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Software censors porn, violence
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-29 19:41

A new software to screen out pornographic information and images and to stop those under 18 from surfing the Internet will be installed in 110,000-plus computers in the city's 1,329 Internet cafes.

The Shanghai Administration of Culture, Radio, Film and Television has invested 7 million yuan (US$843,400) to develop and install the software, officials said.

The software has already won the approval of the Ministry of Culture, and a pilot project involving several such cafesbegan in April.

Installation will be completed in June.

Officials believe, with the software,children as customers of Internet cafes will be effectively shut out, due to the systems' requirement of keying in an ID number in order to start operating computers.

If the software identifies the customer is under 18,it will automatically shut down the computer.

Meanwhile, the software will screen out pornographic or violent webpages.

The issue has aroused heated discussion on censorship and privacy.

Some so-called "netizens" and lawyers express worries that the software invades privacy.

Kelly Li, auniversity senior,said, "After all, we are already adults and we know what webpages to visit and which not to."

According to the Oriental Morning Post, Wu Hong,a professor of East China University of Politics and Law,such software limits the choices of adult customers.

But some experts that Internet cafe is a public place, the pornographic webpages a customer sees maybe seen by others.

Those people advocate the government has the right to stop such communication in accordance with the law.

The experts point out such censorship occurs in other countries, and China is not the only one doing this.

The officials also said that the software will not save records of webpages a customer visits, but will only identify pornographic or violent webpages from "normal" ones and screen out"bad" ones.

They added that no one will know who the customer is or what he has visited,and the customer will not receive any punishment.

Some lawyers believe that in this way, the privacy of the customer is not harmed and the software is not infringing on the customers' rights.

Actually, Shanghai is not alone in the country in doing this. Sichuan, Hunan and Zhejiang provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region have already installed similar system in computers in Internet cafes. Their results turned out to be good in shield off pornographic information and keeping away minors.

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