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Cameras in Internet cafes to watch surfers
Updated: 2004-04-22 16:44

Authorities are installing video cameras and high-tech software in Shanghai's Internet cafes and bars to make sure customers don't look at forbidden Web sites.

Users surf the internet in a internet cafe in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province. [newsphoto/file]

The new controls - part of a crackdown also aimed at keeping children out of such places - will begin in all of Shanghai's 1,325 Internet hangouts by the end of June, the Shanghai Daily newspaper quoted an official with the Shanghai Culture, Radio, Film and TV Administration as saying.

The equipment will be used to ``spot illegal activities immediately,'' it quoted the official, Yu Wenchang, as saying.

If the software detects a computer user reading a banned site, it will automatically send a message to a ``remote supervisory center,'' the report said.

Off-limits Web sites are those deemed pornographic or superstitious, the report said, giving as an example those with information about the banned Falun Gong.

Authorities are known to have installed filters aimed at preventing access to such sites.

The new software will require all computer users in Internet cafes or bars to enter their identification card numbers - or, in the case of foreigners, passport numbers - the report said.

Internet facilities caught violating rules that bar those under age 16 face fines of 15,000 yuan (US$1,815) for a first offense.

Business licenses will be suspended for a second violation and revoked for a third.

Any such facility found letting minors in after midnight will have its license revoked immediately, the report said.

It said youngsters would likely try to skirt the restrictions by using their parents' ID numbers - a major reason for installing the video cameras.

Since Shanghai began its campaign to clean up Internet bars and cafes this month, 57 establishments have been punished or shut down, the city government reported Wednesday.

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