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Internet Companies to Regulate Themselves
Government officials in Shanghai are pushing Internet access providers and Websites to regulate themselves in an effort to cut down on the amount of pornography and "illegal information" available to local Web surfers.

One hundred companies sign self-discipline agreements at a ceremony yesterday, stating they would do everything possible to limit access to online gambling, porn sites, and information harmful to social stability and national security.

"Since it will take a long time to map out laws regulating the Internet, companies involved in the industry should clean up the Internet through self-discipline," Wang Zhongwei, minister of the Publicity Department of the Shanghai Party Committee, said yesterday at the ceremony.

Although the agreement is unable to regulate the industry as forcefully as an official law, it's supposed to reduce the amount of unhealthy information available, said Ma Yongping, managing director of Shanghai Information Industry Co.

"Those who disobey the agreement will have their names made known to their counterparts as well as the general public, which will hurt their image," said Ma.

While access providers might be able to block access to some of the more than 230,000 pornographic Websites around the world, as well as numerous other off-limit sites, blocking all of those sites would be almost impossible, admits Ma.

"Internet experts keep exploring new software and chips to block such kind of information, but they keep up with the sites, which are rapidly proliferating," said Ma.

Companies that singed the agreement are also being asked to take steps to cut down on Spam e-mails and take steps to protect the personal information of their registered users.

(eastday.com October 25, 2002)

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