22 May 2009

Hu Xingdou Successfully Sues ISP for Shutting Down Website

According to this report from Radio Free Asia (in Chinese), Professor Hu Xingdou of the Beijing Institute of Technology has won his lawsuit against the host of his "China Issues" website, Beijing Xinwang Co. Hu filed suit with Beijing Daxing District People's Court in March when his ISP closed down his site for a day on grounds that an anti-corruption article posted on the site constituted illegal content. for closing down the site for one day on the grounds that an anti-corruption article posted on the site constituted "illegal content." The decision is reportedly the first success an individual has had in suing a hosting provider for closing down a site on such grounds. Hu contends that the closure of his site was ordered by the Internet monitoring division of the Suzhou Public Security Bureau, where officials took issue with the post's content. He expressed surprise and joy at the outcome, saying that when he filed the suit, he didn't even really expect the court would even accept it. He says he plans to file suit against the Suzhou Public Security Bureau next.

This is a significant, if not game-changing, decision, an important step in the struggle to preserve space for free expression on the Internet in China. Prof. Hu shouldn't be too surprised, though, if his suit against the Suzhou PSB doesn't get as far.

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