Date
26 May 2017
China's Internet police have decided to step out of the shadows and engage directly with the public. Photos: baidu.com, Bloomberg
China's Internet police have decided to step out of the shadows and engage directly with the public. Photos: baidu.com, Bloomberg

China cyber police to emerge ‘from behind the curtains’

Chinese cyber police have decided to become more visible and establish their presence on social networks in a bid to tighten the monitoring of content and online activities.

As part of efforts to curb “illegal and harmful content”, public security officials in 50 Chinese cities and regions are opening accounts on online platforms such as Weibo, WeChat and Baidu Post Bar, Ming Pao Daily reported.

Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Tibet are among the places that will see enhanced cyber patrolling.  

The round-the-clock online patrols come amid increasing cyberspace “crimes” in recent years. The authority is said to have handled more than 70,000 criminal cases so far this year and cleared out 758,000 cases of illegal online information.

By opening their own social media accounts, the Internet police can receive tip-offs from the public on cases of harmful content or illegal online activity.

People who are found releasing harmful information and violate laws and regulations will be subject to punishments that could range from warnings to criminal sanctions, the report said.

Liu Xinyun, chief of the Public Security Ministry’s cyber security department, was quoted as saying that cyber patrols have been in place even earlier, but now the police are “coming out to the front stage from behind the curtains.”

“Some netizens have no idea whether the information they release is inappropriate. We will pat their shoulders and tell them to pay an attention,” he said.

The announcement by the ministry has sparked concern that the government will further curb the public’s freedom of speech.

Zhang Zhian, a professor with Sun Yat-sen University, said cyber cops should enforce laws in an open, transparent and fair manner.

The public has a right to know the laws and regulations on which the enforcement is based, he said.

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