians. Additionally, Russia's law on
digital electronic signatures mandates a specific Soviet-era, government
developed encryption technology, GOST. This technology is designed to enable
the government to snoop on data in the stream of electronic commerce. GOST
reinforces the role of the Russian government as the gateway to the Internet.
China has a mixed Internet regulatory and surveillance model. The country's
authoritarian communist government is the gateway to the Internet for its 1.3
billion people. The government has created a national Intranet system
by the so-called Great Online Firewall. In order to carry out
of the online activities of its citizens, as well as keep out ideologically
objectionable material, the only two governmental companies are allowed to link
to the Internet. However, China also has a policy of using information,
communication technologies to accelerate economic development. As such it is
also a developmentalist regulator of the Internet. At some point,
both goals are
contradictory. Economic development requires the free flow of information and
data while gateway regulatory policies restrict the flow of data.
Only time will
tell if the two models can co-exist in the same country.
This study used the Eko Internet typology to analyze the surveillance systems
of the three countries. It was found that each country's attitude
content, the individual privacy right of its citizens, and their
right to freely access
material on the Internet, reflected its political system and legal culture.
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