China neuters the Net Nanny…. in Chongqing

News this week that China has – finally – lowered the Great Firewall and permitted unrestricted access to the interwebs was greeted by cheers from China’s Internet glitterati — even if it is only in Chongqing.

Rock star and Baidu manager Kaiser Kuo greeted the news by tweeting:  “Hells yeah, let’s all move to Chongqing!”  (As if they need more people).

Many, many others shared in Kaiser’s enthusiasm, though, including me.  When friends fly back to Europe or North America from China, one of the first things they notice is just how fast and responsive the “real” Internet is.  We’ve become accustomed to no Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and others unless we have a VPN, which is often painfully slow.

So the experiment in Chongqing is a good sign.  The government is setting up what’s called a Cloud Computing Special Zone which will offer unfettered and unrestricted access to the Internet.  Several companies have already signed up to do business in the zone; they will mostly provide offshore data services.  Details from the Global Times:

One factor that helped gain approval for Chongqing’s cloud special zone is that the Liangjiang New Area is important to the development of western China.

The Chongqing government also agreed to meet several requirements, such as data services for clients within China still under government administration, and relevant departments having the authority to carry out sample inspections on the data in the special zone, the report said.

Cao Yujie, consultant director of CCW Research, an IT market research and consulting agency in Beijing, told the Global Times that the cloud computing business is in its early stages worldwide, adding that there is great potential for its development.

“A special optical cable directly connected to the outside Internet is not necessary to run a cloud zone, but its installation in Chongqing could be attributed to demands of foreign companies as some websites are blocked in China,” Cao said.

China neutering the Net Nanny, even if just in Chongqing, is proof that money really does trump ideology.

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