Chinese Internet search engine Baidu.com was asked by Beijing's Internet self-discipline organization to make a public apology for spreading Hong Kong star Edison Chen's pornographic photos.
Photos supposedly showing Hong Kong actor and singer Edison Chen and several female stars naked in bed and in sexual poses became a hot topic among Internet users from late January onwards.
The Beijing Internet news information review council, initiated by government-sponsored Beijing Association of Online Media, issued a statement on Monday, criticizing the Nasdaq-listed website as being badly behaved during this event.
In the statement, the association said "we severely criticize Baidu's behavior".
"'Key-words searching' and 'Tieba', a picture-sharing section of Baidu.com, became a platform to show and spread the obscene pictures and Baidu failed to block the photos after other Beijing-based websites had taken actions against the pictures' spreading," said the statement.
Tuesday's call to the company's public affairs department went unanswered.
The statement praised other big Chinese mainland websites, including Sohu.com, Sina.com and Netease, as they called for Internet users "not to download, save and spread the photos" and "to prevent the photos from falling into the hands of children".
"They have shown their conscience and responsibility," it said.
It also called on all websites in the Chinese mainland not to provide any excuse and technical support for the spread of pornographic photos, in a bid to create a clean, healthy, and civilized Internet environment.
The council, composed by government officials, website staff, experts and netizens, was initiated in 2006 as a self-disciplinary organization for Beijing websites and online information providers.
A total of 42 Beijing-based websites, including Baidu.com, signed to accept supervision of the council.
(Xinhua News Agency February 19, 2008)