China shuts down Internet cafes

Threat to Communist state secrets

Officials in Shanghai have raided and shut down 127 Internet cafes because they posed a threat to state secrets. The establishments were all unlicensed and had been selling and distributing material banned by communist China. Some 192 computers and 110 CD-ROMs were seized in what was the city's fourth raid since last April, local newspaper the Shanghai News reported. One city official commented: "Unlicensed Internet cafes avoid paying taxes and disseminate pornographic CDs which corrupt the minds of young people." There are around 750 legal Internet cafes in the city, but the online boom has seen them springing up in even remote villages across China. There are an estimated nine million Internet users in the country, and the freedom of the Web is a huge headache for China's censors. The authorities need Internet cafes to be licensed to let them track authorship of emails - cafes are legally required to log the names of all users. The raids followed new regulations put into place by China last week, which made operators of Internet bulletin boards, chat rooms and news groups responsible for any breach of state security. Many could face prison as China's definition of state secrets is virtually anything not approved for publication. The authorities are also planning measures to stop Web sites hiring their own journalists. ® Related stories:China orders Web sites to guard against security leaks China gets hands on with the Net

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