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China Takes Aim at Internet Abuse

China's Safesurf website (net.china.cn) was launched in Beijing on Thursday. Created by the Internet News & Information Service Working Committee (INISWC) of the Internet Society of China, the website provides a channel for the public to report illegal Internet activity and material.

The rights and privacy of people who report suspected illegal or offensive material will be strictly protected. Operators of the offending websites will initially be warned to dispose of the material under the supervision of the INISWC.

The INISWC, established in December 2003 as an operating arm of the Internet Society, is a trade association of Internet news and information service providers across the country. It now has over 140 members, including most of the well-known websites based on the Chinese mainland.

At the ceremony marking the launch of the Safesurf site, Internet Society of China Chairperson Hu Qiheng said, "Since the Internet serves the public, it is essential to provide the public with a channel for reporting any unlawful and unhealthy information. This protects their common interest and guides the healthy development of the Internet."

With that channel now in place, information service providers and their staff should enhance their observation of laws and regulations as well as social ethics to create a sound and healthy online environment, said Hu. She stated that she hopes the Internet Society will play a bigger role in serving the Internet industry and encouraging it to strengthen self-discipline.

The opening of such a website was first proposed by four well-known Chinese websites in February 2004. The INISWC sought opinions from over 48 websites and some netizens, teachers, students and parents. Responses were favorable.

According to INISWC Director Liu Zhengrong, the Internet presents a very complicated picture with some problems that cannot be solved by legislation alone. "It is a global issue. No law in the world can tolerate pornographic and fraudulent information on Internet. There is strong public demand to solve these problems. Players in the Internet industry should take the initiative to solve these problems themselves. But supervision from the public is essential, because the issue is one of common interest."

Representatives of well-known Chinese websites, of Internet users in Beijing, the press and officials from related government departments attended the ceremony. Vice Minister Cai Mingzhao of the State Council Information Office and Vice Minister of Information Industry Jiang Yaoping also spoke.

(China.org.cn by Chen Qiuping June 10, 2004)

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