December 29, 2005

China Says Winning War on Internet Porn

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is winning the war on Internet pornography but it will be hard to eradicate entirely as many Web sites are based outside of the country, a senior police official said on Thursday.

China routinely blocks access to Internet sites on sensitive subjects such as self-ruled Taiwan, which China regards as its own, and the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstrations, which were crushed by the military with heavy loss of life.

Regulations also target sites that publish fabricated information and content deemed to harm national security.

"The spread of Web sites that involve pornography has been bought under effective control," Zhao Shiqiang, vice head of the Ministry of Public Security's Internet security and supervision bureau, told a news conference.

Police had detained 221 people and shut down almost 600 domestic pornographic Web sites as of the end of November, Zhao said.

"Due to the specialized nature of Internet technology, there are still some places where pornography exists," he added. "Harmful information on overseas sites can still be transmitted internally, and a minority of people try to use the Web to carry out illegal activities."

China has been taking aim at violent Web-based games as well as spam, fraud and gambling.

An average of 60 million spam e-mails are sent every day in China, according to security ministry figures.

New rules earlier this year targeted Internet news content to tighten the noose on freewheeling bloggers and rein in a growing source of information for the mainland's more than 100 million Internet users.

They also banned posts that "instigate illegal gatherings, formation of associations, marches, demonstrations, or disturb social order," indicating a lesson learned from anti-Japanese protests that swept China last April and which spread in part due to postings on Internet bulletin boards and chat rooms.