Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
China 29 October 2003

Authorities step up control of Internet cafés

Reporters Without Borders today condemned yesterday’s announcement by the ministry of culture that China’s Internet cafés will have to install surveillance software to monitor their customers’ activities, and an earlier announcement that chain stores are to be put in charge of running the Internet cafés.

"By putting Internet cafés under the control of a few, partly state-owned companies and by standardising the surveillance equipment installed by the chain stores, the Chinese authorities are making it easier to censor the Internet," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said.

He added: "Centralising the management of points of Internet access will make it easier for the authorities to control users. This is a worrying precedent, which could serve as a model for other repressive governments to follow."

Liu Qiang, a senior official with the culture ministry’s Internet department, told the Russian news agency Interfax that surveillance systems were already installed in the central province of Sinchuan and the eastern province of de Guangxi. These systems, which are to be installed in all of China’s Internet cafés by the middle of next year, make it possible to collect personal data on Internet users, to store a record of all the webpages they visit, and to alert the authorities when they view unlawful content.

China now has about 110,000 Internet cafés. According to Liu, "fewer than 100 companies will be approved for the development of Internet cafés throughout the country." He said Internet cafés that are not part of the big chains would not, however, be banned. The culture ministry would just "encourage mergers and acquisitions," he said. Ten companies, of which three are linked to the culture ministry, have already received government approval to start Internet café chains.

In this country
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
All references to Tiananmen Square massacre closely censored for 20 years
12 May - China
Foreign reporters prevented from working in Sichuan a year after earthquake
24 April - China
Concern that detained Tibetan magazine editor is being tortured
25 March - China
Government blocks access to YouTube

in the annual report
China - Annual report 2008
China - Annual report 2007
China - Annual report 2006

4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised
29 May - Sri Lanka
Journalists trying to cover fate of Tamils are threatened, obstructed