China shuts down 60,000 porn sites in censorship crackdown

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London, Dec 31 (ANI): In a campaign against obscene material, China has shut down more than 60,000 pornographic websites and arrested 5,000 people.

Beijing has run a highly publicised drive against lewd online content, which it claims is overwhelming the country's Internet and mobile phones and threatening the emotional health of children.

However, critics have accused the Chinese government of deepening the crackdown and said censorship had blocked many sites with politically sensitive or even user-generated content.

The country is also going after Internet phone services such as Skype to protect the state-owned telephone companies, causing unease among consumers who rely on cheap Internet calls.

A notice by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on its website in December said it's working to fight "illegal Internet phone services" but doesn't specify any actions.

Experts said companies like Skype operate in a legal gray area and that the notice is a warning to them not to grow too big or to challenge the state-owned telecoms.

"Our campaign has been a great success and this has not been achieved easily. We have made the internet environment much cleaner than before as there was a lot of pornography available," the Daily Mail quoted Wang Chen, head of the State Council Information Office, as saying.

"We have changed this situation and this has been well received by many sectors across society. But our campaign has not come to a stop. This will be a long battle.

"As long as there are people with bad motives who want to spread violent or pornographic information, we will have to continue our campaign to resolutely crack down on the spread of such information," said Chen.

The government has checked the content of 1.79 million websites and deleted 350 million pornographic and lewd articles, pictures and video footage.

It has blocked number of popular websites, including Google's YouTube, Twitter, Flickr and Facebook, as well as Chinese content sharing sites.

The communist government has accused them of carrying content harmful to China's security and in breach of its laws, including images of protests in sensitive regions such as Tibet. (ANI)

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