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'Virtual cops' to weed out Internet gambling, porn
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2007-04-14 09:30

The government will soon assign "virtual cops" to monitor and wipe out pornography, gambling and other illicit activities on the Internet, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said.

By the end of June, the virtual cops will monitor all major portals and online forums across China, the ministry said.

Nine other ministerial level government departments and the MPS will take part in the campaign to weed out "harmful material and information" and "illicit activities" on the Internet, starting this month.

Online gambling, vulgarity and fraud are among the top priorities, the ministry said.

"The existence of these problems has affected the healthy development of the Internet, brought harm to the youths' minds, contaminated the social ethos and disrupted the social order," Zhang Xinfeng, vice-minister of the MPS was quoted by the Xinhua News Agency as saying.

Zhang said the infiltration and spread of pornographic materials from abroad and lax domestic management of the Internet are a problem

Virtual cops first appeared last year in Shenzhen, where the police inserted a floating cartoon icon of a policeman on major websites. The sites are linked to the local police stations and have an alarm system.

The success of that program prompted the MPS to take it nationwide.

Lu Benfu, an Internet expert with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the move would help maintain a clean cyber environment and deter online crime.

"The simple appearance of these floating icons will remind people these websites are under surveillance," he said.

In the next six months, the ministries will crack down on illegal online activities such as distributing pornographic materials and organizing cyber strip shows. They intend to purge the Web of sexually explicit images, stories, and audio and video clips.

The campaign will also target illegal online lotteries, contraband trade and fraud, said Zhang.

Last November, police cracked the largest pornographic website in the country and arrested its creator, Chen Hui, who was later sentenced to life imprisonment.

The website Chen started contained more than 9 million pornographic images and articles and had more than 600,000 registered users.

China has about 137 million Internet users, most of whom are young people.

Source:China Daily 
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