Xinhua Article Describes Internet Cafe Monitoring (story in Chinese)

October 18, 2004

An article posted on Xinhua's Web site provides the following description of how Chinese authorities are able to monitor and restrict the Internet activities of Internet cafe patrons in China:

According to national standards announced at the end of 2002, nationwide fifteen software companies 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.

The article takes a stance contrary to an opinion piece published last month in a People's Daily sister publication. That piece claimed that commercial Internet cafes pose a severe threat to China's youth, and because of their "mobile and hidden nature," the only effective way to confront the problems they cause is to shut them all down. In contrast, the Xinhua article states that "administering Internet cafes is easy, but controlling the Internet is difficult."