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Power cuts to kick kids off the Net
(Shanghai Star)
Updated: 2004-09-26 08:54

TO keep underage youngsters away from Internet bars, the government will invest 6.97 million yuan (US$843,000) to develop a monitoring platform.

The platform, to be put into operation by the end of the year, will supervise the operations of over 1,387 Internet bars around the clock, automatically cutting off their power if they remain open after mid-night.

According to regulations issued by the central government, net bars should only operate between 8:00am and 12:00pm.

"It is a good way to keep school children away for the net bars as they usually have classes and homework to do during the opening time," said Zhang Zhe, deputy director general of the Shanghai Municipal Culture, Radio, Film & TV Administration.

The platform, whose yearly maintenance fee is estimated to be around 2.58 million yuan (US$312,000), is funded solely by the government so as not to affect the benefits of the bar owners or the surfers.

After installation, most porn websites can be blocked from surfers in the bars.

"Doing this cannot be described as infringing people's privacy because porn websites are against the law and net bars are public places where people should know how to protect their own privacy," Zhang said.

"We are working on a project to replace identity cards with social security cards for activating computers in net bars. This will be more effective when it comes to protecting the young," Zhang told the Shanghai Star.

At present, identity cards are required to enter net bars, but they can be borrowed freely as they contain no financial information, unlike social security cards.

Parents welcomed the government efforts to create a sound environment for children to focus on study and clean net surfing.

Internet bar owners, however, opposed the moves, saying that since the content is under control and underage visitors are kept out, the bars should be allowed to open whenever their owners wished.

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