Friday, 22 August 2008

iTuning out: The CCP has had enough of listening

This article from The Oz:

APPLE'S online music store, iTunes, has been blocked in China after more than 40 Olympic athletes downloaded a pro-Tibet album from the site.Consumers in China began inundating Apple help forums on Monday, saying that they could not access iTunes. Earlier on the same day the US-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) announced that 46 athletes from America, Europe and even Beijing had used the site to download Songs for Tibet, which had been offered to them free.
The disappearance of iTunes behind the “Great Firewall” of China comes in the midst of the Beijing Olympics when the Government promised free and unfettered internet access for journalists. While it has lifted blocks on some sites, many are still inaccessible. IT analysts said there was no doubt that the store had been blocked and that it was not merely experiencing a technical fault. Apple acknowledged that there was a problem but refused to comment. Yuna Huang, the company’s Beijing publicist, said: “We’ve seen the situation but can’t offer any more information.” The censorship could backfire.
Mr Wohl said that since the iTunes site had gone down many people in Beijing, including athletes, had asked for the album. “Obviously there are a million different ways of getting an album to somebody,” he said.

What a great example of shooting oneself in the foot. Joe 爱国 is never going to be interested in a load of western imperialist claptrap such as an album with the title of "Songs for Tibet." You may as well give a southern redneck the best of Enya. The only people who will be listening to this kind of thing will be idealistic members of the international community. As such, the Net Nanny is therefore displaying an extraordinary amount of pettiness trying to control what information foreigners have access to. And like so many things that have happened during these Games, they have created two stories worthy of international attention out of one. Originally, there was just a story about an album. Now there is a story about an album and how it was blocked - much more interesting and newsworthy.

But probably the most disturbing thing is the fact that "boycotting Apple" over this ridiculously trivial matter has already rasied its murky one-eyed head. If this nitpicking pettiness is going to be a recurring theme every time a multinational stops calling black white because Chinese netizens and the Government say so, then I can't see too many companies taking a moral stand in the face of the market. But having said that, considering how quickly the Carrefour "boycott" died down earlier this year, it seems apart from making a loud noise about it the average Chinese person doesn't care enough to let these kinds of things stand in the way of their purchasing decisions. Which is a good thing. Chinese consumers, I have some faith in you.

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