BEIJING (Reuters) - China is sending out two virtual police officers to patrol the Internet to combat online pornography and other “illicit activity”, state media said on Wednesday.
The virtual officers, a man and a woman, “will appear either on motorcycles, in a car or on foot, at the bottom of users’ computer screens every 30 minutes to remind them of Internet security,” the China Daily said.
The two will monitor major news portals and all Web sites and online forums based in Beijing from this Saturday.
“They will be on the watch for Web sites that incite secession, promote superstition, gambling and fraud,” an official with the Beijing municipal public security bureau was quoted as saying.
The newspaper did not explain how the two officers would monitor sites or enforce laws, but said users could click on the pop-up icons to link to an Internet surveillance centre where infractions could be reported.
China already keeps a close watch on the Internet and media and will interrupt signals from the likes of CNN or BBC and black out television screens if a sensitive topic, such as Tibet, Taiwan or media freedom, comes up.
In another clampdown, about 40 online pornographic novels and related Web sites had been blacklisted for “damaging young people’s hearts”, the China Youth Daily said.
“To curb online pornography is the main focus of recent work,” the newspaper said, citing the General Administration of Press and Publication.
In April, Chinese President Hu Jintao launched a campaign to rid the country’s unruly Internet of “unhealthy” content and make it a platform for Communist Party doctrine.
But despite a vast system of filters and tens of thousands of Internet monitors employed to wipe out salacious content and ideas contrary to Communist ideology, pornography is rife.
So far, 128,000 Web pages with pornographic content had been detected and 244 sites closed down, the Internet surveillance centre of the Beijing municipal public security bureau was quoted as saying.
“We have achieved visible results in recent months but there is still a long way to go,” Zhao Hongzhi, deputy chief of the centre, was quoted as saying.
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