Virtual Police Patrolling Internet Users in China

A very interesting article in USA Today caught my eye, “Beijing police will patrol Web virtually

“Police in China’s capital said Tuesday [08.28.2007] they will start patrolling the Web using animated beat officers that pop up on a user’s browser and walk, bike or drive across the screen warning them to stay away from illegal Internet content. Starting Sept. 1, the cartoon alerts will appear every half hour on 13 of China’s top portals, including Sohu and Sina, and by the end of the year will appear on all websites registered with Beijing servers, the Beijing Public Security Ministry said in a statement.”

Geesh, every 30 minutes the virtual police pop up randomly to remind Internet users that they are being monitored! This is the next generation of surveillance and censorship being implemented within the country.
China has been policing the Internet for years to censor the sites that their citizens can access. However, despite the aggressive efforts to keep citizens from sites the government deems as unnacceptable, “nudity, profanity, illegal gambling and pirated music, books and film have proliferated on Chinese Internet servers.”
Where there’s a strong will, there’s usually a way discovered.
Can you imagine if you had a cartoon police officer popping up every 30 minutes when you were using the Internet? It would drive me nuts! Government surveillance is already much too widespread in the U.S., and it would likely be very scary to know the true extent of covert surveillance activities.
However, as I was thinking about it, if organizations could have a cute cartoon (you must admit the cartoons they are using are pretty cute) pop up on network users’ screens when they try to go to inappropriate sites, that could be a pretty effective automatic awareness communication, and likely would cut down on the amount of visits to inappropriate sites from business networks.
I’m certainly not endorsing what is being done in China by any means! However, the concept may be effective within certain types of organizations where inappropriate Internet use is a problem.

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