The photos featuring Edison Chen and several other stars, seem to have originated in Hong Kong.
Formerly a British colony and subsequently transfered to Chinese rule in 1997, Hong Kong enjoys a slightly-less-aggressive brand of Internet censorship than the rest of China. It was this bastion of slightly-less-aggressive Internet restrictions where the photos started their viral march across China.
The article reports that the Beijing Association of Online Media accuses…
While other Beijing internet companies have boycotted the spread of the racy photos, Baidu still hasn’t implemented effective blocking and obscuring of the photos and has become defensive and procrastinated, leading to the stagnation of a large amount of pornographic, filthy pictures. . . .
What I find interesting is the process being played out on this front. With all the talk of the Chinese ISP censorship it seems that a lot of the censorship takes place at the publisher level (at least with China-based publishers) rather than through some ISP level filtering.
I also find it interesting that Baidu seems to be giving resistance to the Beijing Association of Online Media, which may be more than other unnamed US based search engines operating in China can claim.
Luckily the only censorship publishers in the US have had to deal with is AT&T filtering Pearl Jam anti-Bush lyrics on Lollapalooza webcasts. I suppose we have a much more lenient taste for racy photos than we do for grunge politics.