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Online posting comes under criticism
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-02-23 07:49

A netizen in East China's Fujian Province has been challenged for posting a photo of a man on a website who he claimed was a thief.

The man with the Web name "Karson," in the port city Xiamen, posted the image of the alleged criminal aged between 25 and 30 in a chatroom at www.xmhouse.com, which is one of the most frequently visited websites in the city.

In a message he left on the website, "Karson" said he worked for a State-run organization, and his Dell D600 laptop had been stolen from his own office on the evening of February 6.

"The surveillance camera happened to face my desk, and I later found the video image of the man who entered my office at around 7 pm and took my computer. He then put on his overcoat and left the office, carrying the laptop under his arm," he wrote.

"Does anyone know this man by any chance?"

"Karson" left his mobile phone number in his message dated February 12.

The message soon stood out among thousands of others about housing and interior decoration. The Xiamen-based website mainly provides online real estate advice.

By the time it was deleted by the network administrator on February 17, over 2,260 Internet surfers had viewed the message and photo.

Though some netizens expressed sympathy to "Karson" in their replies, many others reproached him for his actions.

"Have you got the green light from police to post this notice?" one of them asked.

"Karson" said he had not and that he was not even certain whether the police knew anything about the matter.

"For some unknown reason, the security staff at my organization didn't call the police immediately, and I've no idea whether they did afterwards," he replied.

"Karson" said he had taken the clearest possible image of the suspect from the videotape and posted it on the Internet mainly to vent his anger.

But by so doing, he might have pointed the finger at an innocent person, some of the netizens said.

"How do you know for certain this man is the thief?" one asked.

Another said: "The photo was not clear enough to provide any valuable clues. In fact, my colleagues are making fun of each other for the slightest resemblance to that man."

Police sources have also disapproved of the action taken by "Karson."

"He should have reported the matter to the police," an officer on duty at the public security "110" hotline said. "Besides, individuals are not entitled to publish such notices. Only public security departments can do that."

Chen Fuzhen, a lawyer with the local Qizheng Law Firm, said the posting of an unauthorized notice could even lead to prosecution for infringing on aonther's rights.

"It's an overt violation of a citizen's right to privacy, because strictly speaking, it's against Chinese law to expose a suspect to the public even if they have been caught red-handed," he said. "And after all, the person who posted it is not a detective and may not have enough proof to even sue the man."

Chen said he was against using the Internet in such ways as it could defame others and cause chaos.

The Chinese mainland had 79.5 million Internet users at the end of last year. Insiders say legal cases concerning network disputes, ranging from online copyright infringements to plagiarism of homepages are also emerging.

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