Chinese Authorities Shut Down BitTorrent Sites

During the last two years the Chinese government has taken an aggressive stance against video sites they claim damage children's health or undermine national security. In the last month they have taken further action, this time taking down several BitTorrent sites for operating without an appropriate government license.

In January 2008, China’s State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT) announced new regulations which stipulated that websites offering video had to have appropriate licensing and certification from the government.

Following the announcement came a two month investigation to ensure that sites were complying with the new rules – inevitably some fell foul. In March the authorities announced that dozens of websites would face penalties or be shut down for broadcasting material described as obscene, violent or fear-inspiring, or that could be detrimental to national security. Many were punished for simply not having the appropriate government certification.

Around a year later the government flexed its muscles again, shutting down more than 150 more video sites, bringing the total to more than 400 since the new regulations were announced.

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In early November 2009, SARFT said it would continue cracking down on what it described as “unlicensed” video websites.

Continuing with its earlier justification, the government said it wished to provide a healthy environment for the country’s 200 million online video consumers, to eradicate what it described as lewd, obscene and violent content which had “severely undermined” the health of the country’s children. Although they weren’t initially mentioned, this time round authorities did included copyright issues as one of the reasons that the sites were to be closed.

Included in this swoop were several BitTorrent sites, including the very popular BT @ China. A notice on the site’s homepage explains that in the absence of an appropriate audio/visual license, the site has been ordered to shut down.

Another site, UUbird, which lists dozens of US shows such as Desperate Housewives, Prison Break, Heroes and Lost, said it would delete all links to TV shows and movies by mid-February.

As reported here on TorrentFreak a few days ago, BitTorrent is very popular China, with its main torrent client usage even surpassing that of uTorrent.

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