New York, March 25, 2009--The Chinese government should disclose the legal basis for the sudden, widespread inaccessibility of the video-sharing Web site YouTube, or it should restore access to the site immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Google, which owns YouTube, reported sharply declining
Chinese government spokesmen would not confirm the blocking when asked by reporters, news reports said. The extent of the apparent ban was not immediately clear from published reports. Journalists and online commentators said it affected most of the country. It was not known what video footage may have prompted a shutdown.
The Global Network Initiative, a coalition of Internet companies, academics, investors, and non-governmental organizations, including CPJ, said the blocking was "inconsistent with the rule of law." More of the Initiative's statement is on the CPJ Blog.
"We are deeply concerned that millions of Chinese Internet
users have been deprived of an important information resource without being
told why," CPJ Deputy Director
Chinese officials often limit domestic access to
internationally hosted Web sites, including YouTube, that carry material
counter to government views, according to CPJ research. The March anniversary
of a failed uprising in
YouTube was shuttered for six days in March last year amid heavy
government restrictions on the reporting of ethnic rioting in Tibetan
areas, the BBC said. Many journalists believe new restrictions have targeted footage
appearing to show Chinese soldiers in uniform beating Tibetan monks. That
undated video had been posted by Tibetans outside
Parallel annual sessions for