Will there be a Jingjing and Chacha in our future?
So far we don't have cute little policeman icons moving up and down our computer screens...yet. But there are probably any number of politicians and assorted others who wouldn't mind introducting them--and writing our own version of "Song of the People's Police". What a dreadful scenario! And what in the world are “feudal superstition” and the “honour of national institutions”?
FT.com / Asia-Pacific / China - China's virtual cops pinpoint web dissent
With their big blue blinking eyes and their quirky personal websites, there is no denying the cuteness of the cartoon cops at the front line of China’s battle for control of the internet.
But the role played by Jingjing and Chacha, the animated online icons recently introduced by police in the southern Chinese boomtown of Shenzhen, is entirely serious.
The cartoon couple patrol the city’s news and discussion websites to scare off anyone who might be tempted to use online anonymity to break China’s laws, says Chen Minli, director of the Shenzhen City Public Security Bureau’s Internet Surveillance Centre.
“Now internet users know the police are watching them,” Ms Chen says in an interview at the Bureau’s gleaming new 28-storey building in central Shenzhen.
[...] In a demonstration at the Surveillance Centre, part of an internet division that has seen its staff more than double to 100 in less than a year, officer Xu Qian shows how the Jingjing icon keeps pace whenever a user of a local discussion website scrolls down a page.
“He is just like a policeman, interactively moving along with you. Wherever you go, he is watching you,” Mr Xu says.
By clicking on the icons, users can report crimes or learn about the rules on online conduct. Jingjing and Chacha also have their own websites with a selection of music including the “Song of the People’s Police”
[...] China’s internet laws do not stop at such crimes. Users are also barred from a range of offences including the posting or even consultation of content judged to challenge the political order, incite secession, promote “feudal superstition” or harm the “honour of national institutions”.
[...] In any case, she says, overseas critics should not judge China by their standards.
“In my family, if my child does not lay her chopsticks down properly, then I will smack her, but maybe in your family you are too relaxed about such things,” Ms Chen says. “Each family has its own rules and countries are the same.”