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Last Updated: Monday, 6 September, 2004, 06:02 GMT 07:02 UK
China gets tough on internet porn
By Francis Markus
BBC, Shanghai

Chinese internet cafe
The web's popularity is posing problems for China's authorities
China has introduced tough new penalties against those responsible for internet and mobile phone pornography.

The official Xinhua news agency said the Supreme Court had set out penalties of up to life imprisonment for what it described as very severe cases.

For lesser cases, internet or mobile phone pornographers could be subject to detention or surveillance.

The latest measures show the authorities' deepening concern over the complex task of policing the web.

The measures are part of an anti-porn campaign that began earlier this year, when hundreds of people were arrested and hundreds of websites shut down.

Chinese media has been sounding increasingly alarmed about the amount of pornography on the internet.

A less talked about but equally acute worry is the potential for political dissent.

China has around 100m internet users, many of them young people in urban areas.

It is believed to have tens of thousands of internet police, and is constantly finding new ways of suppressing what it sees as undesirable content.

But the emergence of such tough measures seems to be another acknowledgement of the enormity of the task.

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