What types of illegal information do the public report?

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Li Jiaming

Director of the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Centre

I want to begin my speech with three stories that are neither romantic nor joyful, but, rather, saddening and thought-provoking.

In December 2009, police in Jiangsu Province received reports of a pornography Website called Sex8. Their investigation revealed the owner of the site, which was run from an overseas server, had made huge profits. The Website was well designed and managed. It had 3.32 million registered users, of which 120 thousand were regular visitors, and 2,400 were VIP members. This huge pornography site was cluttered with more than 800 thousand posts and 6.4 million replies. The police found over 50 thousand images, over 1500 pornographic texts, and over 1300 pornographic videos on the site. On December 31, 2009, police formally opened an investigation into the site on charges of spreading and profiting from pornography. They were shocked by the extent of the site's influence and number of people involved.

The second story concerns a 16-year-old boy named Hu who was playing an online murder game in an Internet café in Hefei City in Anhui Province. The aim was to stab other players, but Hu was not very good and was constantly being "stabbed" by his rivals. A teenage boy sitting next to him began to make fun of him. What happened next was truly horrific. Hu flew into uncontrollable rage and stabbed the teenager to death with a knife he was carrying. What is perhaps most dreadful is that Hu carried on playing the game after killing his victim.

In May 2009, a woman told us she had been fooled by a Website that claimed to be able to predict lottery results. But instead of receiving winning numbers she was charged sundry fees, such as admittance fees, "expert" consultancy fees, and a deposit, costing her around 110,000 yuan (US$16,488) in total.

These three cases are typical of Internet-related crime and can be summarized under three headings: Internet pornography, Internet violence, and Internet fraud. The three cases were all reported to the police by netizens and action was taken.

The development of the Internet has changed the way people exchange information, made communication faster and more convenient, and has become an indispensible tool in our work and all aspects of our lives. But it also reflects the reality of the world with all its social problems. The Internet is a hugely important tool for producing goods and services, but it is also exploited by lawbreakers to commit crime and defraud innocent people. The harmful information that most concerns netizens falls into two broad categories: Internet pornography and Internet fraud. Pornography may be in the form of text, images, videos, or forums that contain pornographic content; it includes Websites that allow users to download pornographic content; chat rooms that provide webcam sex, and so on. Fraud is usually about demanding fees from gullible people in return for useless information such as fake predictions of lottery results and worthless investment advice. There are also sites that fraudulently claim to sell goods for less than the market price; or trade accessories for online games and other "virtual goods" under the guise of e-commerce.

The Chinese government has been paying close attention to the spread of online pornography and scams. A mother recently wrote to us saying her 11-year-old son is addicted to the Internet. The Internet is a double-edged sword. For adolescents, the cyber world is fraught with dangers such as violent games and pornography that have an adverse impact on their health and character. This mother said she was very worried about her son and implored us to take action to protect children. There are many thousands of parents and netizens who feel the same way.

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