Police get tough on mobile-phone porn

By Zhu Zhe (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-03-29 07:00

Thinking of sending a friend or colleague a pornographic picture or text message via your mobile phone? Then you'd better think again.

Beijing police on Tuesday said that anyone found guilty of sending sexually explicit messages could face a fine of up to 3,000 yuan ($388) and as much as two weeks' detention.

They also cited the Criminal Law and Law on Public Security Administration, which state that anyone found guilty of selling porn messages could be subject to a jail term of between six months and three years.

"The sending of pornographic text messages is becoming more prevalent in the capital, and there is evidence that a growing number of mobile-phone dealers are getting involved," said the notice released by the city's police bureau.

Such dealers provide a service that allows mobile-phone users to download pornographic texts, pictures and movies. A picture might cost just 5 yuan (65 cents), and a one-hour porn movie less than 10 yuan ($1.30).

Police said that in the past three weeks, 19 secondhand mobile-phone dealers had been detained for selling porn. Four of them were caught on March 1 in the city's Dongcheng District, according to public reports. The police claim to have apprehended them in the act of selling pornographic movies to a phone user. The case is still under investigation.

Beijing has 26 secondhand mobile-phone markets with more than 1,400 stalls, many of which provide download services.

The police also warned the public against downloading porn from the Internet or forwarding it to others.

Li Xiao, a college student in Beijing, said he received four or five sexually explicit text messages a week from his friends, and admitted to sometimes sending them.

However, he said he was unaware that doing so was illegal. "It's very common," he said. "We're just having a bit of fun."

The police said that many people regarded sending pornographic texts and pictures as "fun", but the Law on Public Security Administration, which took effect last year, strictly banned doing so.

The problem is not just limited to Beijing, either. It was reported that two men in East China's Shandong Province were detained for three days earlier this month for repeatedly sending sexually explicit messages to a waitress in a local restaurant.

One of the men, surnamed Wang, told local media that he just wanted to make friends with the girl, and didn't realize that the practice was illegal.

China has the world's largest population of mobile-phone users with 461 million. Between them they send more than 1 billion text messages every day.

(China Daily 03/29/2007 page5)

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