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
"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
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.