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Computer scientists offer smarter tool to spot porn websites
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12:46, February 13, 2009

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Scientists with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) will offer government organizations and website operators a more intelligent computer tool to discover pornography and lewd materials on Internet.

Last December, Zhang Quan and his colleagues at the CAS Institute of Acoustics developed a system of comprehensive Chinese character recognition, which could identify porn contents on Websites not only by key words but also by syntax and other language index.

"The system functions as a search engine. You input a website address, and it will automatically open every page on the site and examine words, sentences and paragraphs for pornographic materials," Zhang, chief scientist of the program told Xinhua on Thursday.

"It is smarter than keyword-based search engines, because it can discern articles which are critiquing porn materials from those which are merely talking dirty," he said.

The system could also pick up ambiguous paragraphs which it could not comprehend for examiners to scrutinize, he said.

The CAS official website and some of its institutes' websites have already adopted the system for trial use.

"We anticipate that many government organizations and website operators will find it useful," said Zhang, "and we will soon put the software into the market."

Scientists also established a database of "pornographic like" words working as a "searching standard" for the examination.

The software could be used by supervision watchdogs or websites themselves for a real-time supervision on the web contents.

However, Zhang admitted that the new invention could only sniff out "pornography in written form", and could do nothing about images or audio-visual materials.

"We have yet to find an effective way for audio-visual examination, which needs further advanced technology," Zhang said.

In early January, seven government departments including the State Council's Information Office and the ministries of Public Security and Culture, jointly launched a nationwide crackdown campaign on porn websites. As of Tuesday, a total of 1,911 porn websites were shut down.

It later extended the campaign to mobile phone games, online novels, blogs, videos, radio programs, mobile phone websites, chatrooms and instant messenger groups.

Min Dahong, a senior mass communication fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said the government crackdown campaign would help build a much healthier web environment for Chinese youth.

Source: Xinhua

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