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Beijing shakes fist at ‘cults and feudal superstition’ online

Fresh Batch of cyberlaws as long as the Great Wall

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China has excelled itself with a fresh batch of Big Brother Internet restrictions out today.

Included in the rules are police surveillance of Net use, watertight control on foreign investment in Chinese dotcoms, and making companies responsible for any "subversive" content on their sites.

The list of illegal content is of course as long as your arm - anything that subverts state power, supports cults, "harms the reputation" of China or hurts reunification efforts with Taiwan. Also on the hit list are dangerous operations such as "spreading rumours", "disrupting social stability", gambling and porn, Reuters reports.

Bang goes The Register's plans for a Beijing office.

More worrying for human rights issues is the ban on "harming ethnic unity" and "advocating cults and feudal superstition" - terms apparently often used to prosecute suspected Tibetan independence activists and members of spiritual movements.

The regulations, passed by China's cabinet two weeks ago and published in the country's official Xinhua Daily Telegraph today, hold companies responsible for censoring and reporting such content on their sites and chat rooms.

ISPs must also record all content and details of all their users who dial on to their servers for 60 days - including account number details, time online and the phone numbers used to dialled in. The police can ask for this information at any time.

Existing dotcoms have 60 days to contact the Ministry of Information Industry to get licenses. Anyone without a license or those who exceed their business scope will be fined or shut down.

The Ministry of Information Industry looks set for a busy few months - its approval must also be won by all cyberventures before they can get their hands on any foreign cash or partnerships, or before they can apply for a stock listing overseas. ®

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