Monday, July 18, 2005

Internet Use in China Explodes Despite Tight Controls

From ContraCostaTimes: Internet use in China explodes despite tight controls

"To get an inkling of how China controls and sanitizes the Internet experience, it helps to step into any Internet cafe in Shanghai.
Each incoming user must give a name and address, then hand over identification to a clerk. Closed-circuit TV cameras monitor from overhead. Every computer terminal is loaded with software to track all activity. If a user heads toward a prohibited Web site, cafe employees know right away.
"A blinking light goes off," said Lin Fusheng, owner of the sprawling Shigong Network cafe, off Shanghai's main pedestrian walkway.
The software also alerts authorities at a Shanghai municipal security post across town, and inspectors eventually may drop in to check on the infractions.""

"As Internet usage explodes, billion-dollar businesses have emerged, offering gateways, news sites, auctions and other services. Private Internet tycoons, reliant on government approval and fearful of criminal prosecution, ensure that online postings don't broach sensitive topics. They hire online moderators with lightning-fast fingers on the "delete" key."

"A country of 1.3 billion people, China has only 42 million computers. Relatively few people have computers in their homes, so many users rely on the estimated 100,000 or so Internet cafes scattered around the country.
Shanghai's Shigong Network cafe is full of young men playing online games. Some 85 percent of China's Internet users are male, mostly under 30.
At any given moment, 2 million Chinese are gaming online. One leading portal,, says that as many as 600,000 users have played its most popular game concurrently."


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