Chinese academic wins censorship case


A CHINESE academic has successfully sued an internet company for closing his website after he posted articles on subjects including corruption and environmental issues.

Hu Xingdou, professor of economics at the Beijing Institute of Technology, said he hoped his case would encourage other users to protect their rights and internet censors to make decisions more responsibly.

“I was surprised when I won. In the past, there have been people suing like me, but either the court did not take the case or they failed. This is the first successful case in China of a netizen or internet user suing their internet service provider,” Prof Hu said.

“Some have said it is only an individual case which has met with an open-minded judge. But I don’t think so, though an open-minded judge may have played a part. Before the case started, it was widely reported by the media. The court must know clearly how significant the case is so the judgment must be a result decided after a group discussion. I consider it [a mark of] the progress of our legal system.”

He now plans to sue the authorities who ordered the internet service provider to act, but predicts his case will be thrown out. “It is a shame that the supervisor can currently define any information as illegal as there are not developed laws about this.”

Prof Hu said the Beijing New Web Digital Information Technology Company closed his site in March on the grounds it contained illegal content. He moved it to another provider, but decided to sue his former ISP. Last week the Beijing Daxing district people’s court ruled in his favour.

But he added: “The case does include political elements, for behind the company is the net supervisor from Suzhou.” Prof Hu and his former ISP is based in Beijing. But the academic said the company told him that because net censors are part of the Public Security Bureau, their jurisdiction was not restricted by region. He believes the censors stepped in because he posted an article about media coverage of algae in a lake in Jiangsu province, where Suzhou is located. – ( Guardian service)