A censor for the Internet of Things?


My curiosity was piqued this morning by a headline on CoinDesk, a website that reports on Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain: China’s government censorship agency is hiring a crypto expert.

The headline somewhat mischaracterizes the identity of the recruiting organization and the nature of the job advertised, although I have repeated the sin above — mea culpa. It is, however, natural to associate cryptocurrency and censorship after recent news stories about #MeToo activists in China using blockchain to dodge censorship.

The recruitment ad itself is interesting. It was published on SAPPRFT.gov.cn (in Chinese). What is SAPPRFT?

  • State Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film, and TV — or SAPPRFT — was formed by departmental merger in 2013 as the super-regulator in charge of all newswires, newspapers, and magazines, as well as all audio, video, and broadcast media.
  • SAPPRFT’s death was announced (in Chinese) in March this year, when it was again restructured.
  • Most of SAPPRFT’s duties — and its domain name — seem to have remained with the newly formed SART (State Administration of Radio and TV — 国家广播电视总局 guójiā guǎngbò diànshì zǒngjú), whicho posted the recruitment ad to their SAPPRFT website.
  • Regulation of cinema will apparently fall to the Party’s Publicity (née Propaganda) Bureau, while the Cyberspace Administration of China seems to have become the major regulator for online news and information, but I have not seen any statements clarifying new roles.

SART’s ad does not mention censorship specifically, and given the recent organizational changes, one can only guess at the purpose of the new hires, but this is what we know from the ad:

  • A research institute affiliated to SART is looking to fill three specialized applied research roles.
  • Big data, Internet of Things (IoT), and cryptography (including blockchain) are the focus areas.

Candidates must have a “relatively high ideological and political level” (较高的思想政治水平 jiàogāo de sīxiǎng zhèngzhì shuǐpíng), a Masters degree, and Beijing residency. The first two roles require previous study overseas.