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China to Develop Technologies Fighting Minors' Internet Addiction
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China's top legislature is considering a law amendment to encourage research and development of technologies to stop minors from becoming Internet addicts.


The draft amendment to the law on the protection of minors would have the state to take measures to organize the R&D of new technologies, which might include software that can terminate online gaming at fixed time.


It is submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for the second deliberation.


The draft amendment also bans commercial dance halls, bars and Internet cafes from admitting minors.


The move comes amid rising concern that more and more young people are getting hooked by the Internet.


Government estimates claim that China has about 15.4 million youths among its 123 million netizens. Two million of them are Internet addicts, and the number is increasing rapidly.


The draft legislation would also prohibit the production and sale of books, newspapers, audio-video products, computer games and cartoons with pornographic, violent, disturbing contents or gambling information to minors. Those offenders would face "severe punishment".


Shops or individuals caught selling tobacco and wine to minors would face administrative punishments such as fines.


Some articles deleted at the last deliberation two months ago were restored, including "parents and other guardians must not allow or force minors to get married, or make a marriage contract for them."


The law, which went into effect in 1992, also adds articles in the draft aiming to protect the privacy of minors.


It prohibits others from opening, hiding or scrapping minors' letters, diaries and e-mails, except for judicial staffs, parents and guardians of disabled children.


It also forbids abduction, trafficking, abuse and sexual offence involving minors, threatening heavy punishment to people seeking returns by forcing children to beg or act in other undesirable ways.


According to the draft, teachers who insult or physically punish their students would be fired, given administrative punishment or other penalties according to the nature of the infraction.


The schools would be told not to prolong study time and increase students' workload to ensure the kids adequate time for sleep and sports activities.


(Xinhua News Agency October 28, 2006)

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