Silence Is Golden: China Tightens Screws on Online Music

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By Reuters

China is tightening control of online music, paying particular attention to content and jacking up already tight censorship of the Internet.

From Jan. 1, companies offering online music should police content before making it available, the Ministry of Culture said on its website. China's three biggest Internet companies, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Tencent Holdings Ltd and Baidu Inc all have music streaming platforms.

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This edict is the latest strike in a multi-year campaign to "cleanse" both the Internet and culture more broadly of material the ruling Communist Party might deem a threat to China's stability. The country already operates what experts say is one of the world's most sophisticated online censorship mechanisms.

Baidu declined to comment. Alibaba and Tencent were not available for immediate comment.

The self-censorship system for music mirrors those currently in place at Internet companies, which employ large teams to scour the firms' websites and apps and eradicate sensitive material.

Academics and censorship experts say the self-policing, with punitive measures for failure to remove "harmful" content, encourages companies and individuals to be conservative and censor more than may be necessary, in order to avoid punishment.

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