China loosens internet restrictions for World Internet Conference

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Beijing has decided to relax its restrictive firewall for the upcoming World Internet Conference that will be held in Wuzhen from November 19 to 21, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Although the event will see top officials from local internet giants like Alibaba and Tencent rub shoulders with the leaders of SoftBank, LinkedIn and other multinational tech firms, only the attendees can take advantage of the uncensored web access.

These lucky individuals will be able to open their Facebook accounts, tweet to their heart’s content, Google politically sensitive news and even watch the student demonstration in Hong Kong via YouTube.

The Chinese government normally restricts access to Western news portals and social media sites, but it relaxes its iron grip over the internet for participants of major international forums.

One case in point is the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting held at Beijing in early November, wherein attendees were permitted to access banned websites like Twitter and Facebook at the event’s media centre.

However, it is a different story outside of the conference as Beijing has intensified its control over the internet. Censors started targeting portals streamed via the EdgeCast network, which is operated by Verizon Communications.

The network is used by Greatfire.org – an advocacy group against internet censorship – to host mirror sites that let users in mainland China access censored websites.

“This should make for some uncomfy moments at the conference,” said Greatfire’s Founder Charlie Smith, who uses a false name for security reasons.


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