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Last Updated: Monday, 21 July, 2003, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
China bans lewd text messages
text messaging
The people of Liaoning send 10 million text messages a day
China's Liaoning province has launched an attempt to crack down on insulting or sexually explicit mobile phone messages.

Phone users in Liaoning who send "insulting, sexual or fabricated" information could face criminal charges, the state-run Beijing Morning Post newspaper said on Monday.

China's communist authorities already screen email messages and online chat rooms, as well as blocking access to a large numbers of foreign websites which they consider subversive.

But until now, the newer text messaging technology - short message service or SMS - has not been controlled in this way.

An official from the Liaoning Telecommunications Administration said his department was already able to track down people who sent offensive messages, according to the Associated Press news agency.

But the official declined to say how the government would be able to monitor the province's SMS users.

An estimated 10 million text messages are sent every day in Liaoning.

Throughout China as a whole, the country's biggest service provider, China Mobile, has estimated that its customers sent 40bn text messages last year.

China is the world's biggest mobile phone market, with 207m phone users.

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