Porn peddlers go mobile

08:58, November 20, 2009      

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The government has effectively reduced the obscene content in the country's Internet sphere, but porn profiteers have countered by moving their virtual stores to mobile phone services.

Chinese media, including official voices such as CCTV and People's Daily, are championing a new campaign against so-called mobile pornography, targeting mobile phone operators who have diminished the impact of the government's crackdown.

People's Daily reported yesterday that the Anti-Porn and Illegal Publication Office announced Tuesday the launch of a nationwide crackdown on mobile porn content to "protect the mental and physical health of young people."

"The Ministry of Public Security and relevant departments have been dealing with (the proliferation of) porn websites in phone services since earlier this year, but why hasn't it ended?" the paper asked.

Like the People's Daily report, CCTV, China Youth Daily and other media across the country have also been exposing the surge in mobile pornography, pointing their fingers at the biggest mobile carriers.

According to Wednesday's CCTV report, for every 2 yuan (about $0.30) a WAP (wireless application protocol) website charges for a porn download, the website may get 1 yuan, and the mobile operators and service providers split the rest.

The mobile operators were quick to respond to the media storm. Ma Li, a spokesman for China Mobile, said the company started inspecting its members' alleged breach of rules following the media reports, vowing to terminate such services, China National Radio reported Wednesday.

China Unicom also said it would punish anyone who offers connection services to pornographic websites, reports said.

However, a senior employee with Chongqing Unicom, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it is common practice for mobile operators to allow content providers who offer pornography.

"Mobile operators' tight control on service providers, which often depend on porn to woo visitors, will hurt business," she said.

She acknowledged that when users' complaints erupt or police intensify their anti-porn efforts, mobile service provider "clamp down" on pornorgraphy, but it tends to be a temporary symbolic measure, as the problem persists.

China's three largest mobile operators, China Unicom, China Telecom and China Mobile, all turn a blind eye to shady practices by content providers, as mobile operators always take the bigger share when splitting revenue with clients, the em-ployee said.
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