China Steps Up Online Porn Busts

BEIJING, CHINA: A website shows a Chinese language porn site on the Internet in Beijing, 06 September 2004. China has beefed up its ongoing crackdown on Internet porn with new rules published that allow courts to issue life sentences to those convicted of posting pornography online. AFP PHOTO/Peter PARKS (Photo credit should read PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images/Peter Parks

The Chinese government is launching a new crackdown on online pornography, complaining it has "perverted China's young minds," a state news agency said Friday.

The Ministry of Public Security says the six-month campaign will target cyber strip shows and sexually explicit images, stories and audio and video clips, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

"The boom of pornographic content on the Internet has contaminated cyberspace and perverted China's young minds," Zhang Xinfeng, a deputy public security minister, was quoted as saying Thursday.

Also Friday, police announced that two Web site operators were sentenced to four years in prison and a third got one year for distributing pornographic movies and other materials in separate cases last year, Xinhua reported.

One of the Web sites had signed up 260,000 users when its operator was arrested last year, the news agency reported. In another case, it said, four people were arrested for distributing material online and 400 computers were seized.

Police also have broken up crime rings that used the Internet to organize prostitution, Xinhua said.

The latest campaign also will target illegal online lotteries and contraband trade, fraud and "content that spreads rumors and is of a slanderous nature," Zhang said at a news conference.

In China's biggest online porn case to date, Web site operator Chen Hui was sentenced in November to life in prison. The government said his Web site had more than 9 million pornographic images and more than 600,000 registered users.

China has the world's second-biggest population of Internet users after the United States, with 137 million people online.

The communist government encourages Internet use for education and business, but tries to block access to material considered obscene or subversive.

"The inflow of pornographic materials from abroad and lax domestic control are to blame for the existing problems in China's cyberspace," Zhang said.

According to Xinhua, the Beijing Reformatory for Juvenile Delinquents said 33.5 percent of its detainees were influenced by violent online games or erotic Web sites when they committed crimes such as robbery and rape.
  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.

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