China’s Virtual Thought Police
Posted on Aug 28, 2007
Web users in Beijing will soon have to deal with a new annoyance as part of China’s endless effort to control the Internet. By the end of the year, all websites registered with the government will feature animated Internet cops that will warn users to avoid forbidden content and offer friendly (if obnoxious) Internet security tips.
Officially, it’s all part of a grand plan to “make the image of the virtual police more user friendly and more in tune with how web surfers use the Internet.”
BEIJING—Police in China’s capital said Tuesday they will start patrolling the Web using animated beat officers that pop up on a user’s browser and walk, bike or drive across the screen warning them to stay away from illegal Internet content.
Starting Sept. 1, the cartoon alerts will appear every half hour on 13 of China’s top portals, including Sohu and Sina, and by the end of the year will appear on all Web sites registered with Beijing servers, the Beijing Public Security Ministry said in a statement.
China stringently polices the Internet for material and content that the ruling Communist Party finds politically or morally threatening. Despite the controls, nudity, profanity, illegal gambling and pirated music, books and film have proliferated on Chinese Internet servers.
Beijing Public Security Ministry