China clamps down on illegal websites

China clamps down on illegal websites

CHINA - The State Internet Information Office said on Friday that after a review of 422 websites that had been shut down or blacklisted for disseminating pornographic information, 132 of them had continued its illegal activities.

The review is part of a wider crackdown on the spread of obscene information on the Internet that was initiated in April and is called "Cleaning the Web 2014".

The government agency said these websites found numerous ways to stay afloat. Some transferred their operations overseas while others used illegal Internet service providers, it said.

The office said it will track, and potentially punish, websites that continue to spread and provide pornographic information after they were either blacklisted or ordered to shut down. It also said more than 20 Internet service providers suspected of illegally continuing the websites' operations are under investigation.

"The punishment for the website owners is as important as for those operating or interfering in the network," said Liang Lihua, deputy director of the office's Internet Coordination Bureau.

The office will further its crackdown with the cooperation of authorities such as the Ministry of Public Security, Liang said.

Since the "Cleaning the Web 2014" was launched in April, 1,222 websites have been punished or were ordered to shut down, according to the State Internet Information Office, which added that the campaign will last until November.

Thus far, more than 50 porn-related online programs have been closed and more than 2,200 articles that had obscene content have been deleted.

"The next phase of the cleanup will mainly cover programs about emotions, fashion, entertainment and those that may involve an abundance of pictures, while search engines and video websites will also become major targets," Liang said.

People who provide or upload pornographic advertisement for websites will also be punished, she added.

The office will also target mobile applications, such as WeChat, an instant messaging tool designed by Chinese tech company Tencent, for spreading pornographic information.

Since January, the office has shut down more than 20 million mobile accounts suspected of prostitution activities and have deleted more than 400,000 illegal messages.

Several popular websites and network companies, including Sina Internet Information Service Co and Shenzhen QVOD Technology Co, have been punished for allegedly disseminating obscene audio, video and articles.

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