Shenzhen's "cyber police" appeared in public for the first time on Friday -- their first since the launch of their on-line fight against net crime a year ago.
Eight officers, including two policewomen, who represent the two cartoon characters on many of the city's Web sites, made their appearance at a press conference held by the Shenzhen Municipal Public Security Bureau.
Since their launch, the two characters "Jingjing" and "Chacha," two Chinese characters for police -- Jingcha in Chinese, have received more than 6,500 reports directly on the Internet. More than 1.2 million people have visited their online reporting platform by clicking on their images.
The reported cases were mostly tip-offs about harmful information including obscene information, politically dangerous information and Internet viruses.
In one case, the mobile phone and MSN address of a woman surnamed Zhu, working for an IT company in Huaqiangbei, were made public on the Internet in April 2006. Zhu was said on the Web site to be available for pornographic services. Zhu's case was promptly investigated by the cyber police, who tracked down the culprit, He, two days later. He was detained for five days.
The eight officers offer a round-the-clock service at the public security bureau where they receive online reports of cases and monitor the Internet. They promise to respond to online reports within 10 minutes.
"Jingjing" and "Chacha" have been patrolling more than 850 Shenzhen Web sites including BBS and online forums where they can spot and delete harmful information.
The Ministry of Public Security is also planning to introduce cyber police to other parts of the country, according to media reports.
A survey made by the media and cultural development research center of Shenzhen University indicated that 70 percent of those surveyed think surfing on the Internet is much safer with cyber police's protection. And more than 60 percent think that cyber police can effectively control harmful online information.
But some are worried whether the cyber police can balance supervision with safeguarding people's rights and freedom of speech.
(Shenzhen Daily January 29, 2007)