China extends porn crackdown to mobile phones

China's government is extending an anti-pornography campaign to mobile phones.

Chinese officials have closed 1,250 Web sites and arrested 41 people as part of the country's ongoing campaign against Internet pornography, and plan to extend the crackdown to content for mobile phones, China's Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said Thursday.

These and other results of the crackdown were discussed Wednesday at a meeting of the seven government bodies involved in the efforts, MPS said in a brief statement (in Chinese) posted to its Web site. Other departments involved in the campaign include the State Council Information Office, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).

The statement did not provide details of the 41 people arrested or say which Web sites were shut down.

MPS said the crackdown on pornographic content will continue during the upcoming Chinese new year holiday, typically a time when companies and government bureaus shut down. They also announced plans to extend the crackdown from Web sites to pornographic content displayed on mobile phones.

The Chinese government unveiled its pornography crackdown on January 5 saying it would last one month. The original announcement singled out high-profile search engines and portals that offered access to such content, with Google and Baidu.com topping the list.

The announcement of the campaign followed the recent arrest in Shanghai of a woman who filmed herself having sex and then posted the video online, creating a sensation among Chinese Internet users. Shanghai police estimated tens of thousands of users searched for the video every day using Baidu.com's search engine, the most popular in China.

In a response to the government's campaign posted to the company's Chinese-language blog on Jan. 6, Google acknowledged the government order and said it would comply with government orders to block access to inappropriate content.

"Search engines link to massive amounts of content and our plan of action aims to overcome numerous technical challenges, balancing the need to reduce access to inappropriate information without hurting the comprehensiveness and accuracy of the search itself," the post said, offering phone and e-mail contact information for users to report pornographic content to the company.

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Sumner Lemon

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