An OpenNet Initiative (ONI) bulletin released this week says that mandatory website registration in China induces self-censorship.

Starting March 20, 2005, China's Ministry of Information Industry (MII) has required that all non-commercial websites must register with the MII or face significant penalties.

By August 2005, China's MII reported that over 90% of covered websites had been registered. ONI says anecdotal examinations of such websites indicates fewer registrations.

In a report published last year, "Internet Filtering in China: 2004-2005," ONI says China's filtering is the most extensive, technologically sophisticated, and broad-reaching Internet filtering system in the world.

ONI says this new regulation does not rely on sophisticated filtering technology, but uses the threat of surveillance and legal sanction to pressure bloggers and website owners into self-censorship.

ONI is a collaborative partnership between the University of Toronto, Harvard University, Oxford University, and Cambridge University.

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