Thursday, August 30, 2007

No Laughing Matter

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Committee to Protect Journalists recently warned that China remains stubbornly backward in allowing its people open access to news. Crackdowns on press freedom are especially prevalent in online reporting. Now comes word from the Associated Press that government officials in Beijing will start monitoring the Web on Sept. 1, using animated police officers who will pop up on a user's browser. The cartoon alerts will appear every half hour on 13 of China's most popular portals. By the end of 2007, the Public Security Ministry said the web patrols will appear on all Web sites registered with Beijing servers.

AP said the cartoon cops are designed to startle Web surfers and remind them that Communist Party authorities closely monitor online activity. The government claims its Internet meddling is designed to thwart morally threatening nudity, profanity, gambling and other illegal activities. Although journalism is not singled out, the 137 million registered online users in China are routinely blocked from accessing overseas sites and domestic sites deemed obscene or subversive.

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