China aims to sanitize its internet in time for New Year, Winter Olympics

The news: The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) announced its spring-cleaning plans and wants banned, controversial, and inappropriate content scrubbed from its internet.

What this means: Beijing has been cracking down on China’s Big Tech companies as well as tightening oversight over internet businesses. Government scrutiny is now focused on internet content in time for Chinese New Year next week and ahead of the Winter Olympic Games hosted in Beijing next month, per The Register.

  • Violent content, fake news, and rumors are high on the list of content that will be scrubbed from servers. Vulgar content, teen idols, and infomercials promoting overconsumption are the focus of regulatory scrutiny and possible removal.
  • The CAC is also ordering webmasters to stop pop-up ads and make sure homepages are working properly and presenting a positive vibe.
  • Beijing recently banned cryptocurrencies, and the Great Firewall of China has also resulted in various social media and internet companies retreating from the country.
  • Top-down government intervention and its many mandates reflect a wider ideological crackdown that’s now accelerated as the world focuses its attention on China. 

The opportunity: Censorship aside, a mandated scrubbing and tightening up of China’s internet could result in faster website access and performance as well as the removal of terabytes of online bloat. This would be the largest collective attempt to clean up and update a country’s internet.

The problem: What stays or what goes is under the sole discretion of the CAC, and this could include various forums for frank discussion, reporting government abuses, and any opportunity for a free and open internet.

The takeaway: Chinese New Year as well as the upcoming Winter Olympics could be the perfect opportunity for Beijing to clamp down on China’s internet and reshape it to better adhere to its ideologies, further sealing off unwanted international online influence.

Dig deeper: Read this report on how Big Tech companies have responded to crackdowns and left the Chinese online market entirely.