How censoring China’s open-source coders might backfire

The impFunction

For now, little is known about why this change was encouraged, but censorship of certain types of language – profanity, pornography and politically sensitive words – has been on the platform for some time. On Gitee’s official and public feedback page, there have been numerous user complaints about how projects were censored for obscure reasons, possibly due to an error for a sensitive term in technical language.

The immediate result of the May 18 change to the song was that public projects hosted on the platform suddenly became unavailable without notice. Users may have disrupted services or even compromised their business dealings. To make the code public again, developers need to submit an application and ensure that it does not contain anything that violates Chinese law or infringes copyright.

Lee manually reviewed all of his projects on Gitee, and so far 22 of the 24 have been restored. “Although I believe the review process is not a one-time thing, the question is whether the friction of hosting projects will increase in the future,” he says. Still, without a better local option, Lee expects users to stay: “People may not like what the song does, but [Gitee] They will still need to complete their day-to-day work. ”

In the long run, this puts an unreasonable burden on developers. “When you’re coding, you’re also writing comments and setting names for variables. Which developer, when writing code, wants to think about whether their code can trigger a list of sensitive words? “Says Yao.

As with almost every other aspect of the Internet, the Chinese way of making their own choice has been working well in recent years. But with open-source software, a direct product of cross-border collaboration, China seems to have penetrated the wall.

“This pressure to protect the local open-source community from the threats posed by the global community is something that goes against the core proposition of open-source tech development,” says Rebecca Arsesati, an analyst at the Mercator Institute for China Studies Co-author.

Technologists in China, she says, do not want to deviate from the global software development dialogue and may be uneasy about the direction China is heading: Developers will be eager to participate in what they consider to be open-source projects. ”

And the untimely severance of its global ties could disrupt the rapid growth of China’s open-source software industry before it can reap the benefits of the economy. It is part of a broader concern that overshadows China’s tech sector as the government has increased regulation in recent years: is China sacrificing the long-term benefits of tech for short-term impact?

“I struggle to see how China can do without global engagements with international open-source communities and foundations,” says Arcesati. “We’re not there yet.”

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