21 June, 2009

Google vows to fight porn in China after govt rebuke

Posted: 20 June 2009 1512 hrs

090620-GoogleToFightPorn Chinese youths play online games at a Internet cafe in Beijing

BEIJING: Internet giant Google promised to work harder to eliminate pornography from its Chinese Web pages as state media reported authorities had shut down some of its search services.

"Google has continually taken measures against vulgar content, particularly material that is harmful to children, on the Internet in China," a statement by the company said.

"Google is currently stepping up its efforts in this regard."

Xinhua news agency reported that the government had already "stopped some of Google China's searching businesses and asked it to clear up its lewd content."

"Google China was ordered to suspend its overseas web-page searching services and associated word-search services," Xinhua said.

The report gave no other details.

Neither Google officials nor authorities that handle Internet supervision could immediately be reached to confirm the report.

A nonprofit group devoted to "traditional American values" on Friday followed in China's footsteps, calling on Google to be more vigilant about limiting access to online porn.

The Media Research Center's Culture and Media Institute released a self-conducted study to back a demand for Google-owned YouTube to be more "family friendly."

The study indicated that YouTube searches turned up pornography, crude commentary, and videos that serve as teasers for sex websites.

"There's sexual material, including soft-core porn, all over the site," Matthew Philbin and Dan Gainor wrote in report findings.

Media Research Center founder L. Brent Bozell III and institute vice president Dan Gainor signed a letter asking Google chief executive Eric Schmidt to personally look into the group's concerns.

The letter asked Google to explain what further actions it will take to "make objectionable material inaccessible to children."

The China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Centre (CIIRC) slammed Google China on Thursday, saying the US-based portal was continuing to facilitate searches for pornographic material.

"Google China's website has not installed filters to block pornography in accordance with the laws and regulations of our nation," the centre had said in a statement.

It said the centre "strongly condemns Google China and demands that it thoroughly clean up the pornographic and vulgar content on its sites."

"CIIRC calls on concerned departments in charge of implementing the law to punish (Google China) in accordance with the law," Thursday's statement added.

China has vowed to crack down on Internet content that it deems unhealthy, which has included pornography and information critical of authorities.

Computer makers were notified by the government recently that all personal computers sold from July 1 must be shipped with anti-pornography software, a move that has led to widespread censorship fears both inside and outside China.

China has the world's largest online population at nearly 300 million web users.

Authorities have a history of blocking websites they deem politically unacceptable or offensive, a censorship system that has been dubbed the "Great Firewall of China".

Google's statement said the company "strictly abides by all rules and regulations in China and will work to eliminate vulgar content."

Google was among 19 large Internet portals that the government named in January as continuing to provide links to pornography, ordering them to clean up.

At the time, Google was singled out as having failed to take action on government complaints that its search engine results contained a "massive number of links to pornographic web sites."

Xinhua reported separately on Friday that Beijing plans to recruit an "army of tens of thousands of volunteers" to scour the Internet for porn and report back to authorities in the capital.

- AFP/yb

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

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