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Cartoon Cops Patrol Chinese Web Users

08/30/2007 -Where there was once the thought police, the Chinese government has added a new innovation: the Web police. Via the Washington Post:

Police in China's capital said Tuesday 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.

These cyberpatrols will begin September 1 and will warn Chinese surfers to not access Web sites deemed subversive or immoral by fiat of the Chinese Communist Party.

The report makes no mention of what penalties await violators of China's Internet regulations.

According to Human Rights Watch's World Report 2007, the Chinese government engages in "covert or overt tapping and surveillance of phone and internet communications" and argues "internet censorship is necessary to safeguard national, social and collective interests."

Some Internet businesses—notably Google—have been criticized for acquiescing to Chinese government censorship demands.

For an interesting, though somewhat dated analysis of filtering of net information in China, check out thisHarvard report.