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Measures go online to protect surfers
By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-08-03 23:46

Publishers, producers and retailers are about to pay the price for infringing the copyright of computer games and harming adolescents with unhealthy games.

A three-month action plan focusing on the Beijing market has already discovered up to 56 kinds of illegal or unhealthy computer games--and this is even before the nationwide campaign officially gets cracking.

Chinese people surf the Internet at an internet bar in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, July 14, 2004. [Reuters]
Some of the publishing and producing companies will be taken to court, said sources with the country's publication administrations.

A nationwide campaign to crack down on pornographic websites is currently in full swing.

Since mid-July, nearly 700 sites have been shut down in Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing municipalities and Liaoning and Guangdong provinces.

Both campaigns claim the aim is to reduce the harm on adolescents by unhealthy content online.

China has seen a fast-growing population using the Internet and playing computer games in recent years, a significant number of whom are young people.

Among around 87 million netizens in China, more than 30 per cent are believed to be students, and some 50 per cent are under the age of 24. Of these younger Net users, 46 per cent visit lewd websites.

Last year, one fifth of Internet users are online game users, a 63.8 per cent increase over 2002 and still growing, according to an official annual report on China's gaming industry.

"To protect youngsters from the influence of violent computer games and to safeguard copyright, we took action during April and June in Beijing," said Kou Xiaowei, a senior official with the State Administration of Press and Publications.

Kou said it had achieved "satisfying results."

In Beijing, 56 illegal computer games were discovered to be in production.

Some of the games violated China's gaming regulations that ban any games which "hurt national dignity and interests.''

"Project IGI2: Covert Strike" is a game in which Chinese soldiers are attacked and is considered to "smear'' the Chinese army's image.

"Hearts of Iron" calls for Tibet independence and includes Taiwan Province in the territory of Japan.

Others are pirates of foreign electronic games.

Beijing Century Thunder Digital Sci-Tech Co Ltd had launched a big promotion project for "Winning 11," which turned out to be a pirated product.

Targeting these problems, the administration tightened market supervision during the investigation, closed video shops, and launched special probes into companies.

The next step will be to join hands with the State Copyright Bureau and the National Office for Anti-Porn and Anti-Piracy to kick off a nationwide campaign, Kou said.

Websites involved in production, trade and dissemination of porn movies, stills, video pictures and arranging sex acts via chat room services.

Some of them are even making use of juvenile education networks for porn services.

Internet service providers across the nation have introduced a real-name registration system and are forbidden to collect service charges for pornographic websites. Those violating the rules will be placed on a blacklist by local telecom supervisory authorities.

Internet cafes are being requested to install special software to block certain sites, while informant centers, hotlines and email services have been launched in many areas to deal with complaints about the Internet porn business.

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