China says it arrested thousands of people over the course of 2009 in a crackdown on Web pornography and says it will continue the push in the new year, according to a report.
The Chinese government announced late this week that the sweeping effort resulted in 5,394 arrests and 4,186 criminal investigations, a fourfold increase over the year prior, Reuters reports. And those numbers could rise still higher. Reuters says China's Ministry of Public Security warned that in 2010 it will intensify punishments for illegal Internet operations, ramp up information monitoring, and press Internet service providers to use preventive technology.
China's efforts to eradicate porn and other frowned-upon content from the Web are controversial, but they are not new. The country has blocked user-generated content sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube--though savvy users have found workarounds that allow them to access the sites. And it has successfully persuaded independent companies to comply with its initiative. Google acknowledged last year that the Chinese government asked it to disable a search feature with the goal of censoring pornography. (It was also rumored, though Google would not confirm, that the Chinese government asked the search company to censor searches related to Tiananmen Square around the 20th anniversary of the violent end to student protests there.) It also ran into problems in the summer of 2009, when a plan to require desktop-monitoring software called Green Dam Youth Escort on all new PCs backfired.