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China's texting to be censored

22 Jan 10

The China Daily has reported that cell phone users in Shanghai and Beijing will be unable to send text messages if they’re found to contain content deemed “illegal or unhealthy”.

A spokesperson from China Mobile told the paper that offending users will have their text-messaging privileges suspended if the carrier detects “large amounts” of illegal information or if it receives complaints from other users.

Other major operators China Telecom and China Unicom will also implement the initiative. The automated system will tag certain messages as “suspicious” based on key words provided by police. Monitoring officers will then personally examine tagged messages in order to ascertain whether the message is indeed “unhealthy”.
If an officer decides a message is harmful, the customer’s messaging functionality will be suspended until appropriate action is decided upon by the police force.

According to the China Daily, it’s still relatively unclear at this stage as to what exactly constitutes an “illegal or unhealthy” message, and the volume of offending is still somewhat of a grey area.

"How to clearly define the unhealthy content in the messages? Are there any details, such as how many obscene text messages I have to send to be suspended?" said Ju Yi, a lawyer of Shanghai Hui Gu law firm. 

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