China Government’s Net-Policy Contradictions

Pre-paid Internet cards
In Beijing last week I used the cards pictured here for Internet access. They’re pre-paid cards for dial-up connections. I paid cash.

In other words, my Internet connection was anonymous. So much for the pervasive image of China as a nation that ruthlessly controls access to the Net.

Yes, the regime does try to control content with its “Great Firewall” preventing access to certain Web sites — a mistaken and, I hope, futile policy given how relatively easy it is to go around the blocks. But in other ways the Net is wide open, such as these pre-paid cards.

More in my Wednesday column.

Question: Why in the world don’t U.S. telecom companies — and ISPs in Europe, too — offer these cards? They could solve a massive problem for travelers.

My ISP has pretty good coverage but it’s not universal. I’d be delighted if I could land in a new city and buy a pre-paid Net access card — good for, say, 10 hours of use — at the airport news stand. I’m betting many, many other people would find this a good solution, too.


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