China 'breaking internet freedom vow'
Friday, 01 August 2008

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will launch an inquiry into internet censorship in China after accusations that Beijing was failing to live up to its promises guaranteeing unrestricted online access, reports The Independent.

Furious reporters are finding that their internet access is inadequate. Attempts to use the network to access the website of Amnesty International, which has just released a damning report on human rights in China, proved fruitless yesterday.

There was also an embarrassing moment for the Chinese when one journalist whipped out his laptop at a news conference to show how sites including the BBC's China service fell foul of the Great Firewall of China. Suggestions that it was a technical problem were laughed off.

China has promised to allow the 20,000 accredited journalists the same working conditions they enjoyed at previous Games.

The IOC's press chief, Kevin Gosper, said he would investigate any apparent efforts to interfere with the reporters doing their jobs.

Beijing promised to suspend its usual programme of monitoring, which slows down the internet, and call off the tens of thousands of spooks blocking emails, monitoring websites and reporting back to superiors.

But the government line appears to have shifted. A leading official said that foreign journalists can enjoy "regular" access to the internet, but that did not mean total freedom.

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