CHINA> Regional
Penalties ordered for dirty texting
By Wang Linyan (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-08-11 09:15

Now mobile phone users should think twice before sending unwanted erotic or insulting text messages.

In Henan province, one such message will lead to five days in detention, and three messages could result in 10 days detention and a fine of 500 yuan ($73).

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The province's legal office has announced new penalties to address the growing problem of unwanted and inappropriate text messages via mobile phones.

The rules state that sending an erotic, insulting or threatening messages, which interrupt receivers' normal lives will result in a maximum five-day detention or a 500-yuan fine.

In the case of three or more messages, the sender will be detained for a maximum of 10 days and must pay a maximum 500-yuan fine.

Henan is not the first province to address injurious text messages. Liaoning province passed a regulation early this year saying that erotic text messages can be part of a sexual harassment charge.

With the country's mobile users hitting more than 600 million, the amount of rubbish text messaging has been increasing.

Henan's new rule received mixed response from locals.

Zhang Kai, 26, a clothes trader in the capital city of Zhenzhou, welcomes the regulations.

"I'm totally for the rules. It's uncomfortable to get dirty text messages from male friends, and even more gross when they are from strangers," said Zhang, who had such experiences.

"But I'll take them as jokes and reply if they are from my female friends."

However, Wang Xiaoyang, a lawyer in Zhenzhou, said punishment should vary according to the nature of the problematic text messages.

If a message targets the public, particularly females, and does harm to them, the sender deserves punishment, Wang said.

"But if it's meant for fun among friends, it's OK," Wang said.

Wang's other concern is that the new rules will not be easy to enforce.

"There are so many text messages going on now. How can they be checked one by one? It takes considerable personnel and resources from the public security system," he said.

Liu Zhen contributed to the story