Fujian Launches Internet Cafe Monitoring System

September 29, 2005

The Fujian provincial government has launched a province-wide system to monitor Web site browsing by minors in Internet cafes, according to a September 9 Xinhua report. The Xinhua report says that identification information will be stored whenever a customer registers at an Internet cafe. If the customer is a minor, the "culture administration agency" will be notified of any "unhealthy" content that the minor attempts to access. The article neither reported what type of content that authorities would deem "unhealthy," nor whether the system would be used to monitor the Internet activity of adults.

In October 2004, one Xinhua publication described Chinese government plans regarding Internet cafe monitoring as follows:

According to national standards announced at the end of 2002, 15 software companies nationwide separately commenced development of "Internet Online Service Business Establishment Computer Operation and Management Systems," colloquially known as Internet monitoring platforms. In February 2003 the Internet monitoring platform developed by Nanchang Vanguard Software was tested by Qinghua University at the request of the Ministry of Culture, and has been deployed in three provinces. It [the software] has several functions, including managing operating hours, blocking harmful games, registering the identification of online staff, and reporting harmful information to the police. For example, if someone online browses to the Web site of a harmful game, the supervising department can not only prevent them from getting access, but can, while sitting in their office, also use a computer to determine precisely from which computer in which Internet cafe the access attempt is being made.

In July 2005, Xinhua reported that the Chinese government was deploying an Internet monitoring program in nine cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu, and quoted State Council member Chen Zhili as saying that such a program was necessary "to ensure teenagers' healthy growth." Earlier reports of Internet cafe monitoring systems being deployed in Shanghai and Shandong did not indicate that their use would be restricted to minors.