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Chinese province issues swipe IDs to Internet cafe users

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People in the central Chinese province of Jiangxi who use cybercafes are having their online activities monitored by police.

Anyone who wants to use a cybercafe must now carry an Internet identity card containing personal details including their name and address. These details are then logged onto a police database.

Each time someone visits a cybercafe in Jiangxi their card is swiped enabling authorities to see who is online and what sites they're accessing.

AP reports that this enables police to block access to certain sites, or even prevent individual users from using the Net. According to official sources the new system was introduced last month to identify criminals operating online and to prevent crimes.

Critic claim this yet further evidence of the hard-line approach taken by the Chinese authorities and its continued nervousness surrounding unfettered access to the Net in China.

China is very strict on people using the Net to "conduct illegal activities" such as peeking at porno and other subversive material. According to the report more than 200,000 cards have been issued so far in Jiangxi.

Last month China launched yet another crackdown on Internet cafes banning children under the age of 16 from using them.

The new regulations were introduced following a fire at a Beijing Internet café in which 24 people died and 13 were injured. The new regulations mean that as well as banning minors, it will be illegal to set up a cyber cafe within a stone's throw of a school.

It will also be illegal to operate a cyber cafe before 8.00am in the morning and after midnight. ®

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