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China says provinces setting up Internet police
Saturday August 5, 3:52 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - At least 20 provinces and cities are moving to set
up special Internet police to "administrate and maintain order" on
China's fast-growing computer networks, the official Xinhua news agency
said.

China's pioneer Internet police force, set up recently in the eastern
province of Anhui, has dealt with "criminal cases, such as cheating,
property embezzlement and pornography", it said.

Anhui's Internet Police had also publicised information about computer
viruses and worked to develop Internet filter programmes for young
children.

Internet cops had helped local banks identify and close loopholes in
their electronic information networks and trained volunteer "electronic
security guards", the report said.

Internet crime and fraud has climbed the list of China's concerns as its
online population spirals, propelled by a surge in computer sales and an
incremental drop in telephone and Internet access fees. Security
concerns also stifle e-commerce.

The number of Internet users in China nearly doubled to 17 million in
the first half of this year, the China National Network Information
Centre (CNNIC) said last month.

The Xinhua report did not refer to policing political content on the
Internet, perhaps the chief worry of Communist authorities amid China's
headlong rush into the digital age.

China routinely blocks Web sites of Western media outlets, human rights
groups, Tibetan exiles and other sources of information it deems
politically sensitive or harmful.

Stung by the spread of reports from unfettered Hong Kong media about
domestic politics and corruption scandals, Beijing also forbids
increasingly popular local portals from posting news reports from
sources other than state-controlled media.

In the country's top case, Huang Qi, a man from Sichuan who published
information on the Internet about the 1989 military crackdown at
Tiananmen Square faces trial for subversion.

Huang could face life in prison if convicted on charges of "subverting
state power", the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights &
Democracy said.

He angered authorities by operating a Web site, www.6- 4tianwang.com,
which published information on human rights and corruption in China,
including the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen killings in which hundreds of
unarmed civilians were shot.

In March 1998 the government jailed Shanghai entrepreneur Lin Hai for
furnishing 30,000 Chinese e-mail addresses to an overseas electronic
dissident newsletter. He was released in September last year.

Members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual group have also been arrested
for using the Internet to spread information about their faith and about
government efforts to crush the movement.

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