'I-paid-a-bribe' sites put payoffs online

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Bribery-reporting websites have been burgeoning over the weekend, allowing Internet users to share their experiences in giving bribes though shying away from revealing corrupt figures. Inspired by the Indian anti-bribery website ipaidabribe.com, at least eight Chinese online forums have sprung into existence since Friday, bearing names with similar meanings.

'I-paid-a-bribe' sites put payoffs online

The screen shot of the frontpage of a Chinese bribery-reporting website (www.ibribery.com) June 14, 2011.

However, in an apparent attempt to prevent possible legal disputes brought by the posts, these websites demanded that Internet users not identify the people they bribed as well as avoid giving details of their positions, saying that the websites would not be responsible for any post that reports briberies.

"We reveal briberies but object to infringement of privacy," said Zhang Zhongguo, an employee with a Beijing-based Internet company that on Friday launched the "I made a bribe" website.

The website had attracted more than 60,000 visitors by Sunday, Zhang told China Daily on Monday.

An Internet user said in a post that he had bribed a traffic police officer with a carton of cigarettes to reduce the fine for overloading, while another netizen confessed that he had given a judge a gift certificate in return for a ruling in his favor.

Zhang admitted that the website was not able to verify the content of the posts as it lacked the power to investigate the claims contained in the posts. As a result, he advised visitors not to name the people involved in the bribery cases, identify their positions or other private information.

"I hope that the website can get some instructions from the anti-corruption authorities," added Zhang.

Other founders of the "I-paid-a-bribe" sites said they did not want trouble for running the websites.

"I can't rule out that some posts could be unfounded and I don't have any means to verify them," said Sun Bailing, a resident in Hanshan county of East China's Anhui province, whose "I-made-a-bribe" website debuted last week.

"I have to delete some posts that contained full names of the people allegedly taking bribes because I can't expect any consequence from the posts," added Sun.

In China, online revelations of corrupt officials or company executives have been widely reported. And the country's integrity watchdog has often picked up the tips to fight corruption.

The appearance of these "I-made-a-bribe" websites has already drawn the attention of China's discipline inspection authorities.

The Ministry of Supervision was already aware of the websites, said a publicity official with the ministry. He declined to provide more comments because the websites are "newborn things".

Zhu Lijia, an anti-corruption expert with the Chinese Academy of Governance, said he will not endorse these websites because the posts were prone to violate people's privacy and tarnish others' reputation.

"We already have regulated channels for tipsters to report corrupt officials to relevant authorities," said Zhu.

Chen Hong, founder of another "I-made-a-bribe" website, cautioned that some sites might exploit anti-corruption in order to do public relations for people and companies.

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