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Websites reply to porn clampdown
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One of China's major Internet portals, Sohu.com, yesterday responded to a watchdog's accusations of being slow in deleting online porn and erotic materials by asking media and users to boycott obscene contents.

Chen Luming, vice president of Sohu, said the move was meant to raise people's awareness of how to clean up the online environment without always making Internet portals the scapegoats for troublemakers who upload pornographic content.

"We call on all Internet communities, media and Netizens not to publicize nude photos, videos and literature... not to spread pornography... and to show respect to people's privacy by not filing personal information," read the bulletin on its Web page.

Sohu, along with another 18 Websites, including search engine giants Google and Baidu, was accused on Monday by the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center of failing to block pornographic and "vulgar" material.

Li Jiaming, head of CIIRC, said the Websites were not doing enough to keep those materials from reaching Chinese users and some of them had repeatedly ignored warnings from the CIIRC.

Sohu said the vast number of Internet users made it difficult to filter all such information with limited technicians.

Cui Jin, a Google public relations manager in Beijing, said it was technically challenging to delete sensitive issues and Website links as the definition for "pornography" and "vulgar" content was too vague.

"We are open to users' reports and any warnings and would take immediate actions to delete porn, but it's important to stop people who make the (content)," Cui Said.

Cai Mingzhao, deputy director of the State Council Information Office said on Monday that contents containing information that advocates bloodshed, violence, murder, slander and libel, inexplicit or erotic sexual images, publications, animations, comics and videos could be considered vulgar.

Pornography and obscene contents are explicit and more easily recognized, Cai said.

The distribution of pornographic publications, videos or articles for nonprofit use in the most severe cases could be punished by up to two years in jail in China.

The law regarding punishment for distributing "vulgar" materials, however, is not as clearly delineated since the definition for what constitutes vulgarity is more vague.

(Xinhua News Agency January 7, 2009)

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